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The Drum Awards for B2B winners revealed - see the best B2B campaigns of 2021 here

This year's Grand Prix took the fighting spirit of WWII recruitment to a new battle - against Covid-19.

The winners of The Drum Awards for B2B have been announced, celebrating 2021's most dynamic and effective business marketing campaigns and talent. From a paper company making gains despite the unstoppable rise of digital, to a timely omni-channel call to recruit carers and medical staff, here we take a look at the best B2B companies, people and campaigns of the year.

Putting paid to the old notion that business marketing is less exciting than the big budgets and glamorous, celebrity-filled campaigns of B2C, the challenges of the last year have driven B2B marketers to outdo themselves. The 2021 winners of The Drum Awards for B2B were announced live today at a hybrid ceremony broadcast from The Drum Labs, showcasing some of the best work.

The Grand Prix was awarded to Mower, for its omni-channel work in the new ‘Best Response to Change’ category. The campaign for the Iroquois Health Association of New York aimed to attract people to healthcare professions, and made a timely pivot when the Covid-19 pandemic added another layer of urgency.

Alison Biggan, global head of corporate marketing at SAP, was the chair of this year’s jury. Her pick for the Chair’s Award was True’s campaign for Mondi, a paper company struggling to achieve emotional resonance with its audience. She praised it as reminder of how ‘excellent B2B marketing goes beyond reaching the target audience’, thanks to its compelling message.

If you missed the ceremony, you can watch the highlights below, or see the full list of winners on The Drum Awards for B2B website. Case studies for the winning entries can also be found on thedrum.com.

Grand Prix, Best Response to Change

Agency: Mower

Client: Iroquois Healthcare Association

Campaign: Caring is your Calling

With a population that’s both aging and getting sicker, New York State faces a critical shortage of healthcare workers. While healthcare work is essential, it is physically and mentally trying, but the pay is on par with fast food or retail positions.

It is perhaps no surprise then, that by 2024, New York State will have an unprecedented number of job openings in the healthcare industry. It takes a special type of person to work in the healthcare industry. For some people, care is their calling. They are perfect candidates for a career in the care industry. Mower’s integrated campaign was designed to get their attention, aiming to increase all KPIs by 10%, including unique website visits, job searches, and filled provider opportunities.

But this was all turned on its head when, just weeks into the campaign launch, everything changed because of Covid-19. But the core message – needing more vital healthcare workers – still rang true. The team quickly pivoted to a message that recognized the pandemic and its unprecedented demands, helping to tackle the immediate need for healthcare heroes in clinical and support roles.

The ‘Call to Care’ campaign asks candidates to consider whether they possess the instinctive desire to help others - the Caring Gene - and to answer that calling. The design concept channeled the spirit of World War II civilian morale posters (think Rosie the Riveter), this time fighting an invisible enemy.

The results far exceeded the 10% target. In the first six months of the campaign, more than 700,000 unique visitors searched for a job on the Caring Gene website - seven times more than the previous year. This resulted in almost 100,000 job searches and nearly 35,000 qualified candidates driven to provider opportunities—a 250% increase.

The judges felt this was a powerful campaign that made a tangible difference, addressing the critical shortage of healthcare workers. It was also Highly Commended in ‘Best Omnichannel Campaign’. O’Donnell praised it for immediately connecting with many on the judging panel. “It went right to the heart of our common experiences over the last 18 months, recognizing the everyday heroes among us - and that special something that makes them who they are.

“Translating this emotional connection into a call to action to recruit others was a message that resonated, addressing a critical staff shortage with remarkable results. It included many examples of campaign best practice, including powerful imagery and the use of data and analytics, to not only inform the strategy, but allow for microtargeting to key segments and personas.”

Chair’s Award, B2B Print/Illustration or Imagery, Best Use of Emotion in B2B marketing

Agency: True

Client: Mondi

Campaign: Catching Feels - Pergraphica

In 2015, Mondi launched a new uncoated design paper range called Pergraphica. Described as a ‘Premium Offset’ paper, it was developed to compete against well-known competitor brands, like Gmund and Munken, by offering superior print quality, haptics, optics and with a wide portfolio for any creative need.

But awareness of Pergraphica remained low among the target audience of printers, designers and creative agencies, and to drive any sales Mondi found itself repeatedly explaining the product benefits. To make a transformational change, the brand needed a memorable campaign that would stand out and make a connection.

Research and planning identified three fundamental facts. Firstly, brand partnerships are an effective way of generating fame and increasing engagement. Secondly, print adds a physical dimension to digital creations, evoking an additional human sense - touch. Finally, choosing the right paper is critical to ensuring creativity shines in an analogue world.

‘Catching Feels’ was a fully integrated campaign and set of high-quality, aspirational marketing tools, designed to demonstrate the diversity and versatility of Pergraphica. Teaming up with creative tech giant Adobe Stock, True was able to increase Mondi’s reach, raise awareness and improve brand reputation.

The campaign has seen phenomenal success, increasing sales by over 35% while the wider paper sales market has seen declining sales of 20%. O’Donnell praised ‘Catching Feels’ for its use of emotion and powerful imagery. “This integrated campaign connected digital to analogue, using high impact print to deliver a sensory experience that, combined with a partnership with Adobe that was particularly impactful. With a diverse mix of tactics, they were able to deliver a true experience driving remarkable campaign results.”

Best B2B D&I Program/Initiative

Agency: Google and House of Greenland

Campaign: #OpenToEveryone

#OpenToEveryone is a new, ongoing campaign from Google to promote inclusivity, gender representation, and the discoverability of safe spaces online. The past 18 months have been incredibly challenging for all businesses, but for some more than others. According to McKinsey, women’s jobs are nearly twice as vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic than men’s jobs. And according to Stonewall, one in seven of its LGBTQ+ members reports facing discrimination when shopping last year.

The Business Profile allows small-to-medium-sized businesses self-identify as inclusive spaces by adding attributes like ‘Women-led business’, ‘LGBTQ-Friendly’ and ‘Transgender Safe Space’ to their profiles. To promote the uptake of these attributes, House of Greenland and Google launched a series of activations across EMEA on key dates. After the anthemic film, video case study, a series of written stories and emails launched for International Women’s Day and Pride month, tens of thousands of SMBs have added the attributes to their profile.

Part of this activation also included updating the Google Ads acquisition creatives with inclusive and intersectional imagery representing women-led SMBs. A/B test results showed these ads drove improved performance with drop in cost per qualified lead, and an over 50% increase in conversion rate among female users. This showed the team that its previous creative failed to serve many of the people it wanted to reach, proving the change had been vital.

The judges described this as ‘a beautiful campaign’, one that was inclusive at its core. One said, “I think the simplicity of the LGBTQ+ friendly attribute is a low key, but still impactful, way to drive a more inclusive culture.” Another praised it as “a great D&I campaign that understood the challenges facing SMBs. This multi-location campaign with engagement metrics tells a great story of how to support a vital industry of business.”

Best Corporate or Brand Website

Agency: Spotify Advertising

Campaign: 2020 Wrapped for Advertisers

Spotify’s iconic Wrapped campaign was in its sixth year, presenting an opportunity illustrate the benefits of advertising on the streaming platform. Wrapped reflects the year’s trends, rewarding users with snackable, shareable insights, which in turn connect Spotify with a new audience.

Wrapped for Advertisers would showcase Spotify’s rich first-party data and in-depth understanding of listeners, proving that Streaming Intelligence can do more as a strategic tool. Launching when Spotify’s advertising partners make plans for the new year, the campaign aimed to help brand marketers, media buyers and creatives make sense of listening trends.

Taking on the uncharted territory of the advertising audience, the campaign highlights what the segments targeted by brands are listening to, and how marketers can leverage listening trends when planning media campaigns.

It goes without saying that 2020 was a year unlike any other. Despite its unique challenges, it inspired creativity and a strong sense of community. With that in mind, Spotify Advertising aimed to highlight the brighter moments, celebrating resilience and gratitude. Listening data told its own story: how music and podcasts connected us all through a challenging, emotional year.

The campaign launched across eleven markets, and delivered over 750K unique page views and a +200% increase in average time spent exploring the digital experience. Most importantly, it resulted in millions of Euros’ worth of attributable bookings and 3,000 best-practice package downloads.

Best Use of Data/Insights

Agency: Yellow and Hey You

Client: Yellow New Zealand

Campaign: Robyn’s Undies

In New Zealand, the Yellow Pages is remembered as the business directory delivered to the door. But, now simply known as Yellow, the company has significantly stepped up its digital capability, offering search campaigns, websites, online stores, Google products, Facebook campaigns, and more. It was battling the perception that its only offering was the book.

The goal of this campaign was to improve awareness and consideration of Yellow’s digital products, and to generate leads, especially among SMEs.

Research revealed that getting a small business out of the home and onto a professional platform is a major stumbling block. The team also discovered that new entrepreneurs looked to other SMEs for inspiration: they trust the word of other who have been in the same position.

Yellow’s strategy centered on a real-life example; an aspiring small business that could help others take their dream out of the garage. Enter iconic New Zealand actress Robyn Malcolm: her character on the series Outrageous Fortune sold lingerie, and it turned out Malcolm herself had also always dreamed of owning an underwear business.

Scale was important: to reach the notoriously tricky SME segment, the entire nation would need to be talking about Yellow. It was a huge success. The campaign generated so many leads, Yellow stopped marketing activities to nurture them.

The judges described this campaign as ‘smart and sassy’, using a simple and creative concept to sell the product well: “We loved the strategic principles they used to appeal to the target audience. It was authentic, big and brave, giving tangible, impressive results.”

The full list of winners can be found on The Drum Awards for B2B website, and the case studies for each can be found on thedrum.com in the Case Studies section.

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