Tony Miller, Chair of the DMA Awards Committee, looks at some of the themes that emerged from this year’s winning and shortlisted campaigns.

Last Tuesday saw the marketing community come together to celebrate the best talent and campaigns of 2022 at the Data & Marketing Association’s 42nd DMA Awards ceremony.

Over 300 judges from across the industry, who work for some of the most influential brands, agencies, charities, and SMEs, took part in judging 450 campaigns to find the best work of 2022 – with a key focus on customer centricity.

The DMA’s rigorous awards programme recognises the most inspiring and effective campaigns across the DMA’s judging pillars of creativity, strategy, and results that have intelligent marketing at their heart.

So, what were some of the themes coming from this year’s shortlisted nominations and ultimate winners?

Frictionless customer experiences

As an industry, we’ve talked about taking the pain out of the end-to-end customer experience for years. And often it is easier said than done…with shifting technologies, budget restrictions, time limitations, and having the right employee skill sets – these are some of the main barriers that have stopped this from becoming a true reality. However, as data, technology and AI become more sophisticated and accessible, truly providing a frictionless, personalised experience is finally something that can be done, and done well.

Customer journeys are being overhauled, whether that was with TUI using real-time mobile content, Curry’s proactive personalisation, TV Licensing’s use of QR codes to help customers seamlessly move from offline to online (in record breaking speed), or even IKEA’s insight to start from the inside and motivate staff through education and engagement to ultimately improve their customers’ Family Loyalty programme.

Tackling social issues

Whether it is representing diversity and inclusion or ensuring sustainability is at the heart of a brand’s objective, or even using thoughtful marketing to create behaviour change, our short-listed nominations shouted loud and clear across the lot.

Issues that were once seen as too complex or too hard to take head on, are now playing centre stage and driving lasting change and business growth results. Queer Britain created The Place to Be Seen, a museum stressing the importance of visibility, but also the joy of self-worth and acceptance. Taking inspiration from the UK’s first Pride March to honour its 50th anniversary, the LGBTQIA+ community could see themselves in all their glory.

Unilever tackled head-on the damage and stress that society’s strive for perfection can cause our youth of today through their Gold-winning Reverse Selfie campaign. It offered social tool kits to parents and schools to help stop our desire to be perfect and celebrate our real beauty. The Mayor of London created a sea change in how we tackle and teach men to stop abuse and misogyny against women with its Have a Word campaign.

Creative solutions driving results

Whilst DMA Judges ensure that all our shortlists are judged equally across our pillars of strategy, creatively and results, the creative solution for the campaigns nominated stood out.

This year, you could see that in all 35 categories, the solutions brands used to tackle the challenges in front of them were all executed with creativity at the heart. But interestingly, the three shortlisted Gold winners for the Grand Prix Award, TV Licensing, Unilever, and Mayor of London, were all shortlisted in the Creative Solutions Category. And perhaps coincidentally, the three shortlisted Gold winners for the Grand Prix Award in 2021 were also shortlisted in the Creative Solutions Category that year.

Is this just a coincidence or is there a stronger correlation that award-winning work requires creative thinking and a unique creative solution at the core? In the age of AI, automation, personalisation and technological innovation are all becoming the driving force of our solutions to be more relevant, and frictionless, but we cannot forget that creativity and the connection it has with our consumers still must take centre stage.

The winner takes it all

Creativity, customer-centricity and social awareness are just some of main traits award-winning campaigns exhibit, but it is our industry’s drive to be and do better which set us apart. So, whether a marketing campaign won Gold, Silver, Bronze, or was even shortlisted for the awards, they are still integral to the industry’s success.

All the DMA’s winning work is used as a beacon for our industry to attract new and different talent, teach and showcase excellence across our industry and to also help upskill and inform the nation on why marketing matters. We also use the work to champion and showcase what marketing does to drive business growth to the government, as well as inspire current and future leaders.

So, here’s to all the winners –the shortlisted, those that took home metal and The Mayor of London who took the Grand Prix prize – you all make our industry proud, and we look forward to what 2023 will bring.