Steve Barrett on PR: The very best of global practice

The PRWeek Global Awards 2020, unveiled over the past few days, show PR is demonstrating innovation, smart strategy and creativity and proving its effectiveness in every part of the globe.

Pantene's Let Your Hair Down/Suéltate El Pelo spot won Campaign of the Year at the PRWeek Global Awards.
Pantene's Let Your Hair Down/Suéltate El Pelo spot won Campaign of the Year at the PRWeek Global Awards.

We were due to convene in London this week for the seventh iteration of the PRWeek Global Awards.

Unfortunately, like many other things, those plans were scuppered by the global coronavirus pandemic that has brought the world to a standstill over the past two months and will fundamentally change business (everything actually) moving forward.

Instead, we unveiled the 2020 winners in a virtual event run over three days this week, culminating in the big finish yesterday when the Campaign of the Year and Agency of the Year were among the final winners revealed.

You can see each of the three virtual shows on catchup here and the case studies of all the winners here. If you missed them originally, the category shortlists are here.

Clearly I regret the fact we couldn’t celebrate with you all in person and raise a glass to the winners. The Global Awards have grown tremendously in the past seven years and have really come to represent the apex of PR practice from around the world, as well as the best in global collaboration across regions and territories.

But, actually, the virtual environment allows more people to attend in total, at times to suit them. It also allows extra elements to be introduced to the show that wouldn’t work in a live physical environment.

As I said last week, necessity is the mother of invention, and virtual elements to PRWeek events and awards ceremonies will persist after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed and whatever is the new normal unfolds.

In the early years of the Global Awards, there was a tendency for U.S. and U.K. brands, companies and activations to dominate. But that has evolved to be more global each year and the latest crop of winners represents good PR practice from all parts of the world. It also honors the best of all sizes of organization, from small outfits to global brand behemoths.

I was particularly pleased to see a campaign from Latin America walk away with the Campaign of the Year award, in a very strong category with lots of excellent contenders.

Let Your Hair Down/Suéltate El Pelo by MMK+ (Ketchum Brasil) for Procter & Gamble’s Pantene hair-care brand communicated an empowering message, packed an emotional punch and successfully engaged women across 10 Latin American countries.

It mixed influencer marketing in the form of an unbranded song that turned out to be performed by Argentinian pop star Tini Stoessel.

Once it was formally unveiled on her YouTube account, it quickly became her most popular and trending song. Only then did she reveal the Pantene partnership and announced a #PanteneLoversTour.

The buzz was further spread by 27 influencers who became Pantene brand ambassadors across the different territories. It was a truly empowering and engaging activation.

The campaign grew year-over-year Pantene sales in Latin America by 180% and increased market share by more than 115%. It secured a 93% share of voice in Latin America over the four days of the influencer activity and more than 6,000 branded mentions, compared to 2,000 in an average week.

Most importantly, 90% of campaign results were driven solely by earned activities. That was what tipped it over into Campaign of the Year status, along with the integration of many cutting-edge elements of modern consumer PR and communications.

Golin took home Agency of the Year for the second year running, a tribute to the formula it has established centered on PR roots for a modern media and marketing environment. It made conscious efforts to diversify its leadership and instigated eye-catching initiatives in the areas of branding, data and creative planning.

Its momentum has carried through into 2020, with high-profile new-business wins such as Logitech, AARP, Dole foods and an extension of its Ferrara work across the candy company’s Nerds brand. Keynote clients including Nintendo, Walmart and Lego have helped the Interpublic firm navigate the COVID-19 downturn, though like most holding company agencies it hasn’t been immune to layoffs.

All the winners were great, but others that particularly caught my eye included Son Rise: The Film, a partnership between Vibha Bakshi and The Agency by Weber Shandwick India; Salvaging the Reputation of Fashion by Enabling the Industry to 'Feel So Right' by BCW with TenCel for Lenzing; Seizing the Moment to Inform a Nation About Epilepsy for UCB by Ketchum; and The Data Literacy Project for Qlik by Brands2Life.

There are so many noteworthy winners and if you’re looking for some reading to help while away the hours during the long holiday weekend I heartily recommend you take a deep dive into the case study write-ups and show videos.

They truly represent the state of the global PR nation and, at an unprecedented time like this, the need to celebrate working smartly and effectively across borders toward a common aim has never been more important.

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