After judging the Effective Channel Integration category of the 2021 WARC Awards for Media, TBWA\Worldwide’s Doris Danner writes about the winners that used a combination of channels to rally people behind a cause.

Judging the Effective Channel Integration of the WARC Awards for Media was a great experience. With a lot of great work submitted, it was a real pleasure to read through the entries. We had fruitful discussions in the jury and the decision to select the winners was not made easy.

In this article, I’d like to focus on four winners in particular: Persil, which launched Real Change to spur people to be more environmentally responsible; Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which encouraged donations to provide urgent medical care in the fight against COVID-19; Tesco, which gave people the means to celebrate their local heroes; and Change the Ref, which brought awareness to the issue of gun control.

What they all have in common is that they effectively combined a range of channels to bring awareness to a specific cause, engage people and kickstart them into action.

Let’s look into the learnings they provide through nine key questions that marketers should ask themselves when working on similar briefs.

Who is your audience?

A very important factor is defining the audience you are looking to get behind your cause, having a clear cluster strategy if needed and digging into relevant insights. All of the above campaigns had a clear audience strategy, for example Change the Ref targeted conservative white males and gun owners, while Persil targeted change-makers.

Do you have a clear and single-minded message?

However, defining the audience is not successful per se: having a disruptive idea in a cluttered media environment is key.

Are you relevant and authentic?

To be successful, it’s important to create a social and cultural movement. Across all four winning campaigns, people had a goal: they wanted to help or wanted to change something – from donating to being a change-maker for the environment, from creating a real impact in a local community to increasing awareness of gun control. To have such a successful and engaging relationship with customers, the brand needs to be relevant and authentic.

Is your media strategy innovative?

Some winners showed innovation in their use of media or choice of collaboration. Tesco, for example, invited several media owners to work together to tell 22 distinct community stories on 26 different radio stations. Change the Ref achieved outstanding success with cardboard cut-outs and a well-placed social media campaign. Both examples clearly teach us that innovative, disruptive ideas can help cut through the noise with a clear message, raising awareness quickly.

What is your purpose?

Brands are entering a dialogue with their customers and need to make sure they understand the following:

  • What do clients get from the relationship/dialogue?
  • How do we align our meaning with theirs?

Tesco, Persil, Change the Ref and MSF spent a lot of time to make sure that their campaigns were well focused on the target audience.

Are you empowering your customers?

All of the four winning case studies are great examples of consumer empowerment: brands gave customers support and the tools to create a better future.

Are you trustworthy?

Trust is not only about a brand’s heritage: it’s earned by telling real stories, like in Tesco’s case, or through the use of trusted media and media placements, like in MSF’s. Messaging and communications need to be real, tangible and relevant at the same time.

Do you have emotional appeal?

Each of these winners found a very emotional insight into how the target audience could be motivated to act or reconsider their behaviour. For Change the Ref it was connecting the campaign with the audience’s beloved game of football, for Persil it was embedding Dirt is Good among change-makers and their families

Is it better to create a platform or a single campaign?

I believe all four activities have managed to create a platform idea which could be leveraged in the years to come with small adaptations in channel strategy or messaging. This would help grow the awareness of the brand and the cause, hopefully creating a long-lasting social movement as desired by all our winning cases.

An abridged version of this article appears in WARC's Report, What's working in channel integration 2022.