Project Isaac Awards 2019

Throughout the year, we celebrate creativity, trailblazers and young influentials, efforts around diversity and inclusion, sports leaders, brand geniuses, and standout agencies and media plans. But the Project Isaac Awards are something else entirely: They honor those who answer a craving for invention, that rare quality at the heart of truly standout work. In the case of We Believers, winners of the Gravity prize, they also honor those who answer the urge for a flame-grilled burger.

Burger King Mexico's 'Traffic Jam Whoppers'

We Believers

Gravity Award Winner

We can all agree rush hour is pretty miserable, but this past April, commuters in Mexico City got a bit of a reprieve: the ability to order Whoppers to their cars.

The inspiration for the campaign came after Gustavo Lauria, chief creative officer of We Believers, spent an hour in a car on the way to a meeting with Burger King CMO Fernando Machado. Recalling that Machado wanted an idea relevant to Mexico, Lauria—fresh from his commute—arrived at the meeting and said, “What if we deliver Whoppers in the middle of traffic jams?”

Machado approved the idea in less than five minutes, no formal presentation required.

Planning was a bit more involved. They had to identify traffic hot spots and restaurants, and what combination would enable 30-minute deliveries. After that, there were just a few minor details to deal with: developing an app to support mobile payments; asking consumers to preregister with email addresses and license plate and credit card numbers; ensuring delivery drivers had compatible handsets; creating a back-end interface to identify daily delivery zones and to track orders; figuring out a means of integrating the service into restaurants (the solution: an iPad placed next to cash registers); and populating digital billboards with data from customers and their orders.

Then they realized orders would have to be voice-enabled to comply with traffic laws. The voice-activated menu simplified orders not only because consumers were driving, but also because voice assistants had to speak Spanish.

“It was a long weekend,” says Marco Vega, chief strategy officer at We Believers, the AOR for Burger King Mexico.

The result: nearly 400 Whoppers delivered to traffic-marooned customers—10% to 15% of which were handed off at the moment the driver passed by Burger King, Vega says.

The campaign also created a new revenue stream and marked the first time Burger King Mexico accepted mobile payments.

“This was the proof: a) people are open to mobile payments, and b) they were safe and willing to give you their credit card number,” Vega notes.

Now We Believers is considering other high-traffic cities like Los Angeles, São Paulo and Shanghai, as well as locations like the Tijuana border, which has lots of potential customers waiting. —Lisa Lacy

NEW BALANCE, RUNNING APPAREL, VMLY&R, NEW YORK

Marketing & Advertising: Event/Experience Invention

Runners love to crush a beer after crushing a personal best. Tapping into this motivator, New Balance created the Runaway Pub to support its sponsorship of the Virgin Money London Marathon. Using a mobile app that connects with running app Strava, runners could turn their miles run into currency for free beer. “More than a pub, the Runaway became a hub for runners,” says Jason Xenopoulos, VMLY&R's CEO, New York, and CCO, North America. “They urged for the pub to remain open after the marathon.” Over 23,000 runners logged more than 532,000 miles through the app—the equivalent of more than 20,000 marathons, or almost 63,000 pints. —Rae Ann Fera

BEHR PAINT, IBM WATSON ADS, IBM WATSON ADVERTISING

Marketing & Advertising: Digital Transformation Invention

To make choosing paint colors (dare we say) fun, Behr Paint teamed up with IBM Watson Advertising to develop AI-powered ads that helped people find their perfect color. Using natural language processing and tone analysis, the ads engaged consumers in real-time, 1:1 conversations to deliver a personalized paint color recommendation—based on things like what room they’re painting and the feeling they want for the space. The interactive ads, which were the agency’s first AI-powered campaign for the retail industry, drove a 17% increase in purchase consideration and an 8.5% lift in store visits. —Heide Palermo

HBO'S WESTWORLD, ALEXA VOICE SKILL, 360i

Marketing & Advertising: AI Invention

New tech meets the Wild West in HBO’s Westworld: The Maze activation, where superfans are able to interact with the Western world they love in an entirely new way. Using an Alexa Voice Skill, fans can navigate the world by challenging their own fandom and recalling trivia to help them find the center of the maze. The ultimate destination was a place in viewers’ hearts long after the show’s season finale. —Nicole Ortiz

PEDIGREE, DENTASTIX, COLENSO BBDO, AUCKLAND

Marketing & Advertising: Product Development Invention

Everyone loves a good selfie, except dogs, who have no time for sitting still. So to help New Zealand dog parents take Insta-worthy pics with their pups—and bolster brand loyalty—Dentastix devised the Selfiestix, a captivating treat holder that attaches to phones. The accompanying app uses facial recognition that was developed with Stanford University’s canine data set to create fun dog-face filters. With a goal of getting 1 in 2 people to share their photo, the project yielded impressive results: 59% who used the app shared their photo on social. Better still: Dentastix sales grew by 21% and is now rolling out globally. —Rae Ann Fera

THE MILL, REAL-TIME ANIMATION SYSTEM, THE MILL, NEW YORK

Marketing & Advertising: Creative Invention

What if you could cut down the time it takes to fully animate a CGI character from weeks to just one day? The Mill’s groundbreaking real-time animation system Mascot combines live rendering with motion sensors in a proprietary system that enables humans to “puppeteer” photorealistic CG characters. The result is a human-powered digital mascot that can perform, respond and interact with its audience in real time. This new form of character digitization allows creatives to improvise and iterate in a completely new way, paving the path for the future of animation. —Heide Palermo

PEPSI, FMCG, PEPSICO CONTENT STUDIO, NEW YORK

Marketing & Advertising: Brand Storytelling Invention
Marketing & Advertising: Marketing Invention
Marketing & Advertising: Sports Marketing Invention

Uncle Drew started as a digital short and evolved into a feature film that earned $44 million at the domestic box office. Not bad for a story about a basketball fan who persuades a legendary player, the titular Uncle Drew, to gather up the old team and triumph at the big neighborhood tournament, even if they’re supposedly past their prime. Led by an all-star cast that included NBA notables Kyrie Irving, Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson and Lisa Leslie, Uncle Drew scored rosy reviews (“certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes and an “A” CinemaScore) and 5 billion-plus brand impressions. Looking to take this momentum into overtime, Pepsi released the film in China this past January. “No one wants branded entertainment,” notes Lou Arbetter, general manager of PepsiCo Content Studio. “They just want entertainment.” —Nicole Ortiz

KLM, BBDO, NEW YORK

Marketing & Advertising: Brand Performance Invention

When all the niceties are stripped from an experience—like travel, for instance—little touches make an even greater impact. It’s what sets KLM Royal Dutch Airlines apart in Europe, where it’s known for being customer-centric and innovative. To raise its profile in the U.S., the airline launched Care-E, a self-driving airport buddy that hauls bags and offers suggestions with a winsome smile. Media coverage increased buzz for KLM in the U.S. by 69% and reputation by 26%. Says BBDO vp, creative director Pol Hoenderboom: “We found a way to be at the frontier on innovation while keeping KLM’s brand values of being personal and caring at its core.” —Rae Ann Fera

WILLIAM PATRICK CORGAN, ROOM-SCALE, IMMERSIVE VR EXPERIENCE, ISOBAR U.S., NEW YORK

Media: VR/AR Invention

“Aeronaut,” the VR video for Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan’s solo album, Ogilala, is a virtual-reality feat. The room-scale experience was filmed using 106 cameras and blends 2D content inside a 3D VR world that viewers can experience from their own perspective, heightening the impact of lyrics that touch on loss and mourning. But for all the innovation that came from a partnership with Google, Viacom and Isobar, it’s the emotional impact that most resonates, says Dave Meeker, executive producer of “Aeronaut” and chief innovation officer at Isobar. “It is very moving. What began as technical exploration became a very meaningful experience that taps into something very human.” —Rae Ann Fera

ORIGINALS NMD, ADIDAS, FIRSTBORN, NEW YORK

Media: Mobile Invention

With long lines and predatory resellers, shoe releases have become a drag for sneaker aficionados. Adidas, Champs Sports and Firstborn changed that bummer of a reality with “Hidden in Plain Sight,” a series of WebAR-enabled wild postings that for a month in early 2019 turned street corners into drop zones for new kicks. Fans who found the posters could explore and purchase directly from the experience. Firstborn chief creative officer Dave Snyder says the drop was “successful beyond expectations.” It generated almost 36 million impressions, average engagement was 2 minutes 45 seconds with 87% conversion and the NMD Camo saw a 168% lift in sales. And most important, only real fans got their hands on the new product. —Rae Ann Fera

BACARDI, BBDO, NEW YORK

Media: Social Media Invention
Media: Video Invention

With “Live Moves”—made for IGTV, Instagram’s longer-video platform—Bacardi created the first interactive music video with Instagram Polls and brand partnered with street dance duo Les Twins and musician A-Trak to engage fans. Over nine hours, people could vote on elements like location or choreography and Les Twins would comply in real time. There were 1,024 potential video outcomes, and more than a million fans took part at a rate of 7,200 votes per hour. But the excitement didn’t stop there. “Before we were able to cut together the final version, [people] shared their own on Instagram, which was fun to see and definitely unexpected,” says Taylor Marsh, creative director at BBDO, New York. In all, the video received over 31.5 million media impressions. —Rae Ann Fera

TUENTI, TELECOMMUNICATIONS, WUNDERMAN BA, CIUDAD AUTONOMA DE BUENOS AIRES

Media: Gaming Invention

Damsels in distress are a popular trope, particularly in videos games. For Women’s Month, Argentinian mobile phone company Tuenti sought to dispatch such outdated representation with Pitaya, a game where the princess takes care of herself, thank you very much. Designed for mobile play, Pitaya’s leading lady overcomes street harassment, stigmatization and social expectation. Thanks to the game, Tuenti increased its database by 70%, Pitaya was played for 2,100,000 minutes (over six minutes per person) and it received 12,851,702 media impressions. “But more importantly,” says copywriter Gastón Durán, “all of us who grew up with the wrong message got the message.” —Rae Ann Fera

MOVISTAR, TELECOMMUNICATIONS, WUNDERMAN BA, CIUDAD AUTONOMA DE BUENOS AIRES

Media: Voice/Audio Invention

When it comes to gender violence, calls for help are often coded in conversation. Maria’s Message from Movistar, Argentina’s largest mobile phone provider, serves as a metaphor for self-censorship. Delivered on WhatsApp, the message is different depending on how you pay attention. Listen on speaker and the message seems positive; put the phone to your ear and the audio changes to reveal a darker truth. The message was shared more than 12,500 times in the first week, reporting of abuse rose by 22%, thousands of unique messages were created online and it was shared by influencers. Says creative director Juan Calvo: “By hacking the use of a massive media, we impacted users.” —Rae Ann Fera

WENDY'S, VMLY&R, KANSAS CITY

Media: Esports Invention

Sometimes being so wrong can be so right. Such was the case with Wendy’s foray into Fortnite. To talk to people where they played, the brand created a red-haired character and joined the game—and played wrong. Instead of killing players, Wendy’s went ballistic on freezers. “Hundreds of thousands of Twitch viewers watched Wendy’s play the game ‘wrong’ for more than nine hours,” says VMLY&R associate director of conversation design Matt Keck. How did they respond? “[They] stopped killing each other and began destroying burger freezers instead.” Users watched more than 1.1 million minutes of the freezer rampage, mentions of Wendy’s increase by 119% and Fortnite ended up annexing freezers from the game for good. —Rae Ann Fera

GOOGLE, GOOGLE STORE, ESSENCE, NEW YORK

Media: Media Planning/Media Buying Invention

To boost the efficacy of Google’s ads, Essence and the tech giant placed their bets on machine learning, building a direct-response, AI-driven protocol that optimized customer value and produced a 22% higher return on advertising spend. Their solution also increased efficiency. By using pattern recognition to improve scalability, they made it 60% faster to develop models and improved accuracy by 40%. For the customer, the experience translated this way: “Nothing wasted or extraneous,” says Garrick Schmitt, evp, global experience director at Essence. “Just ads that can assist.” —Nicole Ortiz

LOCKHEED MARTIN, LOCKHEED MARTIN SPACE, MCCANN, NEW YORK

Marketing & Advertising: Design Invention
Media: Ad Tech Invention
Media: Out-of-Home Media Invention

Today’s space race isn’t between countries; it’s between companies. So to find the brightest engineering talent, Lockheed Martin and McCann New York devised a unique recruitment tool: a a 14-foot box placed at top engineering universities with an invitation to solve real-world engineering problems. Three of them were hard; one was nearly impossible. While other companies show up on campus with pamphlets and applications, Lockheed Martin knew what truly great engineers can’t resist: a challenge. In 4,000 attempts to unlock the box, 486 students succeeded, taking an average of eight hours to do so. Only six (0.15%) solved the nearly impossible problem. They were immediately offered a job—and a rare experience. The box was also the first animated infinity room created with a series of angled mirrors and a ceiling-mounted digital screen, and anyone who solved a problem was treated to a stunning 360-degree journey through the cosmos. —Rae Ann Fera

DOVE, BEAUTY PRODUCTS, PUBLICIS SAPIENT, NEW YORK

Best Practices: Partnership Invention

Seventy percent of women worldwide say they don’t feel represented by images in media and advertising. So Dove set out to show real women as they wanted to be presented. Partnering with Getty Images and Girlgaze, Project #ShowUs features over 5,000 photographs of women from 39 countries with zero digital distortion, all searchable on Gettyimages.com. “We’re already seeing widespread adoption of our hashtag, and industry is already adopting the use of the imagery and committing to their own change of representation,” says Rachel Bradshaw, senior manager, brand strategy at Publicis Sapient. Since its launch in March 2019, over 900 companies in 40 countries have downloaded more than 7,500 images from the collection. —Rae Ann Fera

AD COUNCIL/GRADS OF LIFE, 7-SECOND RESUMES, 22SQUARED, ATLANTA

Best Practices: Talent Invention

For youth without a post-secondary education, making their resume stand out can feel like a job in and of itself. To help them make their case, 22squared created 7-Second Resumes, video CVs that give young people virtual face time with recruiters. Site visits to GradsofLife.org increased by 68% because of the campaign, and companies like Starbucks and Salesforce.org discovered talent through it. ”For [many], their life experiences have prepared them for the workforce in ways a degree cannot,” notes 22squared svp, creative director, Ryan Stafford. “7-Second resumes gives them a platform to share how their life experiences translate into valuable professional skills.” —Rae Ann Fera

DEAF 911, A NONPROFIT OUTREACH OF ST. ANN’S CHURCH & COMMUNITY FOR THE DEAF, DEAF 911, SAATCHI & SAATCHI WELLNESS, NEW YORK

Best Practices: Charity/Pro Bono/Pro-Social Invention

Deaf or hard-of-hearing persons in America can order a pizza faster than they can contact 911, and less than 1% of the 6,100 emergency call centers are equipped to handle text-to-911 calls, making them four times more likely to die in an emergency. Deaf 911 aims to change those sobering stats. A prototype app, it connects a deaf person to emergency services in 30 seconds using an intuitive chat interface that provides real-time talk-to-text conversations with 911. “The democratization of 911 isn’t just a belief; it’s a right. But the law has not been followed,” says Scott Carlton, creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness. “It’s important to fill this unmet need and help save lives.” —Rae Ann Fera


JURY

A special thanks to our jury of industry leaders for helping us select this year’s honorees.

Chair: Tracy Quitasol, managing director, OMD Create

Brilliant Akakpo, coordinator, global creative marketing, Netflix

Amy Avery, chief intelligence officer, Droga5

Adam Baskin, director of innovation, Tool of North America

Lisa Bennett, CCO, Laughlin Constable

Judith Carr-Rodriguez, partner, CEO, FIG

Renee Cassard, chief audience officer, Hearts & Science

Aaron Evanson, ecd, VMLY&R

Jim Garaventi, founding partner, cd, Mechanica

Vann Graves, executive director, VCU Brandcenter

Kris Hoet, evp, global head of innovation, FCB

Katy Hornaday, evp, ecd, Barkley

Ellen Mullen, associate creative director, Situation Interactive

Rose Odeh, CMO, Optometrist Inc.

Mark Ray, principal, CCO, North

Garrick Schmitt, global director of experience, Essence

Katie Scott, managing partner, Bullish

Latha Sundaram, global business director, PHD

Patán Tarazaga, CCO, Latin America, Wunderman

Dara Treseder, CMO, Carbon

Louisa Wong, COO, Carat USA

Jim Wood, partner, ecd, AnalogFolk

Your sites feature HTML here...