When the press celebrates digital

Last month, journalists from around the world gathered virtually for The Epica Awards – the only creative competition judged by the press. Here are the top digital winners.

par Mark Tungate , Adforum

The press has been through a painful digital transformation, but these days even journalists who started their careers in the print era (this writer included) are au fait with the online world. They now regard social media as tools rather than competitors.

So it was with a certain amount of digital savvy that The Epica Awards jury – all of them journalists – met online to discuss and vote on the year’s best digital campaigns. The six top entries brought a combination of emotion and usefulness to the table. Or perhaps we should say, to the tablet.

The Digital Grand Prix went to one of last year’s most spectacular social campaigns: “Swipe Night” for Tinder by 72andSunny. With the dating app now over-familiar to users, the agency re-ignited the passion by turning it into a spectacular interactive mini-series. Players had to navigate a chaotic city, swiping to make crucial decisions that would impact their story. At the end, they were “matched” with users who’d made similar choices. A smart way to transform a platform while remaining true to the soul of the brand.

Classical music is a pleasure that should be available to everyone – but it’s often lofty and inaccessible. Such was the case in Romania, where a classical music concert named after the country’s beloved composer George Enescu was hugely expensive yet rapidly sold out. Coincidentally, Enescu’s image is on the 5 lei note (worth a just over one US dollar). Thanks to Leo Burnett Bucharest and a Samsung app, classical music fans could scan the composer’s image on the note and gain virtual front row seats to a live stream of the concert. A terrific example of the democratising power of technology.

Campaigns that erase the borders between the digital and physical worlds are often popular with awards show jurors. And this is one of the best examples we’ve seen recently. To keep it brief – so you can watch the wonderful campaign film – the New Orleans tourist board and the agency 360i created the ultimate Spotify playlist for the capital of jazz. And then it brought the list to life with an incredible concert at Preservation Hall, featuring an unbeatable line-up of jazz stars and legends.

Technology can help you save money – but can also encourage you spend it. The instant gratification of online shopping, especially now Instagram images are “shoppable”, is a speedy route to debts. That was certainly the case in Slovakia, where research showed that its citizens’ total debts had overtaken their savings. VUB Bank and its agency Triad decided to put a break on the problem by attacking online shopping on its home turf. Thanks to a simple browser plugin, a message appeared next to the “Add To Cart” button in leading e-shops. It read: “Rather Save”. Users could then click to transfer the money directly to their savings account instead. Banks have often been cast as the bad guy, but this is a great case of a finance brand making a positive difference to customers’ lives.

When agencies started talking about the growing influence of data on creative solutions, some adland journalists raised their eyebrows. But they hadn’t yet seen campaigns like “Printed By Parkinson’s”, from Innocean Berlin. For a  charity, the agency asked Parkinson’s sufferers to name their most treasured possessions. Then it 3D printed the objects after adding data about each patient’s characteristic tremor. The resulting objects, gnarled and twisted by the data, became powerful symbols of the impact of Parkinson’s.

We started with a Grand Prix – so let’s finish with one. The Responsibility Grand Prix, for cause-related campaigns, went to “Through Your Eyes” from Wunderman Thompson Buenos Aires (the first Latin American Epica grand prix, by the way). The aim of the campaign was to encourage cornea donations: more than 3,000 people in Argentina need a corneal transplant, but donations are rare. Teaming up with a popular musician, the agency created a music video that appears blurred unless you point your phone’s camera at another person’s eyes. Clever, emotive and apparently effective.


So there you have it: a selection of digital campaigns that even the most print-obsessed journalist couldn’t fail to appreciate.