Decoding success: How DDB’s ‘Correct the Internet’ earned Effie accolades

DDB Group Aotearoa clinched two gold awards at the 2023 Aotearoa Effie Awards for its impactful work on Team Heroine’s ‘Correct the Internet’ campaign. We spoke with DDB’s Managing Director Nikki McKelvie and Chief Strategy Officer Rupert Price to unveil the campaign’s success factors and standout appeal to judges.

At this year’s Aotearoa Effie Awards, run by the Comms Council, DDB Group Aotearoa was presented with a total of nine awards, including two golds in the categories ‘Most Effective PR/Experiential Campaign’ and ‘Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – Positive Change’ for Team Heroine’s ‘Correct The Internet’.

McDonald’s NZ and DDB Group Aotearoa’s ‘MyMacca’s Rewards’ won silver in both the ‘Customer Experience’ category and the ‘Clever Use of Research/Data’ category, and bronze in the ‘Food Services/Restaurants’ category for ‘McDelivery – Life happening? – We deliver’.

DDB Group Aotearoa also nabbed a bronze in the ‘Sustained Success’ category for AA Insurance’s ‘Live a Little Freer’, in the ‘Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – Positive Change’ category for Triton Hearing’s ‘Give it a Go’, and in the ‘International Marketing’ category for Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) with ‘If You Seek’.

While McKelvie and Price express pride in all their winning entries, the gold-winning work for Team Heroine holds a special place for them for two significant reasons.

“First, the campaign itself tackles a really important societal issue, that being gender bias and gender discrimination. When a campaign like Correct the Internet is successful, not only does it prove the effective power of creativity but it also creates meaningful change in society,” they tell StopPress.

Elaborating on their belief in communication’s ability to ”make the world a better place”, they say Correct the Internet is a prime example of this.

Rupert Price.

“Second, we’re proud of this work because it is a truly integrated, social media-first campaign. It is a truly contemporary campaign that leverages the way media is consumed today. Using primarily PR and Social Media to lead the way, this campaign was a very different shape to more traditional advertising campaigns, that rely heavily on paid media for exposure.”

For the Most Effective PR/Experiential Campaign category, the judges noted that this campaign had made such an impression, they decided to award it in this category despite its entry in others.

“It exemplifies the profound impact PR can have in changing attitudes, particularly when the campaign effectively connects with its audience. The international traction of this campaign further underlined its impressive results, solidifying its global influence and recognition.”

As for the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – Positive Change category, the judges commented that the campaign served “as a powerful exemplar of behaviour change marketing, effectively illuminating societal inequalities and questioning prevailing social norms. Despite confronting a substantial challenge with limited resources, it successfully initiated a positive shift for young females, leaving a lasting impact that extends to future generations”.

Looking back at the work that has come out of DDB this year, McKelvie and Price believe it is a showcase of the breadth and diversity DDB is capable of.

Tourism NZ ‘If you seek’ was a truly integrated global communications platform that delivered outstanding results amongst a specific high value audience,” they say. “The McDonald’s App case study demonstrated how smart use of data can drive significant business outcomes and of course Correct the Internet created global conversation about a global issue.”

 As with all entries to awards, the process of entering offers agencies a chance to reflect on the work when the dust has settled, and evaluate what worked and what could be improved upon.

In this instance, McKelvie and Price say DDB has always had a strong effectiveness culture and has always prioritised this in relationships with its clients but there is always more to learn.

“I think we’re learning more and more how difficult it is to isolate the effect of communications from all other marketing activities,” they say. “Marketing efforts are so integrated these days that we have to take a more holistic view of effectiveness and how we demonstrate delivering value back to the business. Communications now so often work in tandem with pricing, product, distribution and innovation initiatives that we have to look at marketing in a holistic sense, not just an isolated one.”

Nikki McKelvie.

They also believe that in Aotearoa, the Effie awards are judged much more harshly than awards shows in other markets.

“So in many ways, in New Zealand we are leading the way, as the threshold for what it takes to win here really is proof of exceptional work. In New Zealand, we are a genuinely innovative and ingenious creative industry that produces truly fresh and original ideas. As Kiwis, I think we are also brilliant at borrowing and adapting learnings from other markets and applying them here. Every year the standard of Effies gets higher and higher and New Zealand continues to dominate award shows in other regions like APAC Effies, so in comparison to other markets I’d say we are often leading the way.”

Looking ahead, DDB is ready to deliver powerfully effective campaigns for its clients and McKelvie and Price says they are excited by the new opportunities that are becoming available with the development of new technology and new channels.

“As communicators we now have more tools to use than ever before and so building brands in the ever changing communications marketplace never gets old. Alongside this, there is a growing knowledge bank of evidence based principles that help us to be braver but also with more confidence at the same time. It’s an exciting time for brands and marketing.”

They add that as companies continue to face challenging economic times, it is now more important than ever to demonstrate effectiveness.

“The creative industry here in New Zealand is incredible and needs to be supported and invested in to help our economy grow. Therefore continuing to prove the contribution creativity makes to growing business has never been more important. DDB’s founder Bill Bernbach said ‘Creativity is the most powerful force in business’. Here in New Zealand we need to hold onto that belief and continue to invest in building our own brands, businesses and ultimately our economy.”

To read more behind the scenes articles on the standout winners at the 2023 Aotearoa Effies Awards click here.

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