Themes & Trends

Social Activism & Brand Purpose

We continued to see brands finding a voice and taking a clear stance: on who they are and what they believe in.

Brands have taken on a new social role in recent years. eurobest 2019 saw work prompting changes in behaviour, representation, policy and legislation, as well as the ways that we protect and support people across the world.

This year’s work reflects a move away from short-term campaign mindsets and ‘purpose-washing’ as businesses continue to make meaningful investments in social causes and sincere commitments to upholding values. Winners in 2019 challenged outdated narratives and social injustice, made statements of hope and united people for a greater purpose.

A winning piece of work from The Female Company and Scholz & Friends Berlin challenged the government and changed the law. In Germany, female sanitary products are disproportionately taxed at 19%. Grand Prix winner The Tampon Book; a book against tax discrimination hacked the system by packaging tampons in an illustrated book and selling at the lower tax rate of 7%. The product prompted huge support and the first 1000 copies sold out in a day. The German government has since agreed to tax female sanitary hygiene products at the reduced rate from 1 January 2020.

We saw more work addressing inequality in 2019’s Grand Prix for Good winner from FCB Inferno London for The Big Issue. Pay It Forward changed the way that The Big Issue is sold, utilising cashless mobile payments to empower vendors and support people living in poverty. The result was an increase of 15% across participating vendor’s weekly sales and the most successful vendor saw an average weekly increase of 69%.

Volvo Cars’ The E.V.A Initiative also stood up to injustice and provided an open source solution to car safety in a much-needed move towards keeping women as safe as their male counterparts. The E.V.A. Initiative captured attention in a big way: Volvo’s Brand Share of Voice online exceeded Audi, Land Rover and Volkswagen over the campaign period and the groundbreaking piece of work took home this year’s Grand Prix in both Digital and PR.

Elsewhere, winning work addressed social stigma and made valuable progress in the representation of women. The much-celebrated film from Essity combined creativity and humour to tackle an ingrained social shame around the vulva. And the cultural impact of Viva La Vulva is reflected in sales: from 0% to 33% market share in the Nordics in under two months.

Work encouraging behaviour change was important in this year’s Awards, too. Diageo have set ambitious targets when it comes to reducing alcohol-related harm and Brand Experience Gold winner, Clear from AMVBBDO, made a meaningful move towards changing the way people in the UK consume alcohol.

Gaming: From Product to Platform

The new era of eSports has unlocked the potential of gaming, both for players and for the marketing industry as a whole. We are now beginning to see work elevating games beyond being a product to be sold.

75% of gamers use ad blockers and VPNs, and most of them don’t watch TV*. Gaming has become a platform to engage this notoriously hard-to-reach community, who typically don’t respond to traditional sponsored media or advertising. To capture attention, brands are telling new stories and finding ways to reach the gaming community on its own terms.

Radio & Audio Grand Prix winner Green Dawn from DDB Paris for Ubisoft found a way to reach gamers in their own environment and, for the first time ever, advertised a new game via the virtual radio of an existing one. A podcast series, based on the universe of the upcoming The Division 2 and broadcast ‘into’ Ghost Recon Wildlands, tells the story of seven kids trying to survive in a world destroyed by adults. A truly innovative piece of storytelling in its own right, the series manages to both enrich the universe created by Ubisoft and bring players in to another world ahead of the game’s release.

We saw more masterful storytelling and another win from DDB Paris for Ubisoft in Entertainment. My Life as a NPC moved away from the hero-led narrative traditionally adopted in adventure games marketing for the launch of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and broke the gaming fourth wall in the process. A social campaign gave a voice to the game’s ‘Non-Playable Characters’, who were briefly brought to life to give gamers their quirky, offbeat accounts of existence inside the Assassin’s Creed universe. It was the most successful social campaign ever made for Ubisoft, with an all-time high engagement rate of +138%.

Elsewhere in Entertainment, Gold winner Visit Xbox: The Birth of Gaming Tourism for Microsoft brought players a totally new way to experience a game: as tourists. To promote graphically enhanced games to a new audience, the winning piece of work from McCann London transformed Xbox into a travel brand across every touchpoint. Live-stream guided tours and the first-ever travel guide to games, co-written and published by Rough Guides, established Xbox as the ultimate platform for beautiful gaming worlds. And traffic increased by 55% following the launch.

Normalising Difference

Product innovation and technology moved the inclusivity conversation forward at eurobest 2019.

This year, we saw winners listening to communities of people whose needs are not normally catered for in core product offerings. Prioritising accessibility is starting to become an imperative for brands. It’s becoming a key consideration to create products and experiences that are available to everyone.

Practical solutions designed to help people live enriched, independent lives won across the Awards in 2019. This important new trend came up in two distinct ways: brands making smart changes to their existing products, and brands building totally new products to give marginalised people the access and support they deserve.

Making Products & Experiences Accessible

Brands and agencies have started to find new ways to prioritise inclusivity. From McCann Tel Aviv, ThisAbles addressed an access problem with IKEA’s core products. A range of free, downloadable additions made IKEA furniture usable for the tenth of the world’s population living with disabilities. It was a Grand Prix winning piece of work that did good and delivered real commercial results: sales of the supported products grew by 37% in volume, while overall revenue grew by 33% versus the same period in 2018.

eurobest 2019 saw global brands using innovation to address key access issues in society. This year’s groundbreaking Mobile Grand Prix winner is StorySign, a free mobile app that translates written words into sign language. From FCB Inferno London for Huawei, the world’s first literacy platform for deaf children saw Huawei brand perception improve by 19.9% over two months.

More meaningful applications of technology came in the form of Signs, the first smart voice assistant solution for people who speak and hear using sign language. Like much of the work that triumphed in 2019, it’s a first step towards making the digital age truly inclusive.

Building New Products

In this year’s Awards, we also saw winners harnessing existing technologies to create powerful new products and offer real-world support.

We saw technology put to work in Huawei’s Facing Emotions, an app that allows people to hear emotions and enables blind and visually impaired people to access non-verbal cues and emotional context in conversation. And from McCann United Kingdom for Alzheimer’s Society, My Carer is an Alexa skill built to help people living with dementia to stay independent at home in the early stages of the disease. With over 1000 users in the first week of its launch, 85% active users and tens of thousands of hours of interaction, My Carer is the most affordable and accessible digital tool for people living with dementia.

Re-imagining Tourism

Winning work brought people new ways to travel around the world.

Brands are beginning to reconsider what travel really means as consumers become increasingly conscious of the way they move around the world. Work that won this year at eurobest found subtle, often beautiful, ways of reframing how we understand tourism. We saw winners innovating to help us explore new places, building new virtual experiences and challenging perceptions about the cultural value of travel.

In Media, Grand Prix winner No Need to Fly – Around the World in Germany from Ogilvy Frankfurt for German Rail encouraged a move away from international flights as a necessity. Targeted ads showed travellers a real-time flight price from their current location to an international destination, in comparison to an instagram look-alike location in Germany. The campaign captured its audience’s attention, with a click through rate 850% higher than the average German Rail campaign and a 24% increase in revenue.

Closed for Maintenance from Mensch Copenhagen made a bold, strategic decision to shift the mindsets of tourists visiting the Faroe Islands. On 20 February 2019, the Faroese Prime Minister announced that the Islands would be ‘closed for maintenance, but open for voluntourists’ on the last weekend of April. Within just four days, 3,500 people had signed up to help locals maintain tourist sites across the Islands - seven times the number of tourists that usually visit the Faroe Islands on the same weekend. This winning piece of work tapped into an important cultural insight: travellers are ready and willing to make an active contribution to preserving the places they visit.

We also saw winners venturing beyond core brand products to create innovative travel experiences. A piece of winning work from McCann London for Microsoft saw Xbox partner with travel publisher, Rough Guides, to create ‘The Rough Guide to XBox’. Breaking all the conventions of games marketing, Visit Xbox: The Birth of Gaming Tourism promoted the incredible virtual locations that users can explore in-game. Traffic to Xbox One X Enhanced increased by 55% and the winners turned the very idea of travel on its head to position Xbox as the ultimate platform for virtual destinations.

Brands are also beginning to innovate when it comes to capturing travellers’ attention and redirecting ordinary travel routes. This important new trend came up in a winning piece of work from Marcel Paris. Gold winner in Direct and Outdoor, Souvenirs De Paris, convinced tourists to venture beyond Paris’ traditional sights to visit a relatively unknown but iconic monument, the Pompidou Centre. The agency partnered with the Pompidou Centre to create thousands of mini statuettes and planted them in tourist spots across the city alongside other ‘real’ statuette souvenirs.

Environmental Accountability

Work awarded at eurobest encouraged consumers to consider their economic and environmental impact on the planet.

Many of this year’s Awards went to work that faced the global climate crisis head on. We saw brands reinforce their commitment to tackling the problem, as well as addressing sustainability issues in their own products and manufacturing processes. Ultimately, this year’s winners moved beyond awareness building and empowered people to stay accountable.

Grand Prix winner in Creative eCommerce and Innovation, Do Black – The Carbon Limit Credit Card, represents unique experience design applied as a radical new tool against climate change. Do Black is the first credit card with a CO2 emission limit, allowing users to track, measure and offset carbon emissions.

One notable 2019 winner is Made in Fukushima from Serviceplan Munich. This year’s Industry Craft Grand Prix represents a valuable piece of work in encouraging sustainable consumption. In 2011, a nuclear disaster contaminated 25,000 hectares of farmland in Japan. Despite a decontamination initiative that made rice grown on the land safe to eat again, the local population had stopped buying Fukushima products. Serviceplan Munich and the Meter Group partnered to create a book made from rice straw harvested on the decontaminated land. The book turned data into understanding and was sent to leaders in the food and environmental sectors, generating conversation and restoring sales of Fukushima rice worldwide.

Elsewhere, we saw I Protect Nature from WWF France, a digital solution designed to encourage visitors to protect natural places around the world by anonymising the locations on social media posts. The damage done by mass tourism became a part of cultural conversation and the media took part in the discussion, educating millions of people on the issue. The result was an additional 1 million signatures added to the petition over three weeks.

Across the Awards, innovation designed to shift consumer behaviour was key. More work prompting people to be part of the solution came in the form of I Amazonia. This winning piece of work saw Greenpeace use an iconic European landmark increased pressure on European leaders to protect the Amazon Rainforest.

Virtue Copenhagen sought to raise awareness of the environmental impact of fast fashion with their Digital Craft Grand Prix winning piece of work, Address the Future. They equipped Norwegian retail brand Carlings’ customers with a 3D virtual dressing room, where they could try on millions of clothes digitally and ‘wear’ on social media. Carlings’ website traffic increased by 56% and this became the cornerstone of the world's first digital clothing collection with 0% negative environmental impact.