Project Isaac 2018
By David Gianatasio
Buckle up for Adweek’s sixth annual Project Isaac Awards honoring campaigns that rocketed brands to new heights, propelled by a potent mixture of innovation, creativity and technology. This year’s Gravity winner, McCann New York’s “Astronaut Reality Helmet” for Nat Geo Channel, displays inspired scope and vision, harnessing cutting-edge tech (VR) and original invention (25 replica space helmets were built with internal projection systems) to create a literally out-of-this-world experience. The other honorees follow a similar trajectory, using big ideas and novel delivery systems to transport consumers on remarkable journeys of discovery.
Nat Geo, VR Helmet, McCann New York
Gravity Award Winner
If you’re yearning to get a closer view of the solar system without leaving Planet Earth, Nat Geo Channel has the right stuff for you: an immersive VR experience that takes place inside the network’s “Astronaut Reality Helmets.” Developed by McCann New York to tout director Darren Aronofsky’s science show One Strange Rock, 25 such lids were tricked-out with internal film projection units and visors that provided a full field of vision. You could turn your head this way and that to fully admire breathtaking footage of the earth, moon and sun, just as they appear from orbit.
“It’s no longer just about doing the best practice in existing technology platforms” for innovative campaigns, says agency executive creative technology director Nir Refuah, “but about inventing the technology that truly delivers the creative idea and brand content.”
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HBO, SXSWESTWORLD, GIANT SPOON
Marketing and Advertising: Event/Experience Invention
At SXSW in March, HBO recreated Westworld’s frontier fantasyland in a 90,000-square-foot, minutely detailed theme park, offering tailored experiences to visitors based on responses to a personality assessment. 66 actors took part—sorry, no robots. All told, the three-day activation—which took four months of planning and five weeks to build—generated 1.9 billion impressions and more than 500 press items worldwide. “We've started the next chapter in experiential,” says Giant Spoon co-founder Trevor Guthrie, “a chapter that requires participation—where you, as a person, become part of the brand’s story.”
HEINZ MAYONNAISE, MAYOCHUP, VML
Marketing and Advertising: Product Development Invention
Ketchup + mayonnaise = Mayochup, a tangy push designed to introduce Heinz Mayonnaise. Via Twitter, the brand asked Americans if they’d like to see ketchup and mayo combined. Big numbers poured in: 2.28 billion impressions, 1,245 media mentions and nearly 1 million Twitter poll responses. (Since the majority gave Mayochup a thumbs-up, the combo product is available for pre-order online.) “Not only did Mayochup effectively break through the newsfeed, but it created a groundswell in cultural conversation,” says VML group director, integrated strategy Madeline Nies. “It turned mayonnaise into a something worth talking about again.”
TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF TOURIST DEVELOPMENT, THE COLORBLIND VIEWER, VML
Marketing and Advertising: Customer Experience Invention
To promote Tennessee’s dramatic fall foliage, the state’s tourism office installed high-tech viewers at scenic spots that allowed people with red-green colorblindness (some 13 million Americans) to enjoy autumn’s vibrant, fiery hues for the first time. Their reactions were captured in an online film that generated more than 9 million views and national coverage resulting in 662 million earned impressions and $2.5 million in earned media value. In the weeks following the campaign, hotel revenue near viewer locations rose 9.5 percent year over year.
PAYPAL, LOCAL SELECTS, CP+B
Marketing and Advertising: Commerce Invention
PayPal’s livestream experience digitally transported users to flea markets and bazaars in Los Angeles, New York and Sydney. On select days, folks could shop along with PayPal hosts, receiving product details and purchase options in real time. The livestreams generated nearly 600,000 combined views, more than $250,000 in transactions and 21,016 consumer signups. CP+B Los Angeles managing director Ryan Skubic believes Local Selects succeeded “because it brought people together. In the process, the campaign showed off the simplicity and seamlessness of the platform in an entertaining way.”
STATE STREET GLOBAL ADVISORS, FEARLESS GIRL, MCCANN NEW YORK
Marketing and Advertising: Creative InventionMedia: Out-of-Home Media Invention
Since her debut in March 2017, staring down Wall Street’s charging bull statue, this bronze representation of a confident young girl has become an iconic symbol of female empowerment. Her assured stance sparked intense global attention (billions of impressions), plus big-time industry kudos (four Grand Prix and 10 gold Lions at Cannes, plus five Grand Clios and the N.A. Grand Effie). The week after Fearless Girl appeared, SSGA’s Global Diversity Investment Initiative (comprised of corporations with the highest percentages of women in leadership roles) saw a 384 percent increase in its average daily trading volume.
PHILIPS, MOM’S ENERGY, WUNDERMAN BUENOS AIRES
Marketing and Advertising: Marketing Invention
Wunderman and Philips designed shoes that collected kinetic energy and stored it in batteries. They provided this footwear to multitasking moms with extremely busy lives. An app let the subjects monitor how much energy the batteries collected (900 kWh in 10 days overall). On Oct. 15, 2017, Mother’s Day in Argentina, that power was unleashed at Sardá Maternity Hospital in Buenos Aires to run equipment for 24 hours, helping new moms and babies. Philips’ sales got a charge from the campaign, rising 71 percent last October year over year.
MERCEDES/THAI HEALTH, UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE OF PAIN, BBDO BANGKOK
Marketing and Advertising: Design Invention
Sometimes, even when patients can convey they’re in pain, language barriers prevent them from providing information that would allow doctors to properly treat their condition. In Thailand, where many languages are spoken, this problem is particularly acute. So, Mercedes, maker of the Sprinter medical support vehicle, joined with Thai Health and BBDO Bangkok to create a visual system to diagnose illness. For example, the fire icon represents a “burning sensation,” while knots indicate “twisting pain.” In the stomach, the former could indicate acid reflux, while the latter might suggest an intestinal obstruction. The effort shows how brands can leverage innovation to address societal problems.
INTEL, 2018 PYEONGCHANG OLYMPICS, OMD
Marketing and Advertising: Sports Marketing Invention
To portray Intel as a cutting-edge tech provider, and not just a PC player, OMD rewrote the company’s playbook for the Olympic Winter Games. Partnering with NBC, Intel True VR broadcast more than 30 events in virtual reality. During the opening ceremonies, thousands of drones electrified the sky, majestically forming the Olympic Rings. Intel also drove awareness of 5G mobile, and leveraged esports to amplify excitement. The results were pure gold, as the company earned 32 percent of all social mentions, double the share of any other sponsor.
HOME DEPOT, BUILT-IN PINS, 22SQUARED
Media: Social Media Invention
Videos that served as both how-to primers and 360-degree shoppable Pinterest experiences showed a couple renovating and redecorating their bedroom, kitchen, living room and bathroom with products from Home Depot. Stores displayed scannable Pincodes, sharing campaign content a few steps from checkout. The goal, according to Melanie Babcock-Brown, the retailer’s senior director, agile marketing, was to “illustrate the entire journey to help users gain both the insight and the confidence to do it themselves.” The work generated 315 million impressions and 36 million video views, while the “Built-in Pins” board attracted 300,000 new followers.
DESTINY 2, GHOST SKILL, AKQA
Media: Gaming InventionMedia: Voice/Audio Invention
AKQA brought Destiny 2 character Ghost to life through a tabletop device that connected with Amazon Alexa. Speaking with the voice of the in-game actor, Ghost offered advice to players and let them contact friends without having to grab a phone. “Video games weren’t considered a part of the smart-home experience, despite the fact that they are at the center of millions of living rooms,” says AKQA creative director E.B. Davis III. “This skill was the first to bridge that gap.” Ultimately, the initiative helped users “immerse themselves more deeply into our world,” he says, generating more than 400 million PR/social impressions along the way.
19 CRIMES, CONFESSING LABELS, JWT
Media: VR/AR Invention
Sometimes, criminals make the best spokespeople. On its labels, 19 Crimes, an Aussie winery, features British convicts who were banished to Australia in the nation’s early days as a penal colony. JWT brought their stories to life through an augmented reality app. When folks scanned a bottle, the rogues told their tales. Consumers downloaded the app 1.2 million times, and sales doubled year over year. JWT executive creative director Sean DallasKidd says the campaign “excited retailers by creating a new form of interactivity at shelf,” and appealed to shoppers by “giving them an experience to share with friends and family.”
GOOGLE, THE CHAIN, ESSENCE
Media: Digital Publishing Invention
To launch the Pixel 2, Google enlisted fashion designers, stylists and models as media creators. Using the phone, those influencers crafted content that ultimately formed the basis of a 32-page magazine distributed in London boutiques. Purchase intent spiked 40 percent. “The Chain was a challenge to ourselves—would it be possible to make a magazine with a Pixel 2 and find a way to express its core point of view?” says Google senior marketing manager and strategy lead Michael Jenkins. “The fashion industry challenges conventions, so it was a perfect fit.”
MOVISTAR, PERSPECTIVES, WUNDERMAN BUENOS AIRES
Media: Mobile Invention
Perspectives enabled viewers to flip their handsets 180 degrees and switch between two videos that flowed seamlessly together. One clip showed a kid suffering the pain of cyberbullying. The other revealed signs of trouble that parents of such kids might not see. Wunderman also developed a website where victims could report abuse. “Technology is our key pillar—we communicate stories using it, we live with devices that represent extensions of our body,” says Sebastián Tarazaga, agency CCO, Latin America and Argentina. “With Perspectives, we wanted to reflect the need for the responsible use of technology,” with a device itself as a core campaign element.
RT, #1917LIVE: THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION IN TWEETS
Media: Print Invention
What if Twitter had existed during the 1917 Russian Revolution, and figures such as Lenin tweeted about their experiences? Russian international TV network RT created such an alternate universe, with more than 7,000 tweets sourced from memoirs, diaries and letters. The goal was “to create a surreal feeling, as if the events from a century ago were breaking into [users’] daily newsfeeds,” says project creative producer Kirill Karnovich-Valua. RT collected that content in an interactive book, giving students and educators a fresh perspective on historical events, and the pages came alive via QR codes scanned with a smartphone.
SAMSUNG, PREDICT TO PREVENT, BBDO BANGKOK
Media: App Development Invention
Words matter. Especially when communicating with people who suffer from depression. Yet, misinterpretations are common in texting because nuances can be difficult to convey. Even seemingly innocuous and well-meaning texts such as “Cheer up” or “Don’t cry” can upset folks who are battling despair. One wrong word can trigger a tragedy. This app recommended the best phrasing, in English and Thai, in order to avoid potentially harmful miscommunications. (For example, it changes “Don’t cry” to “You can cry if it helps.”) What’s more, the initiative sent an exceedingly positive message about the brand.
FREE RADICALS, SEARCH RESPONSIBLY, ALMA DDB COCONUT GROVE, FLA.
Best Practices: Data Invention Marketing and Advertising: Brand Performance Invention
Violent extremist groups use online searches to lure potential members. Alma DDB and Free Radicals hijacked this tactic, creating Google Search ads that mimicked alt-right recruitment messages (“Black on White Crime in the U.S.—What They’re Not Telling You,” “Are All Women Feminazis?”) to attract at-risk folks to a site that would reveal the truth and, hopefully, lead them in a positive direction. Since launching in March, the project has generated more than 260,000 impressions, and there’s been a big increase in individuals contacting Free Radicals for help in exiting hate groups.
SKITTLES, EXCLUSIVE THE RAINBOW, DDB CHICAGO
Best Practices: PR InventionMarketing and Advertising: Brand Storytelling Invention
One of this year’s most memorable Super Bowl-themed commercials was created exclusively for one viewer: Skittles super-fan Marcos Menendez. Actor and director David Schwimmer starred in the teaser spots to build buzz for the ad, which will never be shown to the general public. Instead, on Super Bowl Sunday, the brand livestreamed Menendez watching the commercial. The sweet results included a 7 percent lift in Skittles Originals instant-consumption dollar sales during the campaign’s five-week run. “When you respect your audience and truly deliver a narrative they’re interested in, you can earn your way into culture instead of buying your way in,” says DDB N.A. chief creative officer Ari Weiss.
P&G, THE TALK, HEARTS & SCIENCE
Best Practices: Partnership InventionMedia: Media Planning/Media Buying Invention
The Talk focused on the inevitable conversation black parents have with their kids about racism and prejudice. Elements included a Cannes Grand Prix-winning film by BBDO aired during an episode of ABC’s Black-ish (which also dealt with bias), and a shout-out by Oprah Winfrey on OWN’s Queen Sugar. The effort scored more than 1.8 billion earned media impressions and boosted P&G’s sales among African Americans. It succeeded by “authentically speaking to consumers of color directly and showcasing P&G as an organization that understands not only their household needs, but the issues facing them,” says Elyse Johnson, executive director, Content Collective @ Hearts & Science.
WOMEN IN EQUALITY FOUNDATION, FEMPLEA, WUNDERMAN BUENOS AIRES
Best Practices: Charity/Pro Bono/Pro-Social Invention
“Gender violence is a very serious problem in our country,” says Sebastián Tarazaga, CCO, Latin America and Argentina at Wunderman Buenos Aires. “We decided to create a communication campaign that exposed this reality.” Many women feel uncomfortable letting male plumbers, painters and electricians into their homes. So, Wunderman joined with the Women in Equality Foundation to develop a free app that helped women hire female contractors for various services. The app included robust search functionality and vendor profiles, commerce tools for speedy payment, and security features such as facial recognition and ID verification.