Awards season starts in earnest – so what’s made our shortlist for 2015?

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Like any agency worth its salt, we’re currently in the throes of awards season. It’s like Christmas at the in-laws (note to parents-in-law: this reference is for artistic purposes only); a time of the year that you dread, but at the same time appreciate the importance that it holds. The importance here is the value we place on the work we do for our clients and the return it provides to their individual businesses.

Anyone who’s ventured into our offices – and more specifically the reception – will notice a raft of awards that adorn our shelves. The jars of retro sweets are quite distracting but, if you can drag yourself away from them for long enough, you’ll notice the various accolades that cover everything from corporate to consumer and healthcare to public sector.

These awards are not the type where you respond to a mass ‘congratulations’ mail-out and pay £700 for the pleasure of a piece of plastic and a logo for your glorified email signature and letterhead – our awards actually mean something. Each is judged on the results produced and the objectives met; each is awarded for the outstanding delivery and standout ROI. You’ll hear it ten thousand times over, but it’s true: ‘long gone are the days when you win an award for just producing a bundle of coverage’.

So, what did we rate this year and why?

First up is e-cigarette brand VIP. Our objectives were to: create a national talking point about vaping and a soon-to-be-launched, first-of-its-kind advert; generate controversy without being irresponsible; ‘stoke the fire’ and then quietly withdraw; get the advert banned! It’s not often that you get such a brief, but with only 10 days to create and implement a hard-hitting strategy, we jumped into action. The results speak for themselves: not only did we reach more than 13 million people, with the fire burning strong long after we’d ‘quietly withdrawn’, but the advert was referred to the ASA and generated more than 200 complaints. It was banned on 24 December – thus achieving our final objective, and generating another burst of coverage.

Next up was Vimto Gardens – a mixed-use development in the heart of the Salford regeneration scheme. This focused very much on launching the development to would-be buyers, supporting sales, as well as hosting an event to remember. The fact that 83 sales appointments took place, resulting in nine on-the-day sales, with all homes sold off-plan by March 2015 – ahead of final completions in June 2015 – demonstrates the pivotal role PR and marketing played in this successful scheme.

Launch was very much the word of the moment in this year’s choices, with Greater Manchester Skills Gateway being added to our shortlist. The first time EU funding has been used to create such a facility, GM Skills is a free service for businesses designed to boost the amount of workplace training amongst the region’s corporate community. Our job was to raise regional awareness of the skills gaps within target sectors, while targeting local decision makers within businesses and promote the benefits of investment in training. By the end of the campaign, 1,200 enquiries had been made from businesses requesting training for their workforce. Most significantly, training opportunities were identified and secured for 1,070 of the region’s businesses over 11 months.

Our final choice for this year’s award entries was long-standing client, Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention. Our campaign was geared around supporting the launch of a piece of research dubbed the ‘Angelina Effect’. The aim was to ensure that Genesis’ share-of-voice was larger than that of other charities, such as Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer – the much larger and more established organisations typically quoted in breast cancer-related articles. You could say we achieved that objective. During the first part of the campaign, Genesis was referenced alongside other national charities in 18 per cent of coverage and was the only charity in 72 per cent of coverage. The Genesis website also received the second highest numbers of daily visitors for 2014, coinciding with the research paper launch and 140+ pieces of coverage.

We will have to wait until November to see if the campaigns above ticked the judges’ boxes. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help your business realise a real return on investment when it comes to integrated marketing communications, let’s chat.