Bumble, Dove and Pepsi are winners of the 2021 Digiday Awards

The Digiday Awards celebrate excellence in advertising and marketing over the last year with a full slate of winning brands, publishers and platforms.

With the continued impact of the pandemic, combined with some return to normalcy, 2021 has proven to be a year that pushed brands, publishers and platforms to think in new ways. The Digiday Awards are excited to honor those that found their footing in a consumer landscape that demanded a balancing act between taking risks and providing comfort, while also taking a stand on issues that matter.

This year’s winners demonstrate that they’re paying attention to how consumers’ habits have changed, meeting them where they are with unexpected and engaging content and formats — and each created opportunities for their teams to forge deeper connections with customers they reached. Showing that they’re not afraid to take a stand on important social issues and engage in what may have once been deemed contentious conversations also helped this year’s honorees stand apart from the pack. 

Check out highlights of several of our Digiday Awards winners below, and explore the winners guide to learn all about the campaigns and programs that changed the game in 2020, and for insight into what we can learn from the teams that earned a win.

MG Empower and Bumble leveraged influencers to showcase the diversity of love

When a study by Bumble revealed that more than half of Black people in the United Kingdom felt unrepresented in images of love in the media, MG Empower and the dating app company partnered to change that. The resulting campaign, #MyLoveIsBlack, is the winner of Best Use of Influencer Marketing. 

Working with carefully selected Black influencers, the campaign focused on content shared across Twitter, YouTube and Instagram that was inclusive, educational and relatable for Black British audiences. The content drove engagement by centering on topics that were personally relevant to these communities and critical and topical issues in the larger cultural zeitgeist, especially in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and institutional racism.

The personal resonance that was achieved resulted in the responding social media sentiment being overwhelmingly positive and reach and engagement stats that met or surpassed goals — like achieving more than twice their target in clicks on their YouTube series.

Edelman and Dove amplified the issue of hair discrimination and made a tangible impact

Edelman and Dove, winners of Best PR Campaign, partnered to tackle the issue of race-based hair discrimination with a multipronged campaign. 

With Dove’s ethos of constantly challenging traditional beauty standards, taking on the issue of hair discrimination was a perfect brand fit. The campaign started with amplifying the animated short film ‘Hair Love,’ which resulted in the short receiving an Oscar nomination and an eventual win. To push the message further, Dove invited a Black student who had been prohibited from attending prom because of his dreadlocks to participate in the ceremony and walk the red carpet with the film’s creators. 

The ultimate reach of this campaign brought hair discrimination to the public’s attention in a way it had never been before. It helped Dove garner signatures for its petition to pass the CROWN Act, legally protecting individuals from experiencing this injustice. The law was passed in Virginia and is under consideration in 22 other states. 

When a campaign results in this kind of fundamental social change while also increasing positive associations for a brand, it’s a win-win — and judges this year recognized it.        

Most Innovative Brand — Pepsi

In a year when media and content consumption habits continued to shift due to the pandemic, Pepsi overhauled its content strategy to forge deeper connections with consumers. The results have made Pepsi the winner of Most Innovative Brand. 

Pepsi partnered with Fox and MTV to create its first branded shows with the brand’s advocacy of individuality and unapologetic enjoyment in mind. These shows met consumers digitally by tapping into the timely trends of game shows and reality TV. 

By leaning into its values and history of boundary-pushing, Pepsi’s reimagined content strategy allowed it to stand apart from the competition and make more valuable connections with audiences.      

Like Pepsi, all of our winners have challenged themselves to look beyond expected expectations. These honorees show that any preconceived boundaries are purely suggestive, whether it’s the usual channels, formats, or conversations. And when these limits are breached in a thoughtful, engaging, and relevant way, campaigns can genuinely resonate with audiences. 

Check out all of this year’s winners below and read our guide for insight into all of the winning campaigns.

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