Media Plan of the Year

Adweek names the most effective and innovative media planning work from leading agencies

The medium is the message—and never before has there been so much different media and, hence, so many ways to shade, inflect, blow out, or screw up your message. Marshall McLuhan’s formulation, more than half a century old, is more relevant now to the advertising business than ever before. The choice of media is the most complex, strategic, and formative part of any campaign. In many ways, media choice and strategy defines the brand. What’s more, the difficulties of achieving mindshare (not coincidentally the name of one major media buyer), once accomplished by mere repetition, have expanded exponentially. This issue celebrates the brains behind media planning. While often thought of as mere administrative function, as the winners of Adweek’s media planning competition show, the men and women who choose the space are some of the advertising business’s truly creative and innovative people.

Adweek this year selected 30 leading media agencies and asked them to submit their best TV, print, and integrated planning work across four dollar thresholds. The agencies were also asked to submit plans in three open categories: mobile, branded entertainment, and alternative. The following selections represent, in the estimation of Adweek’s editors, the most strategic use of media to best define message and maximize mindshare.

Wieden + Kennedy Portland

Electronic Arts ‘Hell in all its infernal glory’

$1 Million – $10 Million

Street teams “protested” the game at E3 

When Wieden + Kennedy began its campaign for the Electronic Arts video game Dante’s Inferno, the agency knew it would have to put EA through hell if the game was going to compete with genre giant God of War from Sony.

Launched nine months before the game’s debut, the campaign’s first phase focused on hard-core gamers, with a “Highway to Hell” theme keying on a different circle of hell (and associated sin) each month. That involved sending bloggers $200 checks during “greed” month and stunts like staged religious protests at the E3 games confab. Second phase? Reach. The agency bought the first Super Bowl spot for a video game in 20 years, which was watched by 115 million people and led to a huge spike of online interest. “Big, impactful cultural moments are viable, and mass media can still make a huge statement,” says Wieden group media director Kelly Muller.

As launch neared, Dante’s Inferno had 100,000 preorders, and the demo had been downloaded 4 million times. And despite mixed reviews, both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions broke into NPD’s top 10 sales list for February. —Anthony Ha

1 ASCII art hidden in source codes depicted game characters

 

 

2 Bloggers were sent $200 checks to showcase the concept of greed—with consequences for either cashing or keeping the check.

 

3 It was the first Super Bowl ad for a video game in 20 years. Gamers got a sneak peak at the spot the day before on Xbox Live.

 

KSL Media

Newegg ‘Mancave Madness’

Less Than $1 Million

 

Seizing on 2010’s March NCAA basketball frenzy, KSL Media, in its campaign for online tech-electronic retailer Newegg, created the “Mancave Madness” sweepstakes, which gave guys shiny entertainment gear to trick out their sports sanctuaries.

To expand beyond its main customer base of hard-core geeks and draw a wider swath of electronics enthusiasts into the contest, the KSL campaign, created by goodness Mfg, placed sponsorships on scoreboards in select cities while airing satellite and nationally syndicated radio promotions, and running banner advertising on websites like ESPN. “[The Man Cave] is the place for all your toys,” explains Michael Oddi, KSL’s chief marketing officer. “Men are into sports, and they’re also into electronics.”

The campaign’s centerpiece came with the integration of social media tool Dukky, which let Newegg.com track and analyze in real time as contestants shared word of the sweepstakes with friends and followers on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The campaign resulted in a flood of entries. “We drove over 200,000 submissions,” says Oddi. “Thirty-two percent of those sign-ups were a result of adding social-media sharing.” For Newegg.com, that helped fuel a double-digit sales jump in March 2010 over the previous year.

Perhaps the best part? The media spend was a relative bargain, costing the client under $1 million. —Gabriel Beltrone