11 of the best PR campaigns and activations of 2021 (according to you)

Each month PRWeek UK picks its top five recent PR/comms campaigns and asks you, our expert readers, to choose your favourite. Below is a look back at each of the 2021 winners.

January: Future Seascapes campaign, Lloyd's Register by The Romans

The Five Campaigns We Liked in January vote was won – with more than one-third of the total votes – by The Romans' clever campaign for Lloyd's Register.

Artist Reuben Dangoor re-imagined a series of famous oil paintings to bring attention to the zero-carbon shipping industry.

In the Future Seascapes campaign the artist reimagined famous oil paintings by JMW Turner, Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet to depict the carbon-neutral vessels of the future.

February: Tommee Tippee – #TheBoobLife

The Five Campaigns We Liked in February contest was won – with more than half of the total votes – by Manifest for its Tommee Tippee campaign, which aimed to demystify the realities of infant feeding to new and prospective mums.

‘The boob life' included a brand film showing a range of feeding methods, and a digital content series: 'Spill the milk'. The series, which focused on elements of feeding from 'the latch' to 'milk supply' and 'dealing with judgment', was aimed at starting an open dialogue for women.

March: Smart Energy GB – Green on Screen

PRWeek's Five Campaigns We Liked in March contest was won – with more than half of the total votes – by this clever campaign from Tin Man Communications for Smart Energy GB.

Smart meters are an important contribution to a greener future, but there is hesitancy on the part of the public to adopt them.

To tackle this problem, Tin Man devised the ‘Green on Screen’ campaign for its client, Smart Energy, which showcased an academic analysis of 150 hours of television for its underlying environmental content through the more accessible lens of a spoof morning TV show, fronted by Alexander Armstrong.

The campaign and resulting media coverage led to an upsurge in customer enquiries to energy suppliers to request a smart meter, while public consideration to use them increased by nearly one-third.

April: Sports Direct – #FastAndSlow

The Five Campaigns We Liked in April contest was won – with more than half of the overall votes – by a thoughtful campaign from Sports Direct, designed to help Muslims exercise safely during Ramadan.

The retailer commissioned research that found 80 per cent of Muslims have concerns about how to exercise safely while fasting during the Holy Month.

The campaign provided training tips from British Muslim athletes, including Haroon Mota of ‘Muslim Runners’ ASRA Run Club, football freestyler Nafisa Ahmed, Saf – The Hijabi Boxer, personal trainer Shazi Fit, and rugby player Zainab Alema.

May: EA Sports & Kiyan Prince Foundation – Long Live The Prince

PRWeek's Five favourite Campaigns in May was won – with nearly half of the overall votes – by Engine Creative's powerful work for EA Sports/FIFA 21 and the Kiyan Prince Foundation. The campaign also won a clutch of gongs at the PRWeek Awards.

Kiyan Prince, a Queens Park Rangers youth team player who was stabbed to death when he tried to break up a fight at the age of 15, was added to the world's most popular video game – FIFA 21 – as a 30-year-old QPR player, in a powerful campaign that aimed to inspire young people to fulfil their potential and steer clear of gang violence.

Rather than being an anti-knife initiative full of grim imagery, this campaign’s messaging is more about fulfilling life rather than having it taken away.

The campaign was created by Engine Creative on a pro-bono basis. All proceeds raised go directly to the Kiyan Prince Foundation, a charity run by Kiyan’s father, Dr Mark Prince OBE.

June: Heineken - The Hall of Fame

Unfortunately, technical problems meant we could not add a voting mechanism in June, but please enjoy our picks.

This one from our shortlist doesn't technically count as part of the 11, but it's funny and we all need a laugh these days, so here it is. Former England football star and BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand entered Heineken’s ‘Hall of Fame’ in a prank organised by ex-Wales international and TV presenting colleague Robbie Savage and creative comms agency Cow.

July: Hitched, PPE wedding dress

A close-fought contest between PRWeek's Five favourite Campaigns in July was eventually won – with more than two-thirds of the votes – by Hitched, with its PPE wedding dress.

The campaign, by W Communications, was linked to the ending of pandemic restrictions capping the number of guests allowed at weddings. The focus was on a wedding dress made from 1,500 upcycled PPE masks – for the online wedding platform Hitched.

August: Deezer, 'It’s Raining Them'

The Five Campaigns We Like In August contest was won – with more than one-third of the votes – by a catchy bit of wordplay from the music streaming platform Deezer.

It launched a fresh take on It’s Raining Men, working with Talker Tailor Trouble Maker.

The new track, It’s Raining Them, recorded by artist and activist Mila Jam, amassed more than 100,000 views on YouTube.

September: Lloyds Bank, Making a Statement exhibition

The Five Campaigns We Like In September contest was won by Lloyds Bank – winning almost half the votes – and its exhibition visualising bank statements as works of art.

Working in partnership with artist and ethnographer Paula Zuccotti, Lloyds Bank wanted to encourage people to think about their finances and build a better relationship with money.

Wall-sized displays were used to visualise people’s spending, revealing where their money went, as well as some of their less-well-thought-through decisions.

The exhibition in London's Soho, part of the campaign by Grayling, included a space for visitors to create their own art about money.

October: Frankie & Benny's, 'PJs'

The Five Campaigns We Like In October contest was won by Frankie & Benny's 'PJs' campaign, with almost half the votes, backing a stunt offering a free breakfast to anyone who turned up to one of the chain's restaurants in pajamas.

Breakfasts worth up to £10 each were handed out to diners in their pajamas who shared a picture of their exploits on Instagram tagging #PJsAtFrankies and @frankienbennys. The campaign, from agency Cut the Bull, was picked up across more than 50 titles including LADbible, The Sun, Daily Mirror and The Daily Star.

November: Epilepsy Climate Change (EpiCC), #TheEnvironMentalIssue

The Five COP26 Campaigns We Liked contest in November was eventually won by Epilepsy Climate Change (EpiCC), #TheEnvironMentalIssue, with more than half the votes.

EpiCC, a global initiative to reduce contributions to climate change and mitigate its effects on people with epilepsy, created an eight-page, special-edition newspaper manufactured using wind-powered energy. It was printed using ink from algae and paper made with pulp from sustainable forests.

The publication was distributed in Glasgow during COP26 as part of Scotland’s broadsheet newspaper, The Herald. IPG Health shops, McCann Health London and McCann Health New Jersey were behind the campaign.

November: Business Iceland, 'Icelandverse'

The Five Campaigns we liked in November contest was won by Business Iceland's ‘Icelandverse’, with more than half the votes for this spoof of the launch of Facebook's new name.

This campaign received a tonne of plaudits, and rightly so. Its hilarious takedown of the 'Metaverse' video for Facebook's name-change showed a Mark Zuckerberg-type character explaining, in full wooden awkwardness, the joys of visiting the 'Icelandverse': a tangible, real-life place where people can have memorable experiences.

The video went viral and even received a response from the Facebook founder. M&C Saatchi Group was behind the campaign.

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