Digital Leaders Detail What Makes This Work Part Of The Master Class

We spoke to leading agency creatives, influential marketers, and pioneering media company leaders—all members of the IAB MIXX Awards judging panel—about the year’s top digital advertising. Here’s what they had to say about what works and why.


What Inspires The Experts

“To launch its mobile ordering app, Taco Bell did the opposite of what other brands typically do to get attention, and ultimately downloads. There is so much noise on social media, with every brand battling to out-shout each other with constant streams of content; Taco Bell knew it had to be unique in order to stand out. So, the team took a risk and disrupted social media with their ‘Blackout’ campaign, silencing all of their social channels and driving fans to the one channel they wanted to activate: the new app. By creating curiosity and intrigue through absence of transparency, the Taco Bell team ultimately got attention and drove behavior exactly where they wanted it. In creating scarcity rather than abundance, they generated powerful consumer demand.”

Lori Senecal
Lori Senecal
President & CEO, MDC Partner Network
Global CEO, CP+B

“This was one of the few cases where the idea served the category: Data-Inspired Creative. Too often we confuse data with the idea itself. ‘Dream Team,’ created by Wunderman UK, did the opposite. It played graciously with the insight and demonstrated that in the right hands (and brains), a useful piece of data can become a powerful tool for creativity. And most importantly, the campaign worked!”

Ciro Sarmiento
Ciro Sarmiento
Chief Creative Officer
Dieste Inc.

"‘Adoptable Trends’ is a great example of how combining a unique creative idea with social media can drive significant awareness and results for a non-profit with a very limited budget."

John Costello
John Costello
President, Global Marketing and Innovation
Dunkin’ Brands

“Nike’s World Cup campaign was a series of incredibly successful films that culminated in ‘The Last Game,’ the epic story of brilliant footballers prevailing against the march of boring, bloodless clones. The film attracted a huge audience on social by neatly aligning the brand with the fans’ aspirations. Every World Cup starts with the hope that the pressure of the occasion will inspire players—not make them risk adverse. Featuring a team of famous Nike footballers rendered in the broadly appealing style of a Pixar animation, it’s no wonder it was viewed 90 million times.”

Nick Law
Nick Law
Global Chief Creative Officer
R/GA

“Creating the world’s largest multi-player game no doubt took a gargantuan effort from technologists and engineers, but still the ‘Androidify’ idea felt fun, effortless, and human—which is exactly how Android wanted to portray the brand.”

Joyce King Thomas
Joyce King Thomas
Chairman and Chief Creative Officer
McCannXBC

“There isn't much science behind marketing vitality, but the ALS Association's ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ is a case study in what happens when all the elements line up. It was simple, silly, social, selfless, and staggeringly successful (reaching a global audience larger than the combined audiences of the Super Bowl and the Oscars). It was also deeply human, helping to raise awareness of ALS and a record $220 million to fight it. At the end of the day, it may have spread because it relied on friends (rather than a cause or corporation) to get people to act, and to do so by doing something fun. It was fun to do, fun to watch, fun to share. Which, it turns out, is a pretty good way to approach a serious issue.”

Scott Donaton
Scott Donaton
Chief Content Officer
DigitasLBI

“In an era of ever-increasing consumer empowerment, marketers are going to need to learn to create sustainable and differentiated utility for their consumers by harnessing new technologies. The Taco Bell Mobile Ordering App elegantly rose to that challenge and drove an increase in business and favorability amongst the company’s core customers. It’s an example of how we all need to reinvent how we think about marketing in the post-advertising era.”

Lou Paskalis
Lou Paskalis
Senior Vice President, Enterprise Media Executive
Bank of America

“‘Living History at Union Station’ is an elegant marriage of technology and storytelling. The program recognizes the ubiquity of mobile technology and uses that ubiquity to bring a physical space to life in unexpected ways. And the innovative use of mobile beacons takes the idea to another level. There's something almost magical about seeing the past brought to life in the present.”

Zak Treuhaft
Zak Treuhaft
Former Chief Digital Officer
Grey

"How can you take something as blasé as a bathroom and make it interesting??? Well, you make it relevant to the conversation, of course, and IKEA did just that. Using strong digital techniques such as custom banners, user generated content, and themes common to all of us – like leaving towels on the floor – IKEA hit the trifecta and reached a large audience, motivating them to browse on IKEA and buy. If only it were that easy for everyone. IKEA took a risk by going to a place most of us consider private, and they won big by creating a conversation people were dying to have. Well done."

Laurie Koehler
Laurie Koehler
Consumer Campaigns Director, Americas Marketing Group
Intel Corporation

“The great thing about the Axe Black’s ‘Bring the Quiet’ campaign is the insight that we all crave an inner peace. That confidence is baked into the creative, so the brand is celebrating Axe's ‘certitude.’ Great, unexpected thinking for this target.”

Steve Wax
Steve Wax
Partner, Chief Narratologist
The Cooke Wax Partnership

“Location-based creative is challenging work. The technology alone can be tricky and complex, and converting it into meaningful creative and authentic brand experiences is even more difficult. British Airways got a lot of love for their extraordinary location-based billboard last year, and now smart USA comes along to reinvent test drive experiences with a clever campaign that is equal parts attitude and authenticity. It works because smart USA invested the technology of on-demand test drives with relevant locations, situations, and executions that feel reality-checked and product relevant every step of the way. The work is never intrusive, instead creating a wonderful sense of ‘invite us into your reality and we won’t disappoint you’ marketing. smart USA leverages technology to enhance the brand’s creative attitude and deliver value. My favorite part of the whole thing: it just doesn’t feel like marketing. It feels more like sharing. Pretty smart.”

Lincoln Bjorkman
Lincoln Bjorkman
Global Chief Creative Officer
Wunderman

“‘Like A Girl’ elegantly shines a light on a cultural sleight. It's pure emotion, executed immaculately—and is a perfect fit for the brand, since girls usually start to struggle with confidence right around the time they get their periods.”

Leslie Sims
Leslie Sims
Chief Creative Officer
Y&R NEW YORK

“’Emily’s Oz’ works as a multi-platform campaign that only a select few companies could deliver on. Comcast and Goodby Silverstein & Partners took the brief beyond the product and created a memorable narrative. Of all the work reviewed this year, the incredible production quality here stands out—and Emily provides an emotional reason to care. The compendium site provided an even deeper look into Emily’s world, and it’s a nice touch that Comcast offered a free accessible version of Oz as well."

Erik Rogstad
Erik Rogstad
Managing Director
AKQA

“The ‘Pantene Praise Project’ is a lovely example of how something true can drive a smart, simple idea and make a brand matter in the lives of women. Pantene understood that the brand could be the catalyst for women supporting other women. The mobile site was simple to use, making it easy for women to share their support through social channels. And with its unique method for personalizing messages, the support expressed became even more meaningful. This work is a nice reminder that celebrating and supporting women’s successes, whatever they may be, can encourage others in the future.”

Debbi Vandeven
Debbi Vandeven
Global Chief Creative Officer
VML

“Nike’s beautifully sendoff for Derek Jeter, the integrated campaign RE2PECT, is the commercial brand version of the extraordinary “Ice Bucket Challenge.” To say goodbye to the New York Yankees Captain, Nike made a simple and iconic behavior—tipping your cap like Jeter—the heart of its campaign. This is something bigger than words, an action. The campaign still used traditional media, but used it as a catalyst. Social platforms, celebrity and influencer content, and events created participation you couldn’t help but want to be a part of. Millions of passionate fans made and shared videos, Instagrams, and posts to be a part of the campaign and the story of Jeter’s sendoff. In the end what started as a simple action spread as a global movement across politics and entertainment. This year millions of people, whether they were tipping their hats or tipping an ice bucket, reminded us of all the creative opportunities that lay ahead."

Jeff Benjamin
Jeff Benjamin
Former Chief Creative Officer
JWT North America