When the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in April 2010, tourism to Iceland plummeted. Negative stories spread online and the country was left with a projected £180 million shortfall in revenue. The Brooklyn Brothers and the Icelandic government created an idea that used people power rather than traditional broadcast-led travel communications to tempt tourists back to Iceland.
To kick-start the campaign, the agency stopped the entire country for an hour - "Iceland Hour" - and got people to tell their stories to the world. To promote the stories, viral ads, live webcam feeds, Facebook pages and films were created, featuring celebrities including Bjork, Damon Albarn and Stephen Fry. The campaign brought an extra £154.1 million to the Icelandic economy with a ROMI of 62.7:1.
The idea showed how a country of only 318,000 people, with a budget of just £2 million, created a new type of tourism campaign that used people as media to rapidly change the perceptions of tourists globally. It is also one of the only social media effectiveness papers to offer a model of how social media works in a commercial environment.
The "inspired by Iceland" campaign won the Grand Prix at the European Effectiveness Awards this week, and The Brooklyn Brothers was named "Agency of the Year".
The winning submissions from this year's Effies were announced on 14 September at a gala awards evening held at the Albert Hall in Brussels, with Philipp Schindler, the vice-president for Google Europe, as the keynote speaker.
The judging panel, which was chaired by Facebook's director of customer marketing, Alexander Schlaubitz, and included JWT's Tony Quinn, Carat's Simon Pont and Creative Brief's Paul Duncanson, decided that just 14 campaigns from 30 finalists deserved an award. There were four more gold winners, with two silvers and seven bronzes awarded on the night. The other golds were for "the next big Audi" for Audi A1, "market to the max" for Paccar Parts Europe, "I am Nikon" for Nikon and the "slow down, take it easy" social media campaign to combat speeding by young drivers in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
As I am sure the newly formed Cannes Effectiveness Lions have found, any awards scheme that spans global or European countries will have the problem of balancing a high level of rigour while taking into account that many countries do not have the level or quality of data flow that the UK, the US and several Western European countries enjoy. The Euro Effies are no exception and there was healthy debate about certain cases that were a great read, yet lacked the fundamental information to demonstrate a level of effectiveness worthy of a Euro Effie. Where many of the papers fell down was the detail in the proof that the campaign had actually delivered a commercial return or an economic saving to society.
Matt Springate from The Brooklyn Brothers was the lead author of "inspired by Iceland", a social media-led campaign with Facebook at the heart of its communications strategy. Of the other gold winners, the two that really stood out for me were the "the next big Audi" and "I am Nikon" campaigns.
"The next big Audi" was created by Heimat Communications in Germany, last year's "Agency of the Year". The campaign introduced the new Audi A1, the first time a prestige marque had tried to conquer the sub-compact car market. The overall objective was to get a new generation of car-buyers to purchase their first Audi sub-compact car in a recessionary climate, with a 25 per cent price premium compared with the rest of the super-small car market.
The intention was to create a strong desire for the Audi A1 and convert this to 10,000 pre-orders and win over a new generation of drivers with 50 per cent penetration into first-time Audi buyers.
Heimat's solution was to create a campaign that was primarily on-line and pre-launch (a historical first for the brand). Research showed that Audi's target audience thought that premium cars were outside their reach. The insight made Audi change perspective. Instead of seeing the A1 as a downsized version of a real car, it began to see the A1 as a premium offer for ambitious young drivers.
The agency positioned the new Audi against the Mini using Audi's core promise: "Vorsprung durch Technik." At the core of the creative work were six interactive webisodes featuring Justin Timberlake as a nerdy IT professional who is pulled into the Los Angeles underworld. Webisode watchers could go directly to the Audi site for promotional material and nuggets on the next webisode and to configure their own Audi A1.
The campaign ran across 24 European markets. More than 185,000 people registered online to the Audi A1 website, there were more than 40,000 car configurations and, within only three months of the campaign, there had been more than 16,000 pre-orders for the new A1 (62.5 per cent over target). This was an amazing achievement considering the car cost more than EUR17,000. In fact, the manufacturer was forced to increase production capacity by 20 per cent to meet this unexpected demand. Most impressively, the campaign generated more than 90 per cent penetration into the first-time-Audi-buyer market; 90 per cent of pre-orders were from people who had never owned an Audi.
The "I am Nikon" campaign by Jung von Matt in Germany was created to broaden the Nikon brand into mainstream camera-buyers from its traditionally "professional" DSLR user base. Along with Canon, it led the DSLR market but, in the much broader and mainstream compact camera category, Nikon lagged way behind the likes of Canon, Panasonic and Sony, with less than 9 per cent market share. Therefore, the campaign focused on making Nikon a relevant player in the compact segment.
The core strategic thought was to create a brand platform that was not driven by innovation (like most of its competitors) but by an emotional connection to the brand. Pan-European research revealed that Nikon needed to be for everyone who loved images; it needed to be an expression of life.
Rather than celebrating the brand, the agency's approach was to make the customer the hero and to explore what people do when using a Nikon. It wanted people to think: "I could have taken this photo." So it switched Nikon from a brand talking about itself to one talking from its customers' perspective. The brand and communication platform became "I am Nikon, who are you with Nikon?", and post-campaign analysis demonstrated that it had not only met its objectives but overshot them, achieving just over 25 per cent increase in its market share within a year of the campaign.
The Euro Effies are rapidly evolving into a serious commercially focused effectiveness competition, which is very much needed at a European level within our industry. They have the respect of marketing clients and media owners and already have hundreds of case studies that we as an industry can learn from. It will be interesting to see how the industry reacts as even more effectiveness awards schemes are created.
Gurdeep Puri is a founding partner of The Effectiveness Partnership and a judge at this year's Euro Effies.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk