NEW YORK: Burger King, the fast-food restaurant chain, won the Grand Effie at the 2009 Effie Awards last night for its Whopper Freakout campaign, devised by Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Häagen Dazs, the ice cream brand, and Unilever's deodorant Axe were among the other US advertisers honoured for producing some of the most effective campaigns of last year.

A total of 24 brands took Gold Effies, while DDB was the best-performing agency, with three Golds, six Silvers and two Bronzes. (All the published papers from this year's event can be viewed here. WARC's analysis of the winning papers is also available here.)

Burger King's Whopper Freakout marked the product's 50th anniversary, and "took a reality TV concept and applied it to advertising," employing a mix of "old" and "new" media by which to do so.

Communications centred on the real-life reactions of customers at one of Burger King's branches in Las Vegas when they were told that the Whopper had been permanently removed from menus.

The most dramatic responses were made available online, and the company offered users the chance to distribute this content via social networks, resulting in a huge "buzz" about the brand and a double-digit quarterly sales increase.

Carl Johnson, chairman of the board of directors of Effie Worldwide, argued: "Burger King won the Grand Effie convincingly due to their boldness and creativity across multiple media platforms, delivering real cultural relevance and, above all, outstanding business results."

An analysis of all the case studies that won Gold and Silver Effies – available here – shows that one of the major themes running across these papers was an increased emphasis on accountability, a trend perhaps influenced by the economic downturn.

Other key features included the growing importance of social media – especially Facebook – and the continuing role of traditional media, particularly television, which was used in 68% of cases.

Häagen-Dazs successfully used social media and viral video as part of its Häagen Dazs Loves Honey Bees communications, produced by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, and promoting the company's "all-natural" ice cream.

Some 45% of the flavours used in Häagen-Dazs' products were dependent on honeybees pollinating crops, but the population numbers of these insects was in a rapid decline, for largely unknown reasons.

Results included not only a successful call to action among consumers, but also a considerable amount of PR surrounding this issue, and an upturn in sales.

The Axe Detailer, defined as a "manly shower tool" took Gold in the New Product or Service category, and employed "shower ethnography" to d

Data sourced from WARC Online