HBO Max, Degree and Verizon are among the 2021 Digiday Awards finalists

New audiences, inclusivity and reemergence from quarantine became the backbeat of this year’s Digiday Awards shortlist

In what is still a time of uncertainty, with some parts of the world navigating a great reopening and other parts grappling with COVID-19 variants and limited vaccine access (or adoption), the nature of consumer behavior is constantly changing. However, digital media and marketing persist, and the nature of the ecosystems in which they work is now a part of the everyday fabric of the job. As always, the creative teams that drive campaigns for publishers and advertisers adapt. 

The latest installment of the Digiday Awards acknowledges the evolution of an industry, one that has not only transformed because of the pandemic and quarantines but one that has shifted in other profound ways as well. The sweeping calls for advocacy and inclusion have also shaped what the Digiday Awards judges have before them, in October 2021, as does an ongoing industry-wide shift to represent — and reach — younger demographics in the developing spaces they work and play (specifically, mobile and online games). 

Finalists found their gamers in 2021 campaigns

Take, for example, Excedrin, a double Digiday Awards finalist for Best Multi-Platform campaign and Best Strategy Pivot. Working with Weber Shandwick, the pain reliever’s program in 2021—  “Game Over for Headaches” — broke through to a new audience by leveraging influential streamers in the gaming space. Excedrin partnered with Twitch to create original content that spoke authentically to gamers. The outcome for the campaign was heightened earned coverage and positive consumer attention, and ultimately “Game Over” became the start of meaningful business results. 

To be sure, Mtn Dew is no stranger to gamers, with its “Game Fuel” slogan securely a part of console culture. As the PepsiCo brand worked with OMD, the media agency fused the caffeinated beverage with game influencer messaging that foregrounded authenticity and premium content. John Cena, professional wrestler and actor, helmed the launch of Mtn Dew Major Melon, the brand’s first new flavor in more than a decade, driving interest in the runup to the 2021 Super Bowl and highlighting in-game sweepstakes across every major social media channel. The campaign drove significant sales in Q1 and garnered OMD triple-finalist status in the Digiday Awards — Best Use of Influencer Marketing, Best Product Launch Campaign and Most Innovative Media Agency. 

Brands and media companies maintained the inclusivity beat

From deodorants to swimwear, from soft drinks to cinema, advertisers, media companies and their partners continued to push for expanded representation in their 2021 campaigns.

Degree showcased inclusive design that made its deodorant product accessible to people with different upper-limb abilities and differently sighted individuals. Their campaign told truthful and courageous stories and highlighted how other brands and companies could successfully implement similar changes to their product designs. The ‘Degree Inclusive’ campaign is shortlisted for Best Product Launch Campaign.

Amazon Studios connected with Imprint Projects and put voter suppression in the spotlight in 2021. ‘All In for Voting’ included documentary films, an experiential roadshow, and a multi-platform awareness campaign. It touched down at 55 brand-hosted voter registration events and 21 outdoor film screenings in disenfranchised communities. The effort earned Amazon and Imprint a spot among the finalists for Best Multi-Platform campaign.

Body inclusivity and alternatives to hyper-sexualized swimwear were the driving themes behind Summersalt’s ‘Every Body is a Summersalt Body’ campaign. Featuring two dozen accomplished women, the messaging showcased a spectrum of sizes, different sizes, backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, and sexualities to demonstrate that every single body belongs in a suit of its choosing. Summersalt is shortlisted for best Branding Campaign B2C in the Digiday Awards.

Finally, The Coca-Cola Company activated its Sprite brand to make a statement supporting social justice and Black Lives Matter. Partnering with Havas Atlanta, Moxi, and industry influencers, the program gave $50,000 to influencers to give to the causes of their choice. The brand also hosted a series of virtual performances by artists called “Sprite Way” — the shows also gave back, donating funds to independent performance venues via Save Our Stages. The campaign stands among finalists for Best Strategy Pivot.

As cities and travel reopened, campaigns centralized support and safety

With storefront businesses deeply impacted during quarantines, as HBO Max brought on-site film productions back online, they did so with an eye on helping local vendors benefit from having their locales featured on audiences’ screens. Dropping giant purple pins with QR codes near the stores filmed on and around locations for its film “In the Heights,” customers could scan the codes and redeem rewards from the local businesses. Complete with a micro-site to help people find the pins, the campaign wrapped with a spot on the Digiday Awards shortlist for Best Multi-Platform Campaign.

Expedia knows travel, and as the world cautiously returns to the roads, the air and destinations, the full-service travel site provided inspiration and tips to give travelers confidence in their plans. They also replicated superstar Joe Jonas’s hand and distributed 500 of the exact replicas for those who might need a little actual hand-holding on their first trip after quarantine. The campaign, in turn, handed Expedia a finalist spot for Best PR Campaign.

Check out the full shortlist below as we wait for the judges’ decisions on all the Digiday Awards finalists.

Best Creative
Tapjoy and Bully Pulpit Interactive – The Biden/Harris 2020 Presidential Campaign
Comedy Central
Verizon and Madwell – The Reset
Land Rover, Outside and dentsu X
Known and Shift4 – Inspiration4

Best Collaboration
SHISEIDO and Dentsu Inc. – “Camellia” The brand film we didn’t shoot
Pepsi, NFL and Roc Nation – Super Bowl LV Halftime Show
Genero and Nespresso – Nespresso Talents
Fox News Media and Tunnel to Towers Foundation – Memorial Day Special Branded Content
INNOCEAN USA and Hyundai Motor America – The Un-Adventurers
Digital Dominance and ResMed – Changing lives with every breath

Best Use of Social
Nomadic Agency – Capcom Resident Evil Village Alternate Reality Game
Courageous Studio – AT&T Forces of Change
Initiative – Gen Z chooses Rexona
eos products and Mischief @ No Fixed Address – Cooch Blessings Campaign
Febreze and M Booth – Bedazzling Millennials with a Kardashian Brand Fan
Campfire and The INKEY List – #AskINKEY Campaign

Best Use of Mobile
Tapjoy and Bully Pulpit Interactive – The Biden/Harris 2020 Presidential Campaign
Aki Technologies and Family Dollar
Insider – Rebranding with New Mobile App Launch
(General Mills) Nature Valley & Mindshare – Sensory Ads by RUMBLE

Best Use of Video
Known and TikTok – It Starts On TikTok
CarMax – “Pinch Me”
TV Land
CONVICTS – The Dance Theatre of Harlem
XX Artists – Ancestry’s Kidsplaining Series
Edelman and TAZO Tea (Unilever)

Best Use of Influencer Marketing – NEW
MG Empower and Bumble – #MyLoveIsBlackLove
Collab, OMD and PepsiCo – Late Night Tastebuds
eos products and Mischief @ No Fixed Address – Cooch Blessings Campaign
Zeno Group and Crest – Crest Whitening’s Beauty Breakthrough
MTN DEW GAME FUEL – 2020 Gaming Influencer Campaign
Known and TikTok – It Starts On TikTok

Best Product Launch Campaign
Barbarian and Fenty Beauty –  Fenty Eau De Parfum Ghost Stores
NYX Professional Makeup – Shine Loud High Shine Lip Color Launch
Accompany Creative – Launch of Nespresso Premium Single-Origin Coffee Portfolio
Signia & Griffin360 – Signia Active X hearing aid launch
Degree – Launch of Degree Inclusive
OMD and PepsiCo – Launch of Mountain Dew Major Melon

Best Branding Campaign B2B
Insider and ING – Transforming Business/Changemakers’ Playbook campaign
Oracle – Wall Street Journal Brand Advertising Campaign
Lycored – Nourishing connections
IDG and Domo – State of the CIO Data Dashboard
Wistia – Show Business

Best Branding Campaign B2C
Movement Strategy and Klarna
SEEN Connects and Simply Be – Fit For An Icon
Pepsi – Match Me if You Can
Summersalt – “Every Body Is A Summersalt Body” Campaign

Best Multi-Platform Campaign
HBO Max – On Location
Movement Strategy and Looney Tunes
Evoke and Foundation Consumer Healthcare, Plan B One-Step
Imprint Projects and Amazon Studios – “All In For Voting”
Weber Shandwick & Excedrin (GSK Consumer Healthcare) – Game Over for Headaches

Best Search Campaign
Goodway Group and Anytime Fitness
Investis Digital and Happy Valley
In The Know Glossary
Terakeet and Leading Mortgage/Lending Company
January Digital for David’s Bridal

Best Strategy Pivot – NEW
American Century Investments – #ACCFantasyGolf
Weber Shandwick & Excedrin (GSK Consumer Healthcare) – Game Over for Headaches
Havas Atlanta, Social Center (The Coca-Cola Company, North America) and Moxie
Wray & Nephew and Warm Street – Culture & Digital Partners

Best Audio Campaign
Edelman & Good Humor (Unilever)
Velocity, ViacomCBS and LEGO® – Lego Friends Podcast
Nickelodeon and iHeartRadio – Avatar: Braving the Elements podcast
CBS News – My Life Of Crime Podcast
In The Know – We Should Talk

Best PR Campaign
Edelman & Dove (Unilever)
Expedia & Zeno Group – Lend A Helping Hand to Anxious Travelers
Weber Shandwick, Chicago – “Swim Heard Round the World”
Weber Shandwick, Chicago – American Pecans – Super Safe Pecan Debate
Movers+Shakers, e.l.f. Cosmetics & SHADOW – Chipotle Mexican Grill & DayOne Agency
The Martin Agency – UPS and J Balvin #JuntosImparables

Most Innovative Publisher
The Dodo
In The Know
Courageous Studios

Best Gaming/esports Campaign
In The Know Bowl
SHISEIDO, Dentsu Inc. – “Camellia” The brand film we didn’t shoot
BEN Group, Electronic Arts, and Velan Studios – Launch of “Knockout City”
Viral Nation – PUBG MOBILE Version Update Launch
Edelman & Edgewell Personal Care (Schick)
TikTok and Enthusiast Gaming – TikTok Gamers Greatest Talent

Most Innovative Media Agency
Kyra Media
Canvas Worldwide
Sela, a PCA Group Company, and OZNaturals
OMD Worldwide

Most Innovative Brand
Pepsi – PepsiCo Beverages North America
Reverb – The Pedal Movie
Lycored – Nourishing Connections
Known and Shift4 – Inspiration4

Most Innovative Technology Platform
STN Video
Intowow Yieldbooster

Most Innovative Independent Agency
Imprint Projects
Klick Health
We are Rosie – Welcome To A New Way To Work
SEEN Connects

Leader of the Year
OS Studios – John Higgins, CEO
SEEN Connects – Sedge Beswick, Founder and Managing Director
Bev – Alix Peabody, Founder and CEO
Collectively – Ryan Stern, CEO
PepsiCo Beverages, North America – Greg Lyons, CMO
HUM Nutrition – Walter Faulstroh, Co-founder & CEO

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