PMG, Zenith and UM are on the shortlist for the first Digiday Media Buying and Planning Awards

For agencies, the pandemic has brought both challenges and opportunities. Being forced to confront changes to the traditional business model in addition to a torrent of brands striving to bring their efforts in-house proved formidable tests. However, those teams that could navigate a path through unprecedented change and leverage uncertainty clearly demonstrated their value to brand clients. 

The first-ever Digiday Media Buying and Planning Awards program recognizes the agencies that helped their clients stand out from the crowd in an ever-changing landscape. The nominees earning spots on this year’s shortlist weren’t afraid of change; they embraced it, finding innovative ways to reach consumers who remained at home or were emerging for the first time in months, and they did so with messaging that resonated.  

Zenith, for example, helped beauty brand Sally Hansen cut through the noise of the at-home manicure space that exploded when nail salons were forced to close. By launching an augmented reality try-on experience through Snapchat, Sally Hansen enabled consumers to see what the colors from its Summer 2020 line would look like once applied and educated them about using the brand’s top-coat product to get salon-like results at home. A partnership with Ulta enabled frictionless shopping from the Snapchat tool to the website where orders could be placed. The campaign drove results at each stage of the consumer funnel and has earned it a nomination for Best Use of Emergent Media.        

Digital marketing agency PMG landed on the shortlist for its work with Best Western Hotels and Resorts to encourage a return to travel while also helping the brand prepare for the rebound after months of slowdowns. To do this, PMG utilized innovative prediction modeling and media buying to get the brand ahead of the competition. Through custom dashboards, PMG’s strategy enabled Best Western to stay ahead with visualizations of the expected timing of bookings driven by the agency’s managed media. Its use of regional, foot traffic, weather, vaccination and other data to identify booking behaviors and opportunities secured the agency a spot on the shortlist for Best Use of Data. 

Agencies on the shortlist also helped brands join the conversation when it came to complex, but important, topics that emerged during the pandemic related to racial justice and equality. The agency UM did just that with Aveeno. After learning that less than 10% of shelf space is given to beauty products developed for Black skin, the Skin Health Startup Accelerator Program was created in partnership with Essence. The campaign called on Black female business owners leading innovative brands, technologies or products that specifically addressed Black skincare needs to enter a pitch competition and a chance to win a $100,000 grant and free brand mentorship. An omnichannel channel strategy to spread the word about the program brought attention to the entrepreneurs and Aveeno’s authentic commitment to inclusive beauty. This program earns UM a spot on the shortlist for Best CSR Initiative. 

The winners in each category will be selected soon by our judges. Until then, check out the complete list of finalists below. 

Best Brand Integration into Digital Media
Hearts & Science + HBO Max – The Flight Attendant
NBC News Custom Productions: American Identity
Stella Rising: Creating Impact for S’Mores with Stuffed Puffs
The Basement – Schlage Brand Refresh

Best Brand Integration into Gaming/esports
Neutrogena® & UM – Futurecaster

Best Brand Integration into Traditional Media
Hearts & Science + HBO Max – Superintelligence

Best CSR Initiative
Aveeno & UM – Skin Health Startup Accelerator
Hearts & Science x Courageous Studios x AT&T: Forces of Change

Best Ecommerce Strategy
Havas Market and Arena Media for Proximo Spirits – ChannelAdvisor Shoppable Social
January Digital for Cariuma
Socium Media x Steve Madden
Wpromote and Spanx – A Data-Driven, Real-Time Optimization Approach to Black Friday/Cyber Monday Strategy

Best Media Agency Pivot

Best Media Plan
Chemistry Agency & Miller’s Ale House – You’ve Earned This
Hearts & Science + HBO Max – The Undoing
January Digital for David’s Bridal
Socium Media x Steve Madden
Stella Rising & Power Crunch: Protein Reimagined
Zelle® & Pereira O’Dell

Best Use of Data
InMarket & Frisch’s Big Boy
January Digital for David’s Bridal

Best Use of Emergent Media
Chemistry Agency & UPMC Health Plan-Virtual Concierge
DİMES Battle | Smoothie x Milkshake
Electric Symphony Media – Hillel International #OwnYourStar
Kepler Group and Champion: Reverse Weave Week
Nature Valley and Mindshare – Take In The Outdoors
Sally Hansen, Zenith and Snapchat Nail Augmented Reality Partnership

Best Use of Technology
InMarket & Frisch’s Big Boy
Nielsen & OpenAP

Most Diverse Spending
Aveeno & UM – Skin Health Startup Accelerator

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