How to create an award-winning mobile campaign

When it comes to industry awards mobile marketers are spoilt for choice: MMA Global Awards, Cannes Lions, Webbies, Meffys, GSMA, EMMAs, Smaato (see the mobiThinking guide to mobile industry awards for full details on each). So we asked the experts for their opinions on the DNA of successful and award-winning campaigns.

So why should you want to win an award?

  • For the brand – it’s great publicity for your mobile service. Highlight your innovation to consumers. Share your success with your peers – remember if no one shared best-practice campaigns, no one would learn.
  • For agencies – there’s no better way to advertise your exceptional services.
  • For both – if the judges love it, so will the consumers. How else would validate that you are doing your best with your mobile strategy?
  • 12 steps to creating an award winning campaign

    1. Be different
    Do your homework. Study the campaigns that win (or nearly win) accolades – and customers – many have excellent and inspiring case studies.
    David Murphy Mobile Marketing Magazine: What makes a campaign award-worthy stand out is when it does something genuinely different. It doesn’t need to involve bleeding-edge technology – it just needs to engage with the consumer in a new or different way. Reebok’s You Got Rondo’d campaign by Inside Mobile is a great example.

    2. Don’t be too sexy
    Technology for technology’s sake – or even mobile for mobile’s sake – doesn’t impress anyone. The judges have seen it all before, and often consumers don’t get it.
    James Briggs, managing director, Briabe Media: Avoid sexy for the sake of sexy. When it comes to new media channels, many marketers fixate on being the first to come up with the most innovative way to use a new technology. Instead they should focus using new technology to solve an existing marketing problem or to meet a campaign’s business objectives. The danger is that you leapfrog proven approaches in favor of solutions that will often fail to meet the desired objectives of the campaign.

    3. Keep it simple
    Can a consumer – or a judge – reference your campaign in a single word, phrase or sentence, so people will know what they are talking about? Then you’ve got a winner.
    Ben Scott-Robinson, We Love Mobile : I find simplicity of concept very appealing. Above-the-line agencies tend to describe campaigns with one word – this is great practice for a creative team. If you can’t get the message in a single word or phrase, think again. If the word makes the hair on your arms stand up, you’ve got an award winner. Consider Cadbury’s Gorilla or Guinness’ Surfers – they’re instantly recognizable. On mobile specifically, good examples are Snickers’ Get Some Nuts or Fanta’s Stealth Sound System (an MMA Global Award winner):

    4. Plan for mobile from the start
    Mobile is fantastic, but it should be treated like any other media channel. Judges want to see evidence that mobile was an integral part of the campaign from day one.
    Michael Ahearn VP Marketing of iLoop Mobile: From the very start, mobile needs to be part of the marketing strategy and tactics planning and a line item in the marketing campaign budget. Mobile should be integrated into the overall marketing campaign with the planning for any other media channels (TV, print, Web, out-of-home etc.) Do not bolt it on at the last minute, when all the other media/marketing is set and ready to go – that’s a recipe for failure.
    Plan your mobile campaign as you would any other media. Define the objectives first – customer acquisition, loyalty, brand awareness, content delivery etc. Then pick the mobile component – SMS, mobile site etc – that will achieve those objectives best.

    5. Don’t exclude customers
    With mobile, like all other media, it is important to aim for maximum reach. Way up the merits of focusing on a niche market – a technology that work on a handful of handsets or freebie that only appeals to a small segment – against mass market, where ‘boring old’ text is still king and all the options in between.
    If this was TV, the judges would consider why your TV ad only works on one brand of TV. If this was Web, the judges would consider why you are only targeting the customers of one ISP. And remember, competition judges will be looking closely at the numbers.
    Harry Dewhirst, COO RingRing Media: The best ideas are well thought through and have a big impact in terms of scale. I pay most attention to campaigns that have touched 100,000+ people.
    Ben Scott-Robinson:
    A lot of campaigns are very elegant, but they only work for a limited part of the desired customer base. So they cannot be described as effective campaigns. Often these are far too industry focused and mobile-centric, rather than consumer or even brand-centric. Excluding people because they haven’t got the right handset is an instant negative brand engagement. It doesn’t take much to produce something that has some form of engagement for the whole target audience, even if it is very simple.

    6. Make it relevant
    Creating awareness and engaging target customers is critical for mobile campaigns.
    James Briggs: Targeting and relevancy of message are essential requirements. Like all other media, different consumer groups consume/use the mobile medium in different ways. But due to the extremely personal nature of mobile phones and the fact that the channel must be completely opt-in, knowing the mobile behavior of your target audience is doubly crucial for a successful mobile campaign.
    Remember: consumers can’t respond if they don’t get your call to action. You may need to use channels other than mobile to notify consumers about your mobile campaign.
    The Continental Airline’s recent Volver Por Un Rato campaign adheres to all of my requirements for a successfully executed campaign. It targeted US Hispanic consumers to promote new Latin American routes. Consumers send in a video explaining what they missed most about home, for the chance to win free flights. In a very powerful integrated media strategy, many mobile marketing tools – SMS, mobile Web site, IVR and video – were used in addition to TV, radio etc.
    According to Mobile Marketer the number of visitors to the WAP site was nine times the visitors to the PC Web site, despite similar efforts to promote each. Mobile adverts ran on Quattro Wireless. See guide to mobile ad networks for more info on Quattro.

    7. Get engaged
    Mobile is a two-way medium. Great campaigns will be as much about the consumer requesting information or answering a call to action, as much as the brand pushing information towards the consumer. At the very best, this builds a sustained interaction.
    Kirsten McMullen, director of marketing, 4INFO: I am most impressed by campaigns that create interactivity and engagement between the consumer and the brand. While it is relatively simple to display content on someone’s phone, via a mobile Web page, banner ad or a text message, the really impressive campaigns go beyond just “showing” stuff to the consumer.
    Best Buy has really led the way in mobile engagement, with its product-information-on-demand service. Customers can text the SKU number for any product to receive back more information on the product as well as a link to the product on the mobile site [see]. This creates real value for the end user – they can read on-line reviews of products etc while standing in the aisle at the store, or when they come across a magazine ad. It’s ongoing engagement, not simply a one-time coupon or sweepstakes entry.
    Another good retail example is Lane Bryant, which sends consumers bi-monthly text messages with sale information and coupons redeemable at the point of sale. The mobile campaign is promoted via in-store display and media advertising. Many retailers struggle with implementing mobile coupons, so it’s refreshing to see such a clean campaign with impressive results.

    8. Maintain brand value
    Avoid a campaign that displaces the brand’s values.
    Ben Scott-Robinson: Some campaigns have nothing to do with their brand. Clever ad campaigns always link back to the brand, and its values. Think of brands like Cadbury’s, VW and Guinness. They maintain their place in people’s hearts because the adverts just keep reinforcing the values of the brand, even if they take those values to ludicrous extremes. If the campaign experience has too tenuous a link to the brand values, it leads to irrelevance which could do long-term damage to the brand.
    So for example, if you are doing a mobile campaign for Cadbury’s, it’s good practice to use the Gorilla, hence The Hyperfactory’s Be the Gorilla (an MMA Global Award winnner).

    9. Make the most of mobile
    Mobile offers an abundance of opportunities to marketers – many of them are unique to mobile. It also comes with plenty of challenges, such as the price of data, privacy, slow downloads, small screens and handset incompatibility. Judges will consider how campaigns balance the pros and cons of mobile.
    Diane Strahan VP, mobile marketing, Neustar: If campaigns use the mobile Internet, they need to have mobile Web sites that are optimized for the mobile device; otherwise, stick to compelling text-based campaigns
    Joerg Krahnert, managing director, Netbiscuits: It is essential to understand that the mobile Web is not the same as the PC Web. Take advantage of opportunities only mobile offers, such as location based services and SMS campaigns. Offer exclusive content on your mobile – this way you will not cannibalize the readership of your PC Web site.
    A great mobile site is it’s perfect for watching while waiting!

    10. Evidence of success and return on investment
    All judges look for evidence that the campaign had realistic objectives that were achieved or exceeded.
    Kirsten McMullen: The best campaigns are those that offer interactivity along with something of real value, with documented results showing that real people were impacted by the campaign.
    Diane Strahan: Top campaigns need to have measureable ROI.
    David Murphy: I always look at is evidence of success. No point coming up with a really clever idea if no one engages with it.
    Joerg Krahnert: Create a realistic business case and/or clients expectations – while ROI is high, absolute reach is still not where we mobile marketers want it to be.

    11. Presentation
    A big part of winning accolades is how your case study is presented. If you want to win customers as well as awards, these should also be available for public consumption (it’s amazing how many agencies have little to share publicly). There are some great examples of engaging case studies among the winners of the MMA Global Awards.

    12. Enter all awards
    For the low down on mobile awards, see: The mobiThinking guide to mobile industry awards, including Cannes Lions, MMA Global Awards, The Meffy Awards, EMMAs, Smaato.

    What’s your tip for an award-winning campaign? Are there other mobile awards, we should know about? Comment below or email editor (at)

    Don’t miss:

  • mobiThinking guide to mobile industry awards
  • mobiThinking guide to mobile agencies
  • Global mobile stats: all latest quality research on mobile Web and marketing in one place
  • Mobile money will make the world go round
  • mobiThinking guide to mobile ad networks (2010)
  • The insiders’ guides to mobile Web marketing:
    Japan, Canada, USA, Germany, UK, India, Australia, Spain, South Africa, Brazil
  • Conferences & awards for mobile marketers, with offers
  • mobiThinking’s page of essential links
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