A Look Back at the 2011 MIXX Awards: It's Not Just Interactive Advertising

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MIXX AwardsIt’s easy for me to say that the winners of the seventh annual IAB MIXX Awards, which recognize creativity and impact in interactive advertising, created large-scale, ambitious, experiential, interactive campaigns that went beyond telling stories to building them, many times from the ground up—and that would be truth. But to be frank, looking at the winners of the 25 categories from Business-to-Business Campaign to Digital Out-of-Home Advertising, I see something more revolutionary. I see campaigns that hardly fit into what we often envision when we say “interactive advertising.” The brilliant creative transcended traditional online advertising “boxes” to forge lasting bonds between brands and consumers by delighting, surprising, and interacting with them. But you don’t have to take it from me. The judges, and the work itself, tell a similar story.

“This year I noticed a theme of invention, where brands and agencies were creating inventions and then using those inventions to tell stories,” said MIXX Awards Judge Jeff Benjamin, partner, chief creative officer, Crispin Porter + Bogusky. His team contributed to the Best in Show winner, “Small Business Saturday” for American Express OPEN by Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Digitas, and he explained that they created a Rocky, underdog type of story—not through a linear narrative, but by utilizing several different platforms and inventing a day. “The same way we relied on TV or print in the past to tell these narratives or stories, we’re using inventions now to do that. It’s taking us to a place that’s sort of modern storytelling.”

The “Small Business Saturday” campaign quite literally created a day dedicated to shopping at small businesses—similar to Black Friday or Cyber Monday. The hub of the initiative was a Facebook page where consumers could show their support and small business owners were provided with tools to support the cause. Coordinated with the social media activation was a TV spot adapted for viewing online, in elevators, at sporting events and taxi cabs, as well as full-page newspaper ads and radio spots. American Express brand host Ellen DeGeneres in addition to other “Small Business Saturday” supporters tweeted about the endeavor. In the end, forty-one mayors and governors officially declared November 27 Small Business Saturday and small businesses saw many more people using their AmEx cards.

Another invention Benjamin pointed to is the winner of the gold for the Mobile Platforms and Apps category: the “Bud Ice Cold Index” created for Diageo Ireland by DDB UK. In this case, the marketer and agency worked together to invent an economic model, he said.

Bud Ice Cold Index“Bud Ice Cold Index”, IAB MIXX Gold Winner for Mobile Platforms and Apps

The “Bud Ice Cold Index” gave beer drinkers in Ireland discounts on pints of Budweiser based on the weather. “The hotter the day, the less you pay,” the summertime 2011 campaign said. At its center was a mobile app that informed consumers of their local temperature, how much they’d save on Budweiser, and nearby participating bars. The program was supported with television, digital video, Twitter, Facebook, and out of home. By the end of the summer, the app was downloaded 150,000 times and 50% of the target market took part in the promotion.

“Any good campaign or marketing execution is going to take advantage of what’s happening in someone’s life beyond your brand or products,” MIXX Awards Judge DyShaun Muhammad, senior marketing manager, Bisquick and Wal-Mart, General Mills, said. The “Bud Ice Cold Index” did this by creating an association between the weather and Budweiser. Many of the winners produced this powerful type of experience, one that broke down the divide between the online and the offline, and that reflected consumers’ deeply rooted individual values.

Emma Cookson, chairman of BBH New York, and first-time MIXX Awards Judge, pointed to the bigness and boldness of the winning executions. “It’s quite easy to be creative around little things, peripheral, quirky projects, but when you get creative ideas and executions on these big platforms and these big scales, it means hey, we already have grown up and are using these solutions.”

Suzie Reider, the head of video advertising for YouTube, and multiyear MIXX Awards Judge, gave credit for this growth to the buying community. “Creative agencies will bring all kinds of crazy stuff but it takes an innovative, confident buyer to say, ‘You know what? We haven’t done anything that big and bold yet, but let’s go for it.’”

These types of robust experiences also require a more collaborative and close working relationship between the marketer and the agency, said MIXX Awards Judge Nick Law, executive vice president, chief creative officer, R/GA. “Agencies that are helping their clients’ businesses grow are sitting with their clients and figuring out their business problems and using media and technology to solve them,” he said. It’s no longer as simple as a marketer makes a product followed by a copywriter and art director team fitting ideas into pre-determined constraints like banners and 30 seconds of television time. “If you’re doing advertising, you’re doing something that fits into a template,” he said. “You’re not inventing anything,” he said.

To see the winning “inventions” please visit the Winners Gallery—and then try to outdo them.

About the Author

sp_doty_david.jpg David Doty

David Doty is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of the Interactive Advertising Bureau.