These 18 Diverse and Novel Campaigns Cut Through the Clutter to Win This Year’s Project Isaac Awards

From a storybook app that helps kids read to a prosthetic that helps amputees swim

AKQA developed a storybook app that puts animations on screen as kids read.

In our complex, hyper-connected and fast-changing world where media, marketing and technology converge and mingle more every day, you don’t have to create “genius” campaigns in order to cut through the clutter. But if you do, it sure helps. Which brings us to Adweek’s fifth annual Project Isaac Awards, a celebration of novel notions that obliterate boundaries and exceed expectations to bolster brands and, in some cases, advance social causes close to their creators’ hearts.

This year’s Gravity Award winner, DigitasLBi’s “Care Counts” initiative for Whirlpool, seems especially apropos and genre bending, “promoting” washers and dryers in the best way possible: donating them to school systems so that disadvantaged kids can have clean clothes and stop cutting class. (Read the Gravity Award winner story here.) Along with portraying Whirlpool in the best possible light, the program is having a quantifiable positive impact in people’s lives. Such themes unite our Isaac winners. They’re a diverse lot, but all of them work smart and hard, leveraging insight and data to transcend the one-size-fits-all definition of advertising and expand each brand’s footprint in relevant, exciting ways.

The Jury
Tham Khai Meng (chair), Ogilvy & Mather
John Biondi, SapientNitro Midwest
Christina Boldt, Starcom Worldwide
Kathleen Brookbanks, Hearts & Science
Joe Corr, Crispin Porter + Bogusky Boulder
Marcus Fischer, Carmichael Lynch
Rick Hamann, Cramer-Krasselt Chicago
Teresa Herd, Intel Corp.
Kate Jeffers, Venables Bell & Partners
Nick Jones, Leo Burnett and Arc
Gustavo Lauria, We Believers
Lynn Lewis, UM
Zak Mroueh, Zulu Alpha Kilo
Anush Prabhu, MediaCom USA
Brian Schultz, Magnetic Collaborative
Adam Singolda, Taboola
Con Williamson, Erwin Penland
Debbi Vandeven, VML

Event/Experience Invention
Colenso BBDO | DB Export, Beer Bottle Sand

With sand used in everything from construction to pharmaceuticals, beaches are being depleted at an alarming rate. To address the problem in New Zealand and build buzz for its brew, DB Export dispatched a machine to local bars that lets drinkers instantly crush used bottles into a sand substitute for industrial applications. The machines got plenty of play on social and mainstream media, helping DB enjoy volume growth in a category that declined 6 percent. “At the heart of DB Export’s DNA there’s a motivation to get stuff done,” says agency business director Brodie Reid, “and at the heart of our drinkers’ DNA there’s a desire to do good in the world. So, merging the two together helped create a higher purpose that people can rally behind.”

Product Development Invention | Brand Performance Invention
JWT N.Y. | Northwell Health, The Fin

Here’s a stroke of IP genius from J. Walter Thompson and Northwell Health. It’s called the Fin, a prosthetic that lets amputees quickly and easily transition from walking to swimming. Created to showcase Northwell’s passion for innovation and commitment to serving veterans, agency and client spent five months developing a 3-D printed prototype made of carbon-fiber-enhanced nylon.

This was done in consultation with ex-Marine Dan Lasko, who lost his left leg 13 years ago in Afghanistan. Lasko put the Fin through its paces, and his feedback led to various technical tweaks. He also served as pitchman, appearing in JWT’s promotional push, which encompassed digital content, social posts and PR. Next up: “Clinical trials where we will refine the Fin with the help of six service members,” says Northwell chief marketing and communications officer Ramon Soto.

“We are also talking with veterans organizations, the VA and development partners to build the right manufacturing and distribution model.” One key takeaway, per Boston University marketing professor Judy Austin, is: “Don’t look before you leap. For audacious undertakings like this one, the prospect of failure is a constant,” but shared focus and determination can ultimately pay off.

Marketing Invention
CP+B | Domino’s, Wedding Registry

Dearly beloved: “The challenge was to make Domino’s a part of every couple’s big day,” says CP+B account director Jacqueline Redmond. “The solution was a site that fulfilled people’s innate desire to get a wedding gift they really want.” Among its many cheesy marriage-related options, the cheeky venue lets users cater their friends’ bachelor and bachelorette parties and supply pies for piping-hot wedding-night sustenance. Since launching in February, the platform has received more than 1 billion media impressions and nearly 400,000 site views. About 3,500 registries have been created, with total registration for pizza topping $900,000.

Retail Invention
We Believers | Volvo North Miami, Survivor Sales Agents

“Let me show you the Volvo that saved my life.” That potent pitch was invoked by one of several Volvo crash survivors who served as guest sales agents at Miami-area shopping-mall booths. “Dealerships usually try to approach potential customers with offers and features,” says We Believers creative chief Gustavo Lauria, “but the human approach we used was key to closing deals and generating numbers for our client.” All told, mall-stand visits rose 60 percent, and three out of 10 consumers who chatted with the survivors took test drives.

Design Invention
Wunderman Buenos Aires | Mr. Monk, Cooling Label

Mr. Monk is one chill beer, thanks in no small part to special labels that contain salt crystals. Once moistened, these tags allow Mr. Monk to cool down far faster than normal when placed in the freezer. (This was necessary because, in Argentina, mainstream brews dominate retail refrigerator sections, forcing Mr. Monk and other craft offerings to be sold at room temperature.) “It’s about working with the clients in a collaborative manner to look for solutions together, through technology, that solve problems or needs in a simple way,” says Wunderman Buenos Aires executive creative director Patán Tarazaga. Brand perception got a lot cooler as a result, the agency reports, with millennials viewing Mr. Monk as an innovator, and product requests from individuals and supermarkets flooding the brewer’s website.


App Development Invention
AKQA | The Snow Fox (Agency Holiday Greeting)

AKQA developed a storybook app that puts animations on screen as kids read each word of a wintry tale aloud. “We wanted to create a new incentive for little ones to enjoy learning how to read,” says agency senior copywriter Graham Davis. “SiriKit technology allowed us to turn words into triggers for anything: making a character grin, dimming the sky, creating a noise—instilling a responsibility in the little readers to get the words right so they can see what they will bring next.”

Gaming Invention
AKQA | Activision, Hostile Takeover

Activision’s Call of Duty franchise sure knows how to open up a new front in the gaming wars. Last year, when mysterious invaders overran Black Ops 3, players were directed to Facebook Messenger to receive their marching orders and unlock clues for an early look at the Infinite Warfare trailer. “Call of Duty’s biggest social network isn’t Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat,” explains AKQA creative director E.B. Davis III. “It’s the game that millions of people are playing for hours each day.”

So it made sense to promote the new game, Infinite Warfare, by introducing it through the lens of the game they were currently playing.” This strategy was a winner, “because we didn’t force people to do anything they didn’t want to do. We went to where fans were, and they had complete control over how much they wanted to participate,” says Davis. “Fan culture is built in large part around speculation for ‘what comes next,’ which fuels a lot of chatter that then gets other, more casual fans involved.”

This story first appeared in the Sept. 11, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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