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Editors’ Picks: The top 20 campaigns from The Drum Awards 2023


By Kendra Barnett | Senior Reporter

December 8, 2023 | 19 min read

These are the campaigns that broke through the noise across all 15 shows in The Drum’s 2023 Awards Festival.

Elderly man with headphones

These are The Drum team's favorite campaigns and marketing initiatives from our annual Awards Festival / VMLY&R Commerce

The Drum’s 2023 Awards Festival has spanned 10 days across 15 areas – from Social Media to B2B. The competition this year was fiercer than ever, with hundreds of entries from the world’s top marketers and advertisers. Here are our editors’ top 20 selections from the festival.

1. ‘Data Tienda’ by DDB Latina & DDB México for WeCapital

Financial institution WeCapital saw an opportunity to enable low-income Mexican women to achieve greater financial inclusion and autonomy. 83% of Mexican women have no credit history, according to the Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores – a fact that inhibits many women from securing loans, becoming entrepreneurs, pursuing an education and more.

However, many such women have been receiving small loans from their local neighborhood stores for years. WeCapital sought to translate this truth into credit scores for these women. With the help of DDB Latina and DDB México, the brand developed, a platform that collects information from local businesses to create a credit history for these women, making them eligible for bank microcredits and greater economic autonomy. Since its launch, 20,100 women have registered to build their credit history and 37% of those women have now received microloans for their academic and professional plans.

2. ‘Jingle Therapy’ by VMLY&R Commerce for SBS & Asociación de Alzheimer de Puerto Rico

New research from the University of Miami indicates that people in Puerto Rico are disproportionately likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s. Puerto Rico’s Alzheimer’s Association sought to raise awareness while also improving the quality of life for those living with the disease. It determined that its longstanding partnership with the Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) would make for a suitable channel.

With the help of VMLY&R Commerce, the organization used the SBS’ 80-year archive to identify the most famous jingles from advertisements aired in Puerto Rico. Considering that music has been proven therapeutic for Alzheimer’s patients, helping to regulate moods and reduce agitation, the team turned these iconic jingles into a form of non-pharmacological therapy. Made available for free via an online platform, caretakers could use the jingles to help patients remember better and improve their mood. The initiative was promoted across four top Puerto Rican radio stations. Less than two months post-launch, more than 600 patients had been reached, leading to over 50,000 hours of therapy through the platform.

3. ‘Vim Black for Men’ by MullenLowe Lintas Group India for Unilever

Unilever-owned Vim, the largest dishwashing brand in India, was determined to advocate for women, who handle a disproportionate amount of household chores like dishwashing and are too often expected to do so. During the pandemic, with families stuck at home together, men in India took to social media to brag about how much they were helping their partners by washing the dishes.

With the help of MullenLow Lintas Group, Vim tapped popular male influencers to promote Vim Black – a fake dishwashing soap designed to appeal to men. Social media users quickly called out the problematic marketing – before a slew of female influencers revealed that the product was fake and the campaign had been a stunt to break down cultural stereotypes about gender roles in the home. The campaign achieved $42.m in earned media in just 72 hours.

4. ‘The Harmacy’ by Ogilvy for Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital

Kenyan households dispose of around 1.8m kilograms of expired medications each year by throwing them in garbage bins or flushing them down toilets – a practice that causes environmental damage and poses risks to humans by introducing hazardous chemicals into soil and water.

To raise awareness of safer, more effective disposal practices, Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital teamed up with Ogilvy to create ‘The Harmacy,’ a real-life replica of a local pharmacy stocked wholly with discarded medication. The activation helped to launch DispoSafely, a new nonprofit initiative designed to educate the public and provide means for safer pharmaceutical disposal through branches of Gertrude’s Children’s across the country.

5. ‘Influencers’ Friends’ by DDB Worldwide Colombia for AB InBev

This project, which clinched the Chair’s Award at The Drum Awards for Creativity 2023, turned influencer marketing on its head with a clever approach. Poker, a local Colombian beer owned by AB InBev, wanted to tap into the hype of celebrity influencers – but didn’t have the budget or brand equity to team up with the country’s biggest stars. So the brand got creative – it worked with DDB Worldwide to instead partner with the best friends of Colombia’s biggest celebrities, tapping the close pals of reggaeton royalty J Balvin, soccer star Juanfer Quintero and Latin trap icon Karol G. Poker branded itself as ‘the beer of friends’ in a social-led campaign featuring the stars’ friends enjoying the beer in their everyday lives.

6. ‘Ability Signs’ by Rethink for Décathlon

Décathlon, the largest sports retailer in the world, has a mission to make the benefits of sports accessible to everyone. The brand wanted to keep this ethos front and center in an effort to break into the North American market.

The retailer developed a simple, elegant concept: reimagining the classic symbol for disability, which pictures a person using a wheelchair. Instead of focusing on the limitations of having a disability, Décathlon wanted to transform the icon into a symbol for access to sports. With this idea in mind, it developed 25 aspirational symbols, depicting a person in a wheelchair playing basketball, practicing archery and more.

What began at the ground level at Décathlon’s Canada stores soon became a global phenomenon, spreading like wildfire to professional sports franchises and even to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Paris. The campaign won in both the Integrated Campaign and Out of Home categories at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose this year.

7. ‘Plastic Fishing Tournament’ by We Believers for Corona

Each year, 14m tons of plastic wind up in the oceans. As a cleanup effort, Corona launched a campaign that incentivized fishermen to catch plastic rather than fish at the world’s first plastic fishing tournament. In a global-scale effort, fishermen who collected the most plastic were compensated more. The program was replicated in countries around the globe, with recycling partners in China, Brazil, Mexico, Israel, South Africa and more.

As a result of the effort, fishermen have extracted around 20m tons of plastic from the world’s oceans. The campaign won The Chair’s Award at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose and also won in the Big Thinking and Environment categories.

8. ‘Heinz Ketchup Fraud’ by Rethink for Kraft Heinz North America

In a playful marketing effort, Heinz poked fun at flavor imitators everywhere. The print campaign, developed in partnership with Canadian creative agency Rethink, depicted scenes of serving staff in restaurants around the world refilling Heinz bottles with different kinds of ketchup. The tagline “Even when it isn’t Heinz it has to be Heinz” was superimposed on the images.

At the time of the campaign’s release in March, Rethink’s chief creative officer and partner Mike Dubrick told The Drum: “It’s a real behavior that we noticed all over the world and wanted to bring to light. It shows just how much weight the Heinz brand carries and how much even just the bottle speaks to quality.”

9. ‘Reason to Fly’ by Adylic, Talon, MG OMD & Uncommon for British Airways

Digital out of home ad for British Airways in a London tube station

As travel swung back in full force post-Covid, British Airways was looking to reinvigorate its brand and position the airline as a top choice for travelers of all kinds. The brand worked with Adylic, Talon, MG OMD and Uncommon to develop a campaign that tapped into the many reasons why consumers travel with British Airways. A digital out-of-home campaign featured creative inspired by a multi-choice survey, with options reading, for example: “Business; Leisure; Warm gusts of wind that don’t come from tube trains.”

The effort included 14 unique formats and 568 placements. At The Drum Awards for Out of Home 2023, the campaign won the Chair’s Award and also snagged awards for Multi-Channel and Copywriting.

10. ‘Ozworld Avatars’ by Jam3 for Adidas Originals

In an effort to make Adidas Originals more relevant for Gen Z consumers, the sportswear brand partnered up with Jam3 to launch a one-of-a-kind personality-based, AI-generated avatar creation platform in collaboration with Ready Player Me. The activation, part of the brand’s SS22 Ozworld global media campaign, empowered users to build their own digital selves and navigate the various corners of the metaverse via Ready Player Me, a cross-game avatar platform. As a result, 428,000 avatars were created in the ten days following the launch and 10m unique avatars were created in total, helping to boost the brand’s relevance for young consumers.

11. ‘Ikea Window Shopping’ by Rethink for Ikea Canada

Ikea planned to introduce a new store in downtown Toronto and wanted to shift its perception as a brand made for the suburbs to one ‘made for downtown living.’

Ikea worked with Rethink to capitalize on Toronto’s reputation as a ‘city of neighborhoods.’ It transformed real homes across a handful of neighborhoods into living billboards: it furnished the homes with Ikea products as real people mosied around them. The effect: Ikea showroom meets real-life, diverse Toronto living. Toronto-specific messaging was paired with the activations, and taglines such as ‘Come in on your commute’ and ‘Go T.O. IKEA’ encouraged consumers to visit the new downtown store. The campaign garnered more than 31m impressions.

12. ‘Live from PS5’ by Amplify for Sony PS5

After two years of limited stock, PlayStation was ready to announce that the PS5 would be available for good. It needed a way to generate hype and reignite fan excitement around the console. So, it launched a fake global news network. Dubbed ‘Live from PS5,’ journalists reported from around the world on the exciting goings-on within the world of PS5. Running across 51 markets and in 32 languages, the network operated like a real news channel. The campaign ran across TV, social, out-of-home, and digital display and included 20 unique activations across the globe over the span of four weeks. As a result, Sony scored a 316% year-over-year increase in PS5 sales.

13. ‘The Spillway’ by Sky Media, Accenture Song, Dentsu X and The Story for Range Rover

Launching a premium SUV can be challenging in an increasingly crowded market. To debut the new Range Rover Sport, the automaker, with the help of Sky Media, Accenture Song, Dentsu X and The Story, put British racing driver Jessica Hawkins behind the wheel to execute a death-defying stunt. To showcase the durability of the vehicle, Hawkins drove the Range Rover Sport up Europe’s largest dam, the Kárahnjúkar Spillway, in eastern Iceland. Powerful water surged around the SUV as it ascended. The stunt was aired on Sky Sports, giving the Range Rover Sport a cinematic ‘Super Sunday’ debut.

14. ‘KitKat Iftar Bar’ by Rethink for KitKat

KitKat took on an ambitious goal: to make its chocolate a part of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Canada. Though the KitKat brand has become associated with the term “break” and its many meanings within culture, the brand wanted to tie itself to the sundown breaking of fast among Muslim families. It worked with Rethink to develop the Iftar Bar, a 30-piece chocolate bar (rather than KitKat’s standard 4-piece bar), designed to be consumed one piece at a time for every evening during Iftar, the fast-breaking meal eaten after the sun sets during Ramadan.

To get the word out, KitKat worked with its own community: it tapped Muslim staff and agency partners to help disseminate the trend. The brand also tapped a handful of creators, who held Instagram giveaways to get fans involved. The campaign quickly went viral, generating more than 2m impressions in the first week after its launch. Audiences soon demanded the Iftar Bar to be made available around the world. The campaign bagged the Inclusivity & Diversity trophy at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose this year.

15. ‘The Unburnable Book’ by Rethink for Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House, the world’s largest English-language book publisher, wanted to evidence its commitment to free expression amid a rise of book banning in US schools and even threats to burn books by conservative lawmakers. To take a hardline stance against literary censorship, the publisher teamed up with Rethink to create a one-of-a-kind unburnable edition of one of the most-banned books ever: Margaret Atwood’s dystopian 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale. The book, printed on Cinefoil pages with heat-resistant ink and bound with nickel wire, the book can withstand temperatures up to 2,600°F.

The campaign debuted on social media and at the PEN America Literary Gala in Manhattan. It featured a video of Margaret Atwood trying to set fire to her own book with a flamethrower. The initiative itself caught fire: it was covered more than 5,000 times in the press, with mentions in The New York Times, Vanity Fair and more. The single edition of the book was auctioned for $130,000, with all proceeds donated to PEN America, which advocates for freedom of expression in the US.

16. ‘Rock Star’ by Ogilvy for Workday

Workday’s first-ever Super Bowl campaign poked fun at corporate professionals referring to employees as ‘rockstars’ with a high-voltage campaign starring real-life rockstars. Ozzy Osborne, Paul Stanley, Billy Idol, Joan Jett and Gary Clark Jr. appeared onscreen in the ad, urging office-goers to stop co-opting the term ‘rockstar.’

The effort, intended to increase brand awareness, included not only a TV ad but also social promotion, print ads and out-of-home media. The project secured 4.35bn media impressions. On the day of the Super Bowl alone, the campaign saw over 3.1m engagements and won more than 10,000 mentions. The brand exceeded many of its performance goals and won over 15,000 net-new followers. The campaign clinched the Grand Prix at The Drum’s 2023 B2B Awards and also won in the Integrated Campaign category.

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17. ‘Country Music Radio’ by Golin for Premier Inn

Premier Inn, a popular hotel chain in the UK, wanted to appeal to consumers with the draw of a peaceful getaway. With the help of creatives at Golin, the brand launched the first-ever ‘country’ music radio station, which captured the raw sounds of life in the country: bees buzzing around a garden in Suffolk, waves crashing on Cornish beaches and hedgehogs shuffling around in the woodland areas of the Midlands. The radio station streamed these peaceful sounds for 24 hours straight on a station hosted by ex-pop star JB Gill, who is now a farmer. And the effort paid off: it led to a 24% lift in bookings year-over-year for Premier Inn.

18. ‘Tea Cycle’ by VMLY&R Commerce Colombia & India for Unipads

Cultural taboos surrounding menstruation in India cause many women to feel shame and prevent the open spread of information on menstrual health. The problem is so widespread, in fact, that 23% of girls in India drop out of school when they begin to menstruate.

Channeling its mission to educate women and girls and promote menstrual hygiene, reusable sanitary pad brand Unipads worked with VMLY&R Commerce to create ‘Tea Cycle,’ a 360-degree calendar with 28 special tea blends – one made for each day of an average menstrual cycle. The teas were formulated to alleviate various physical, hormonal and emotional symptoms that are common throughout a menstrual cycle. The kit also included information and illustrations designed to educate users and families on menstrual cycles and health. ‘Tea Cycle’ reached 32 schools and more than 1,200 women in rural areas through community awareness initiatives in the first week of its launch. The team has continued to roll the program out across 158 villages in India.

19. ‘Wiggle Prayer Mat’ by The Romans for Wiggle and Adidas

After news broke about a group of Muslim hikers suffering racist abuse, Adidas teamed up with Wiggle, an online outdoors equipment retailer and The Romans creative agency to combat racism in hiking and support Muslim hikers. The team decided that the holy month of Ramadan would be a timely opportunity to educate the UK about Islam and its values while supporting Muslim outdoors enthusiasts.

First, the team placed signposts indicating the direction of Mecca throughout the English countryside for Muslim hikers who pray in the direction of the holy city five times daily. Then, taking things a step further, Adidas Terrex worked with Muslim-owned studio QM Design to develop a compact, weather-proof prayer mat. The mat integrated traditional Islamic design elements and was manufactured by Adidas and made available for purchase through Wiggle. All proceeds went to the Active Inclusion Network, an organization dedicated to supporting diversity in fitness and the outdoors.

20. ‘Philadelphia Schmear Socks’ by Rethink for Kraft Heinz Philadelphia Cream Cheese

Philadelphia Cream Cheese socks with Nike Dunks

Cream cheese brand Philadelphia came up with a clever campaign to ride on the coattails of one of the year’s most-anticipated sneaker drops: the release of Nike’s Montreal Bagel Dunks Low, a pair of the brand’s iconic streetwear shoes with a bagel-inspired design. With a concept-to-launch timeline of just 48 hours, Philadelphia debuted the Schmear Socks – a cream cheese-inspired sock to pair with the Montreal Bagel Dunks. The socks quickly became a must-have accessory for sneakerheads everywhere, selling out quickly and boosting the brand’s sales by more than 15%. In the press, 83% of Nike mentions around the release of the sneakers also mentioned Philly. The effort snagged the Chair’s Award for Social Media at The Drum’s 2023 Awards Festival.

The Drum Awards Festival 2023 took place at The Drum Labs, our very own bar, event and film studio in central London. You can rewatch all of our Awards shows on The Drum TV.

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