WARC has been rewarding effective innovation since 2013 through its awards programmes. This year, Effective Innovation was a category in the 2018 WARC Awards and the winners were announced on 24 May. Here, Lucy Aitken, WARC’s Managing Editor, Case Studies, highlights the cream of this year’s crop and shares insights from the jury.

Hands up who loves wading through piles of CVs every time you’re recruiting? What about those candidates who don’t have a formal education or much experience? They go straight to the bottom of the pile, right? The Ad Council’s Grads of Life initiative aims to help stop that instinct among recruiters. It assists young Americans without the benefit of either a college education or official work experience to sell their particular skillsets. Taking the Grand Prix at this year’s Effective Innovation awards was 7-second Resumes by 22squared for a disruptive idea designed to give these job candidates a fair hearing. These candidates summed up their strengths in videos lasting just seven seconds. Result? Grads of Life was contacted by an average of 45 businesses a month, up from the pre-campaign average of two. From this year’s judging panel, Joseph Smeaton, DDB Sydney’s Planning Director, made the point that: “This could be an incredibly powerful way to help change the way people find work.” That’s undeniably a good thing in a sector that’s ripe for disruption.

One Drop makes a splash

Among the top of the pile and taking a gold was Pril’s One Drop Bottle via TBWA \ RAAD in the UAE. Henkel-owned washing up liquid Pril found itself fending off competition from P&G-owned Fairy. Both products claimed to take care of all the washing up with just one drop of liquid. However, Fairy was significantly outspending Pril in terms of media. So Pril decided to prove its product power through packaging innovation instead of media muscle. As part of a mass sampling campaign in supermarkets across the UAE, Pril gave out miniscule bottles containing just one drop of its product. That action helped it increase its market share by more than 1.2% while Fairy’s declined by 1.8%. Accenture’s Managing Director UKI, Hugo Pinto, a One Drop Bottle enthusiast on this year’s jury, reflected: “It’s subverting the whole category because no one normally touches the product itself.”

Less need not always be solved with more

Pril’s David and Goliath situation was mirrored in India with IDFC Bank. The country’s 83rd largest bank served the country’s unbanked population by introducing Bank in a Box, in other words, micro-ATMs in grocery stores at a fraction of the cost of regular ATMs. In the Lessons Learned section of that paper, the agency behind the innovation, McCann Worldgroup, writes: “The problem of less (less money, less infrastructure, fewer branches) need not always be solved with more. Sometimes we just need to better understand the why.” Bessie Lee, CEO, Withinklink and a judge on this year’s Effective Innovation jury, enthused: “The solution was really breakthrough and didn’t use tech for the sake of it and wasn’t innovative for the sake of being innovative.” This is an approach we highly encourage in entries for the WARC Effective Innovation Awards: not just one-off gimmickry or flashy new tech but genuine problem-solving where actual business results prove how hard a particular innovation has worked.

Talk elephant, donate cash

The final gold winner in this year’s batch was the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a charity based in Africa, which invited people to talk Elephant. Hello in Elephant was a human-elephant translator that conveniently enabled people to donate to the Trust while they channelled their inner Elmer. Powered by artificial intelligence and voice recognition technology, it gave people a way to translate text, emoji and their voice into the corresponding elephant emotion or expression. One judge, Fern Miller, Chief Strategy Officer, International, Digitas, described the tool as a “a lovely way to genuinely try something different in a really crowded market.”

Innovation to problem-solve

Taking a silver this year was the highly memorable – and, some might say, downright terrifying - Denmark vs Trump stunt via UncleGrey on behalf of the Socialistisk Folkeparti (SF). As Iona Macgregor, Chief Strategy Officer of Marcel Sydney who judged this year, pointed out: “It’s hard to boost political engagement, so they used a creative approach strategically in a conventionally dry sector.”

Some great problem-solving was also demonstrated by Saregama, an Indian company with an extensive back catalogue of music which created Carvaan, a digital radio pre-loaded with themed playlists.  During a judging session, Bogdana Butnar, Poke’s Head of Strategy, commented: ““It was quite smart – mostly because they did not say ‘we made a product’ but ‘we had a comms problem and we made a product to solve it’.” That’s precisely the kind of innovation we love to see entered every year.

Meanwhile, Age UK’s Loneliness Index, through Manning Gottlieb OMD, used data to highlight the very real issue of loneliness among older Brits. The chair of this year’s jury, Chris Yu, Vice President, Integrated Marketing Strategy, Innovation, and Technology, US Bank, said: “All too often we see map interfaces and creative essentially served up as a utility. How do we find what we need as quickly as possible and turn it into an emotional index? This was really smart and got good business impact.”

It’s a fascinating set of winners from a broad range of territories - Australia, India, UAE, Denmark, India, US, UK and Thailand – that offers a broad interpretation of innovation and how it can help move the needle. Many thanks to our 15 judges in this category who did such an incredible job in analyzing all the entries and providing such erudite insights into why they worked so well.

We will soon be recruiting judges for the Effective Innovation category for the 2019 WARC Awards. If, having read about this year’s winners, that interests you, please get in touch to find out more.Lucy.aitken@warc.com