WARC’s Chiara Manco looks at how winners of the 2020 Media Awards’ Effective Channel Integration category reaped the benefits of using strategic comms planning to engage their audiences.

The WARC Media Awards’ Effective Channel Integration category rewards result-boosting comms architecture. While media-multiplier logic tells us that messages spanning multiple channels are likely to reach more people and grab more of their attention, some of the 2020 Media Awards winners went one step further. They showed that well-orchestrated channel integration has the power to engage consumers on a deeper level: empowering them, spurring them into action and even giving rise to movements.

Band-Aid: siding with its consumers to create a movement

Band-Aid’s effort to normalise wearing sneakers during job interviews was admired for being an unexpected take on the brand’s purpose, and earned it the Grand Prix. Through BBDO Japan, the plaster brand sided with Japanese students to fight the job-hunting dress code, which involved uncomfortable, painful leather shoes. Judge Sarah Baumann, Managing Director or VaynerMedia London, commented: “Many plaster brands would have gone: ‘Great, we have plenty of customers now!’, but they went for brand loyalty by keeping the interests of their audience at heart.”

The campaign worked hard on a small budget thanks to a PR push and strategic placements, such as OOH in train stations frequented by job-hunters. Wanting to effect systemic change, Band-Aid also reached out to HR departments and partnered retail stores to make sneakers an acceptable choice of footwear for interviews. Band-Aid surpassed its KPI of achieving a 10% increase in sales, growing penetration among the youth and improving brand trust to boot.

Head & Shoulders: using humour to empower

Gold winner Say it Proud, by MediaCom Indonesia for Head & Shoulders, saw the brand owning up to a weakness to empower its consumers and ultimately grow sales. The brand found Indonesians struggled to pronounce its name, and hence would not ask for it in shops for fear of embarrassing themselves. In line with its purpose of helping people be more confident, the brand endorsed all mispronunciations of its name. The breadth of channels stood out to judges: alongside TV and radio spots, Head & Shoulders also tweaked voice and Google searches to accept common mispronunciations. The cherry on top, however, was seen to be the production of more than 300 versions of shampoo bottles, featuring the alternative spelling of the brand’s name – not a small feat coming from a P&G brand.

Sales grew by 20% as a result of the campaign, making Head & Shoulders the fastest-growing brand in the same small shops where it used to struggle. It bagged a Gold at the Media Awards, and was described by judge Gianluca Toccafondi, Global Integrated Media Manager at IKEA: “outstanding, both in terms of scale and cultural contextuality.”

Help for Heroes: creating a new channel for a social cause

Military charity Help for Heroes raised awareness of the plight of injured soldiers, mobilising a country to drive political change. Through McCann London, the charity wished to tackle the issue of the UK’s 40,000 injured army veterans struggling to rebuild post-military lives due to lack of support. To bring the cause to life, it created an installation featuring an army of 40,000 toy soldiers and promoted it through a hero film. Real veterans were chosen to tell their stories across social media and the toy soldiers modelled after them were made available in exchange for donations.

More than a creative device carried across all touchpoints, the toy soldiers constituted a channel in themselves, content turned into media. Judge Karine Courtemanche, Chief Executive Officer, PHD and Touché, expressed this well when she commented: “I see the soldiers themselves as the message becoming the medium.”

The Gold-winning campaign generated £187,181 in donations, 43% higher than the target, delivering ROI of 4.5:1. But beyond driving PR and donations, it also gave rise to conversations at a political level, leading stakeholders to review the medical discharge process to grant injured soldiers greater support.

Passat: hooking consumers across touchpoints

Volkswagen’s paper through PHD Media and Nord DDB earned it a Gold and the POE Special Award for the best integration of paid, owned and earned media. Described by some judges as “brilliantly cheeky”, the campaign got consumers devoting their full attention to every last piece of comms from the car manufacturer. To drive interest for its new Passat Alltrack model in Sweden, the brand launched a scavenger hunt that would lead participants to a remote showroom containing a single Passat as the prize. Clues to the showroom’s location were hidden in ads across search, OOH, TV, online video and print.

The paper was praised for its fresh approach to the giveaway mechanic. Judge Shann Biglione, Executive Vice President and Head of Strategy at Zenith USA, said: “I love it when brands take an old trick and execute it in a flawless way. The commitment to the execution and the lengths they went to integrate the idea were amazing.”

The treasure hunt engaged 15,000 people, leading to 100,000 unique visits to the campaign site and a 60% increase in Instagram followers. The compelling giveaway naturally led people to take interest in the brand. One participant tweeted: "I barely knew what Volkswagen was before the competition but now you are the brand I know the most about." This was reflected in brand metrics, with preference increasing by 11% and brand consideration by 23%.

Beyond reach and attention

Whether it was rallying people behind a cause, or hooking them with an immersive experience, these winners showed how smart channel integration can engage consumers beyond just grabbing their attention. Creating a sense of connection, other standout audience-moving papers brought communities together. Tesco adapted its communications during the first UK lockdown, and united a nation around the food they prepared for their loved ones. Still in the UK, the National Health Service launched a nurse recruitment drive by championing the rewarding nature of the job. Elsewhere, in Lebanon, NGO Donner Sang Compter rethought tradition to shine a spotlight on the importance of voluntary blood donations.

You can read all 2020 WARC Media Awards’ Effective Channel Integration winners here.