Just a few days remain to enter the 2018 WARC Media Awards, a global case study competition that rewards effective comms planning. Here, Lucy Aitken, WARC’s Managing Editor – Case Studies, reflects on the objectives of the awards and recalls some past winners.

This is the third year of the Media Awards and the winners in 2016 and 2017 have set the bar high. Brands including M&Ms, McDonald’s, Prospan, Snickers, Old Spice, LEGO, T-Mobile, Channel 4, Always and The LEGO Batman Movie have been recognised for original and highly effective comms planning. The LEGO Batman Movie in particular, which last year took a Gold in Partnerships & Sponsorships, impressed judges with Batman Barges In through PHD UK. This saw the voice of Batman (Will Arnett) taking over Channel 4’s continuity announcements to help promote the film among 16-34 year-olds who may have otherwise been tempted into seeing erotic romance 50 Shades Darker instead (No competition, right? The LEGO Batman Movie every time).

Brandon Keenen, Senior Digital Commercial Director of CNN International Commercial commented during the judging: “It’s unique and that’s the whole point of advertising, to be a little bit out of the box.”

Keenen’s comments could apply to any of the 2017 winners: Prospan’s cough-prediction algorithm, through AFFINITY in Australia, that helped achieve an increase in retail sales of 27% and an 18.5% growth in market share for the natural cough remedy. Lynx/CALM’s Bigger Than Suicide digital outdoor campaign, through lead agencies Kinetic UK and Mindshare, that updated in real time and tapped into internet trends and memes to raise awareness of the risk of suicide among young men, encouraging them to open up. Extra Gum’s Unwrapping a Love Story, via lead agency Energy BBDO in the US, used chewing gum wrappers as a channel, helping to boost sales volume by 7%. Channel 4’s phenomenal We’re the Superhumans – an ambitiously inclusive campaign – did not only outperformed its objectives but which is now being used by the United Nations and studied in UK schools. Take that for effective.

Creativity driving effectiveness

Our aim with the WARC Media Awards is to celebrate the wealth of precisely this kind of smart channel thinking that leads to business success for brand-owners. As Jerry Daykin, Diageo’s Head of Global Media Partnerships, Diageo and Chair of the judging panel for Effective Partnerships & Sponsorships says: “There are many questions rightly being asked of media and digital channels at the moment, and highlighting the cases when data, tech, partnerships and channel integrations really drive results are how we continue to move the industry forward. The WARC Media Awards strike an important balance of truly celebrating the rich creative possibilities of media, but with a clear view as to how that creativity is driving effectiveness and business results.”

Best practice channel thinking

And it doesn’t stop at just winning an award: here at WARC, we also make sure that successful campaigns are discussed in depth by judges, with additional lessons and insights presented by winners at an event we host in early February. (Read coverage from the 2018 event here). And all winners are featured in WARC’s Media Strategy Report which is presented by the WARC team to agencies, media owners and brand owners all over the world. These case studies rapidly establish themselves as examples of best practice in channel thinking.

Inspiring practitioners

The 2018 edition of the report includes themes spotted among last year’s shortlist, including the scope for innovation in integrated campaigns, the evolution of programmatic from an efficiency buy into a sophisticated method of delivering more personalised marketing, the role of tech in building emotional equity and the role played by content and celebrity in driving successful partnerships. From WARC’s perspective, an important part of the competition is to assess the winning work and draw out these themes and trends, using the metadata from all case studies alongside judges’ comments, so that future comms channel planning can draw on lessons learned.

Global jurors, global competition

It’s fantastic to see how the WARC Media Awards become so integrated into the media landscape as a genuinely global case study competition. Last year’s shortlist spanned 28 countries, from Brazil to Pakistan, Turkey to the US, Spain to Singapore. And to reflect the global nature of the awards, we have juries which span the globe too. This year, we’re thrilled that our four jury chairs – Laurent Aliphat, Head of Media, Renault (Effective Channel Integration), Nicole Kane, Global Media Director, McDonald’s (Effective Use of Data), Jerry Daykin, Head of Global Digital Media Partnerships, Diageo (Effective Partnerships & Sponsorships), Andres Polo, Vice President, Digital Marketing, Visa, Latin America and the Caribbean Region (Effective Use of Tech) will preside over judging panels that bring together industry experts from all over the globe, representing an incredible diversity of industry expertise and experience. 

If you would like to enter this year’s WARC Media Awards and for our eminent jurors to read your work, please ensure you visit this page to register your entry and download the entry kit and entry form. It is free to enter. Any questions? Please drop us a line at mediaawards@warc.com. Looking forward to seeing your work!