Check Out the 26 Boldly Inventive Campaigns That Won This Year’s Project Isaac Awards

In this era of constant change and innovation, to truly invent something is quite rare. But the drive to find new paths and opportunities across marketing, media and tech may be stronger than ever thanks to the indomitable spirit that infuses those worlds (the drive to find new revenue doesn’t hurt either).

That’s the underlying philosophy behind the fourth annual Adweek Project Isaac Awards, a celebration of 26 of the smartest, most inventive ideas around. Many of those ideas were adapted from existing platforms but transport the end user to experiences they could otherwise never enjoy—such as our Gravity Award winner, McCann New York (and partners), which created a virtual reality bus tour of Mars on behalf of client Lockheed Martin.

We couldn’t have chosen all of these deserving winners without the expertise, patience and input from our stellar lineup of jurors (below), led by KBS CEO Ed Brojerdi. A big thanks to them all, and hearty congratulations to all our winners.

The Jury

Ed Brojerdi (chair), CEO, KBS
Cyna Alderman, Managing Director, Daily News Innovation Lab
Judy Chen, Director of Learning and Development, Mindshare North America
Scott Cullather, Founder and Global Managing Partner, INVNT
Michael Davis, Head of Creative, Conversant
Icaro Doria, Chief Creative Officer, DDB New York
Eric Franchi, Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist, Undertone
Robert Galluzzo, Founder, Finch
Andreas Goeldi, Chief Technology Officer, Pixability
Trevor Guthrie, Co-Founder, Giant Spoon
John Immesoete, Chief Creative Officer, Epsilon
Scott Laughlin, Co-owner and Director, LMO Advertising
Vladimir Pervozvansky, Head of Digital, DDB Russia
Humberto Polar, EVP of Creative and Chief Creative Officer, FCB Mexico
Lauren Russo, SVP, Managing Director, Audio and Promotions, Horizon Media
Ian Schafer, Founder and CEO, Deep Focus
Jason Snyder, Chief Technology Officer, Momentum Worldwide
Helayne Spivak, Director, VCU Brandcenter
John Stapleton, Chief Creative Officer, 22squared
Taylor Valentine, Chief Invention Officer, Horizon Media
Deacon Webster, Chief Creative Officer, Walrus
Dmitry Zenin, Deputy Creative Director, Innovations, DDB Russia



Gravity Winner

McCann New York walks away with Project Isaac's top honor, the Gravity Award, for its groundbreaking virtual-realty bus tour of the red planet, "Field Trip to Mars," on behalf of client Lockheed-Martin. Instrumental in the effort, which also cleaned up at Cannes and other awards shows, was tech firm Framestore. To read how this epic journey came together, click here.



VCU Brandcenter's proposed bottle cap for Dasani's water bottles is so ridiculously simple, it's a wonder no one dreamed of it before. This surprisingly low-tech step to conserve the planet's most precious resource, water, devises a custom bottle cap that could then be attached to home water faucets—increasing water pressure and decreasing the amount of water used. For more on our Student winner, awarded in the Design category, click here.



We Believers: Saltwater Brewery, Edible Six-Pack Rings 

It's no secret that six-pack plastic rings found on beer and soda cans are harmful, even deadly, for birds, fish and other animals and marine life. In fact, according to Greenpeace data, 80 percent of sea turtles and 70 percent of seabirds consume plastic daily. But how do you go about fixing such a massive problem? Enter We Believers. The New York agency, along with client Saltwater Brewery, created the first biodegradable, compostable and edible six-pack rings made of leftover barley and wheat from the brewing process. By October, it expects to start mass-producing them.

"Soon we'll be able to manufacture about 1 million of these rings per month," says Gustavo Lauria, co-founder and CCO of We Believers. "We reached out to Saltwater Brewery because we knew this message had to come from the craft brewers—that's the only segment of the beer industry that's actually growing—and these guys are all about the ocean and ocean conservancy."

The sustainable packaging idea was born out of living in New York where "you see trash everywhere, on every single corner and there's an insane amount of plastic and waste created," says Lauria. "We wanted to do something about it." Starting with a craft brewer like Saltwater Brewery, at a time when the craft industry is growing and cans represent over 50 percent of those sales, according to the Beer Institute's data, made sense for the agency.

Now We Believers, which submitted a patent for its sustainable packaging concept, is looking to make its work ubiquitous.

"If we really want to make a dent in the problem, this needs to become the new standard, not only in the beer industry but with whoever makes any sort of packaging," says Lauria. "We can create 12-packs, we can create boxes, we can create a lot of other things because [what's new] is the material. That's the magic of this whole thing."
Kristina Monllos


Product Development

360i: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation: Adaptoys

There's no denying the impact the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has had on the advancement of technology to help the one in 50 people who live with paralysis. But one area long overlooked was the ability to interact with children through play. Engineers applied sip-and-puff assistive technology and other cutting-edge tech to a customized headset to let wheelchair-bound people wirelessly drive a remote-control car. Following a demo that involved a celebrity (Eric LeGrand, the paralyzed Rutgers University football player who's become a face of the advances in this field), agency 360i launched a crowdfunding initiative to bring attention to the development of this toy technology, centered around a social strategy featuring a film made from the demo. Within three days, 450 media hits helped get the word out.
Michael Burgi

Comercial "Adaptoys" de 360i The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation from PRODU on Vimeo.



FCB Brasil: Nivea Brasil, Nivea Doll

Nivea is no stranger to the Project Isaac Awards, having won the Gravity Award in 2014 for a magazine ad that let users charge their phones. São Paulo-based FCB Brasil, the agency behind that effort, helped the skin care brand devise a doll built with ultraviolet skin that turned red when exposed to the sun to show kids how easy it is to get sunburned without adequate protection. An application of Nivea sunscreen either prevented the doll from "burning" or returned the doll's skin to normal. They were distributed across Rio de Janeiro beaches over the course of summer 2015. The idea worked well enough that the brand is considering rolling it out in seven other countries. M.B.



Geometry Global: Lifebuoy, Handle on Hygiene

Nobody likes to think about the amount of germs and bacteria on shopping-cart handles. The more paranoid moms of the world even go so far as to put their babies into elaborate protective encasements. Dubai-based Geometry Global worked with client Lifebuoy, a soap brand that's well known globally, to create a way to sanitize handles with one easy swipe. A circular disc branded with the Lifebuoy name that can be swiped across the handles delivered a liquid said to kill 99.9 percent of germs. Carrefour, a supermarket chain that's big in the Middle East, put the discs on shopping carts used by 10,000 shoppers per day. The sales lift for Lifebuoy was 53 percent—and thousands of shoppers didn't get grossed out doing their weekly grocery shop.


Brand Performance

Cramer-Krasselt: Porsche 911, Hologram

Tasked with creating a campaign to promote the latest edition of the iconic Porsche 911—the longest-running model in automotive history—Cramer-Krasselt knew something out of the ordinary was in order. Not only would the campaign have to illustrate the car's (latest) long list of high-tech features, it had to do so in a way that would grab consumers' attention. So the agency came up with a truly groundbreaking concept: the first-ever holographic print ad.

"The 911 is really an incredibly technologically advanced product," says Cramer-Krasselt CCO Marshall Ross. "So instead of merely telling people that the car was advanced, we used the adage that 'The medium is the message' and used advanced tools of communication to talk about the car." After some brainstorming, Ross and his team decided that a three-dimensional hologram would most effectively illustrate the car's features. And when it came to choosing a platform for the ad, they picked, well, print. "The reason we chose to do it in print is because it doesn't make any sense to do it in print," explains Ross. "People don't think that print can become digital or three-dimensional, and breaking that paradigm was essential to our message."

Following quite a bit of experimentation—this was, after all, the first time that the agency or its video production company had experimented with a hologram ad—C-K created a flattened acetate prism that could be attached to a printed page. All told, 50,000 of the prisms were placed in select subscriber copies of the May issue of Fast Company, along with instructions for assembly. (An additional 100,000 pre-assembled Lucite prisms were also sent to high-value targets.) Readers were told to set the prism atop any tablet device, navigate to and press play, creating a floating three-dimensional hologram that showed the new 911 from the inside out.

The client was thrilled with the result. "Porsche is used to technological amazement within the walls of the company, so they were happy that we were thinking along those terms. But it wasn't until they saw the final version that they were really wowed," says Ross. And consumers were equally wowed. "We literally got typed letters from people asking how to get one of the prisms," he adds.
—Emma Bazilian



Product Development

Starcom: Samsung Consumer Electronics, Smart Windshield

In Italy, a whopping 20 percent of accidents involving two-wheel vehicles happen because the biker is using a smartphone—and that number rises to 24 percent if the driver is 18-24. Samsung Italy sought to keep bikers safer by creating the Smart Windshield, which displays calls, texts, emails and social media updates on a windshield from a smartphone connected via an app and Wi-Fi connection. Bikers can also send automatic text replies saying they are on the road and aren't available to talk.

Samsung promoted the product with a video by Leo Burnett Milan demonstrating its features. The agency asked consumers to send their ideas for safer vehicle operation. Thousands were collected via social media.

"People felt like they were part of the idea, and they wanted to contribute. Everybody wants to be creatives," explains Andrea Marzagalli, associate creative director at Leo Burnett Milan.

The ultimate goal for Samsung was to make driving scooters safer while creating a unique product, adds Francesco Cordani, head of marcom at Samsung Italy.

"We wanted to do something that nobody else has done before. We've seen a phone holder on a car, but we liked the concept of the windshield, because it provided specific info for the driver," he says. "We know that 90 percent of calls aren't urgent, so that just by knowing who's calling, it stops people from taking the phone out of their jackets, getting distracted and crashing."

Adds Marzagalli: "It's a good way for Samsung to show what they do, in addition to promoting their products. It's good for a brand to show that they're always working on new ideas and new products that are correlated with the products they sell, but also solve problems."
—Christine Birkner 


Social Media

VML: Gatorade's Super Bowl Dunk

Last December, Gatorade's senior director of consumer engagement, Kenny Mitchell, grabbed drinks in Chicago with Imran Khan, chief strategy officer at Snapchat. As they were talking about the app's upcoming features, the idea came up to crash Super Bowl 50 with a digital ad mimicking the Gatorade dunk—the tradition of dousing a sports coach with a cooler filled with the brand's sport drink after a particularly big win.

"Collectively we said, 'Wouldn't it be interesting if we were able to use the lens and the lens functionality to help democratize the dunk, one of the most iconic celebrations in sports clearly associated with our brand?'" recalls Mitchell.

At the time, Mitchell and his team at Kansas City-based VML were just beginning to learn about Snapchat's burgeoning sponsored-lenses ad product that layers colorful filters on top of selfies. They had to work quickly to create the campaign from scratch before the Super Bowl aired on Feb. 7. After multiple iterations and tweaks, the group settled on a filter that made it look like a cooler filled with the sports drink was spilling over users' heads while fans cheered in the background.

The result? More than 165 million views on more than 8.2 million videos that users created in 48 hours. Plus, the average Snapchatter spent 29.9 seconds playing around with the content—a stat that's likely to grab the attention of marketers that spent millions running 30-second TV ads during the Super Bowl. A follow-up study with Millward Brown found that the campaign's brand favorability was 1.4 times higher than the average mobile ad for a consumer packaged-goods brand and 21 percent of users associated Gatorade as their "go-to drink while exercising."

Glen Scott, group creative director at VML, adds that Snapchat's heavy millennial audience—more than 60 percent of U.S. consumers between the ages of 13 and 34 use the app—stood out against other social platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

"We've always been a little hesitant to activate against the dunk because it's such a natural moment that happens in the game and it might be a miss if we tried to commercialize it somehow," says Scott. "This ended up feeling like the right opportunity because it's not about what happens on the field—it's about the fans being able to participate."
—Lauren Johnson

Gatorade The Super Bowl Dunk from VML on Vimeo.


Ad Tech

Starcom: Samsung Galaxy 6, Bringing Geo-Fencing Into the Programmatic Age

The ubiquity of advertising for smartphones has quickly veered into overexposure. So it's to some relief for consumers that Starcom, Samsung's media agency, built a custom, self-service platform that targeted high-prospect targets in a hyper-specific way. Using both target and geo-location data, Starcom combined audience data from three mobile media suppliers with a proprietary demand-side platform to segment more precisely. Rather than geo-fencing to a tenth of a mile like other efforts, Starcom expanded the radius to one mile using satellite data, adapting the effort by tracking those exposed against a control group to understand conversion to store visits. The campaign drove nearly 300,000 incremental store visits, which was 7.5 times higher than benchmark, and a 68 percent reduction in CPMs. —M.B.



Wunderman Buenos Aires: Fundación Huésped, Testimonies

In Argentina, where one in 400 people are HIV positive, the Fundación Huésped, an NGO that does research and testing, struggled to raise funds due to public apathy. With the help of agency Wunderman Buenos Aires, the group employed the same chip technology found in greeting cards with audio messages to communicate a message to those who had been tested for HIV but were found to be negative. The messages were recorded by those struggling with AIDS and placed inside letters that informed those tested of the Fundación results, exhorting recipients to not take their good fortune for granted and to pay it forward. The effort generated 4.5 million media impressions and a 67 percent lift in donations. —M.B.


Out-of-Home Media

Posterscope: The Mosquito Killer Billboard

Here's a killer out-of-home initiative that destroyed thousands of potentially harmful mosquitoes while building significant public-awareness buzz in the war against the Zika virus.

A few months ago, staffers at Dentsu Aegis shops Posterscope and NBS grew increasingly concerned that governments "were not doing much to fight the mosquitoes" that carry the virus, says Otto Frossard, strategy director at Posterscope Brazil.

So the shops took their case to the streets, installing a dozen special billboards on busy thoroughfares in neighborhoods throughout Rio de Janeiro. These signs emitted lactic acid and carbon dioxide to mimic, respectively, human perspiration and respiration, luring Aedes aegypti mosquitoes within a range of more than 1.5 miles.

Once trapped inside the billboards, the mosquitoes quickly expired from dehydration. The billboards ran for two months at the height of Brazil's summer season, killing about 100 mosquitoes a day, and more than 30,000 of the pests overall. "The physical aspects of the OOH medium were transformed into an ingenious tool," says Boston University marketing professor Judy Austin.

Indeed, the effort ties into a recent trend of making OOH campaigns more useful than ever. "It is increasingly necessary to be relevant to people," says Frossard. "We need to offer something of great value" to capture people's attention as they walk through a media-saturated landscape. Presenting consumers with an immediate tangible benefit, especially when coupled with technology, tends to drive interest and engagement exponentially, he says.

In less than 10 days, the case study uploaded to the NBS YouTube site was viewed more than 100,000 times, and news outlets around the world ranging from the BBC and CNN to Fox News and The Huffington Post ran stories about the campaign.

"That this technology is now free online for the use of any country in the world"—available under a Creative Commons License, allowing others to make mosquito-killing signage of their own—"has jaw-dropping scale and life-saving possibilities," says BU's Austin. 
—David Gianatasio


Media Buying

Cadreon: Dodge Ram, Hyper-targeting Insights Enabler

Faced with a limited budget and not a ton of inventory, IPG Mediabrands' programmatic arm, Cadreon, in Mexico City looked to boost sales for the Dodge Ram 700. It started by identifying three male target groups: business owners, men visiting multiple branches and young entrepreneurs. Cadreon then set about geo-fencing supply centers with a mobile campaign that followed the targets wherever they moved, adding on digital out-of-home media screens programmatically linked to Cadreon's trading desk. TV ads purchased programmatically by postal code optimized reach and frequency. The result? Reach surged 300 percent for all three targets, while purchase consideration rose 10.6 percent versus traditional buys. What's more, brand recall was up 4.6 percent. Ultimately, Dodge dealers reported a 200 percent sales increase for the model versus the year prior. —M.B.



Mindshare: Campari America, Moments That Matter

Given that 28 Americans die every day from drunk driving, it is incumbent on spirits makers to try harder to raise awareness. But as TV ads often don't resonate, Campari America took to what it calls "data-infused" mobile, via agency Mindshare and mobile rewards network Kiip (which offers rewards to users playing its games). Involving Wild Turkey, Skyy and American Honey brands, the liquor firm offered as a reward $5 coupons with ride-sharing service Lyft for bar patrons. Using mobile helped reach users right when they are considering another drink and a Lyft ride, or to call it a night. In total, nearly 180,000 Lyft coupons were redeemed, part of a 20 percent engagement rate with Kiip (five times the norm). Another result: a 48 to 56 percent lift in awareness and purchase consideration for the spirits brands. —M.B.


App Development

SapientNitro: SpeakEmoji

This has been a banner year for the emoji. Brands from Coca-Cola to Ikea made their own emoticons while others like Pepsi put emojis in their ad campaigns and on their packaging. SapientNitro picked up on the trend, watching as smiley faces and hand gestures became a language of their own—but a language that some older folks weren't quite able to decipher. The solution was a voice-to-emoji translator app—the first ever created—called SpeakEmoji.

The idea was to not only make it easier for parents to communicate with their emoji-loving teens during the holidays, but to also help turn emojis into a universal language that people around the world could use to communicate. Someone in Argentina could communicate with someone in Japan or France just by downloading an app. A glass of wine, a Christmas tree, a present and a smiley face translates to Merry Christmas while a hole on a golf course and a clapping emoji translates to golf clap.

As a creative company deeply embedded in the tech space, SapientNitro felt that it had "as much right as Apple, Google or Coca-Cola to put stuff into the public space that is cool, interesting and digital based," says Mark Hunter, executive creative director at SapientNitro. A handful of offices—from London to Miami—got to work creating all of the emoji word and phrase translations so developers could then load those into the database.

One of the toughest challenges for the team came while creating the actual emoji translations, as the team needed to take into account sarcasm, irony or words and phrases with more than one meaning. "All the subtleties are baked into language, so now we had to program all these emojis to understand all these different things. It was amazingly complex," adds Hunter.
Katie Richards



Wunderman Buenos Aires: Yumit

A couple of universal truths about kids: They like to play games (especially the video kind), and they usually do not like food that's good for them. Enter Yumit, an interactive food plate that senses how much food a kid is eating. Data then links to a video game the kids are playing, lending (or taking away) energy to the characters based on what a kid eats. Furthermore, parents can link to the data feed to track how well their kids are eating (they also have an option to leave messages for their offspring in the game itself). It's another winning effort from Wunderman Buenos Aires (which won the editorial Isaac Award; see page 30), which is working with an unnamed video game company to include Yumit into its offerings and has tied in an Argentinian autism organization (St. Martin de Porres) to add Yumit to its treatment plans. —M.B.


Media Planning

Essence: Google, YouTube Creator Campaign

There are so many YouTube creators out there, but only a select few break through to achieve a huge following and the internet fame that goes with it. Google U.K. sought to boost the fortunes of two such creators, Sorted Food and Copa90, with a data-rich, targeted plan that used, of all places, YouTube itself. Creating TrueView ads promoting Sorted Food and Copa90 that ran before and after other more popular creators resulted in the ads registering in the top 1 percent in terms of awareness uplift among over 1 million TrueView spots. The effort generated a 66 percent uplift in awareness for both creators among the U.K. target audience of consumers 18-34. (Essence notes that it had a lot of help, from OMD, Talon, Grand Visual, Co-Collective, Hook and WeAreSocial.) —M.B.



Web Video

VML: Motorola Mobility, Moto 21 in 1

Don't you ever wish your photos could come to life? Motorola, in promoting its 21-pixel Moto X smartphone, did just that, employing Ryan Shude, a "tableaux vivant" photographer (lots of small stories in a single photo), to shoot one of his tableaux in one shot using just that camera. Designed with Instagram in mind as the primary display vehicle (after all, Instagram is a place where creativity in photography is celebrated), Motorola and agency VML split up each of the stories and created 21 mini-videos for each of its character's moments. Shot on location in New York City's Coney Island, the shoot incorporated a variety of Instagram and local celebrities (including hot-dog eating champ Joey Chestnut). A six-week campaign saw 2.2 million engagements across the campaign content, alongside 1.9 million views. Ad recall generated a 14 point lift. 



OMD: Intel, Intel Inside, Amazing Experiences Outside

This year, the world mourned the passing of rock legend David Bowie. Long before that, Intel had approached another innovative musician, Lady Gaga (with her Haus of Gaga design collective), to collaborate on creating a live music experience that incorporated Intel technology, in association with the Grammy Awards broadcast on CBS. At the last minute, the experience was altered to reflect Bowie's passing—with Gaga memorably honoring him by performing a medley of his hits. (Intel equipped her with a chip-enabled ring that allowed her to control movement onstage.) OMD and its branded content unit were instrumental in creating an integrated campaign that started at CES this year and included a 30-second spot that identified the brand leading into Gaga's ode to Bowie and culminating in a 90-second spot that ran immediately after the broadcast.



Horizon Media: Dune of Dreams, VoterGuru

Horizon Media earned an Isaac last year in the best practices/management category for launching Dune of Dreams, an incubator that encourages staffers to come up with new inventions. Ben Krakow took advantage of that opportunity by using it to create VoterGuru, devoted to sorting through political candidates. It came just in time, too, as the presidential primary, notably on the Republican side, was awash in contenders who at first were hard to distinguish from one another. Krakow and his software engineer friend Ben Atkins tracked the voting records and public positions of all the candidates, pairing them up with a voter's individual likes and dislikes to find the ideal match for him or her. The ultimate presidential picks of the two major parties cannot be pinned on Krakow or Atkins—but they tried their best. —M.B.


Sports Marketing

Momentum Worldwide/Los York: Verizon, Game Winner

Super Bowl 50 brought out some of the best marketing efforts from numerous advertisers. Verizon suited up for the big game with agency Momentum Worldwide, which worked with content agency Los York to create an immersive on-site experience for fans at San Francisco's Levi's Stadium. Standing in front of a 200-degree, 10-foot high, ultra-HD projection screen that virtually placed them on the gridiron, fans got to make the key pass to win the game (using motion-sensing tech). Play-by-play commentary by CBS' Greg Gumbel was overlaid onto the videos created, while retired football great Marshall Faulk announced a fake NFL Network highlight reel that included their "play." Each fan received their personal video clip via email within minutes of leaving the experience. —M.B.

Verizon Game-Winner from Patrick Jones on Vimeo.



Akestam Holst: Refugee Phones, Broadcast Without Borders

Swedish philanthropic concern Refugee Phones has equipped Syrian refugees with donated phones to call their relatives back home—but those relatives often don't have phones. So the organization worked with agency Akestam Holst to advertise on a Syrian radio station to encourage refugees with its phones to call a number that let them record messages for their loved ones. The messages were then repackaged into about 150 ad messages on Fuse FM, a Syrian station whose main demographic overlapped most closely with the refugees' families. It all took place in the week leading into Syrian Mother's Day (March 21). An upside was the significant media attention the effort earned. —M.B.

Refugee Phones - Broadcast without Borders from Ourwork on Vimeo.



CP+B: Domino's/General Motors, DXP Pizza Delivery Vehicle

At Domino's, orders are going through the roof—from the chain's franchisees, that is, who've been requesting more of the company's colorful DXP delivery cars nationwide.

Branded with the restaurant's familiar red, white and blue colors, with space on board for 80 pies (plus drinks, sides and sauces) and built-in warming ovens, the single-seat DXP—or Delivery eXPert, a modified Chevrolet Spark—hit the road last fall to considerable fanfare. "We wanted to continue to prove to our customers that we have their best interests at heart, that we are relentless when it comes to pushing ourselves to make the customer experience better," says Karen Kaiser, vp, advertising and Hispanic marketing at Domino's. "It's not enough to just tell people you stand for or believe in something, you must show them through some kind of action the brand takes."

Domino's worked for several years with CP+B and design group Roush Enterprises to perfect the DXP. Ultimately, the team fashioned a sleek, functional delivery platform that also serves as a mobile advertisement and media curiosity, driving the Domino's name further into the public consciousness.

"We've had over 1 billion—yes, with a B—impressions to date," says Kaiser. The initial rollout of 97 vehicles generated lots of attention, proving so popular with franchisees that 58 additional DXPs have been hitting the streets throughout the summer.

"Each of these marvelous ovens on wheels has real dimensional power to extend the Domino brand experience," says Judy Austin, a marketing professor at Boston University. "People will be anticipating the pizza's arrival so they can come out with their kids to see this Jetson-esque delivery machine up close."

All that interest is exactly what Domino's had in mind. "That's how you create brand activists, fanatics and evangelists," Kaiser says.



MEC: MEC Live Hire

Job hunting may be one of the most horrific experiences newbies to the workforce have to endure. GroupM-owned MEC decided to compress the entire process for a lucky 10 hires last fall into a one-day process, from interview to hire (or rejection). On Sept. 28, the first day of Advertising Week in New York, MEC set up outdoor tents along West 41st Street, just outside the Times Center (one of Advertising Week's nerve centers), where it interviewed candidates for entry-level positions IRL, in millennial parlance (for the rest of us, that's "in real life"). MEC says it adopted a "behavioral" approach to mimic a speed-dating round, and both global CEO Charles Courtier and North American CEO Marla Kaplowitz took part. In the end, 10 candidates were hired on the spot, and #MECLive emerged as one of the top hashtags at the event. —M.B.



Zulu Alpha Kilo: Say No to Spec

Nobody wants to work on spec—the equivalent of saying "work for free, and you'll get paid if we like it." Five years ago, the Toronto-based agency Zulu Alpha Kilo put an end to the practice. But last year, it took its stance on spec even further by making a humorous YouTube video interviewing restaurateurs, health trainers and others about whether they would work on spec. Naturally, they all rejected the idea ("ass backwards" is how one put it). The video went viral in a matter of days, exceeding 2 million views, and much media coverage followed. ZAK founder Zak Mroueh also wrote a column on the topic for Medium. After the push, the agency got more new-business calls than it had in its history, with some clients removing spec requirements from RFPs. —M.B.



CP+B: Kraft Heinz, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Blind Taste Test

Typically, agencies are recruited to come up with ad campaigns to launch a new product or service. But when Kraft Heinz set out to reintroduce its iconic mac and cheese brand—reformulated to be healthier but running the risk of alienating fans who feared it might taste worse—CP+B opted to not devise a campaign. Rather, the brand quietly launched the revamped product, waited several months, then unleashed a PR blitz to alert consumers that they had been enjoying the new product without sacrificing what they always loved about it. Positive sales results were emphasized in media coverage, which was 92 percent positive. —M.B.


This story first appeared in the August 22, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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