Ad Age Names BtoB Best Award Winners for 2016

From Tractors to Semi-Conductors, a Look at Last Year's Best Work

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From tractors to semi-conductors, social-media companies to business-card printers, this year's Ad Age BtoB Best award winners run the gamut of business-to-business marketing.

This year's class saw the funny -- Intel's "If Cables Were People" from MRM/McCann=as well as at least one sentimental tear-jerker -- Vistaprint's "The Postcard," which was created in-house (see above).

And while a lot of the work was done in traditional media like print, TV and outdoor, b-to-b marketers are no slouches when it comes to non-traditional executions. For paper-manufacture Domtar, Eric Mower & Associates created a branded app that measured students' handwriting progress. And McCann XBC created the "Priceless Elevator Pitch" for Mastercard.

Agencies and clients are even getting creative with direct-mail campaigns, as Spredfast did by sending people hunks of Texas brisket, and out-of-home efforts=check out Avaya's "Earthquakes Experience" from Gyro. Gyro, it should be noted, not only did well in the BtoB Best Awards, but was also named Ad Age's B-to-B Agency of the Year.

One thing that all of the work had in common is that it recognized that on the other end of any b-to-b pitch is a living, breathing person, who needs to engage with the communication and respond to it.

See last year's winners here.

Integrated campaign more than $200,000
Winner: John Deere Construction
Agency: Gyro Chicago
Campaign: "Building Together"
Gyro brings a human element to machinery with its integrated campaign for John Deere Construction. The campaign focuses on the customer by showing how John Deere works with its operators to help build equipment; it provides an emotional connection with the target audience; and it has bold, creative visuals -- illustrating how man and machine are blended into one.
Runner-up: Lockheed Martin
Agency: McCann Erickson New York
Campaign: "Engineering a Better Tomorrow"
This visually stunning campaign, using computer-generated imagery, shows what the future can look like with Lockheed Martin technology, from spacecraft providing routine flights to Mars to fusion generators creating limitless energy. The campaign includes video, print, out-of-home, social and events, including the Paris Air Show. The launch video, which brings futuristic technology to life, received over 2.3 million views.
Honorable Mention: Toshiba
Agency: Gyro San Francisco
Campaign: "Bring Life Forward"
To raise awareness of Toshiba's Smart Community business, which provides technology for transportation, energy, water and environmental solutions, Gyro created an integrated campaign using CGI technology. The colorful, animated ads show a futuristic world, powered by sustainable technology. One ad shows a couple sitting on the finger of a giant robot, overlooking a city powered by Toshiba wind turbines.
Integrated campaign less than $200,000
Winner: Intel
Agency: MRM/McCann Salt Lake City
Campaign: "If Cables Were People"
These hilarious videos show what it would be like if cables were people and demonstrate the frustrations of technology. In one video, a mini display adapter is portayed as a child having a tantrum because she doesn't want to project onto the screen. In another, a negotiator is called in to talk down an HDMI cable who refuses to connect to the TV.
Runner-up: Tecgen
Agency: Partners and Napier
Campaign: "Tecgen Integrated Campaign"
Tecgen launched an integrated campaign at FDIC, the world's largest firefighting trade show, to showcase its new line of protective fire gear. Partners and Napier used non-traditional, creative elements to drive traffic to Tecgen's booth, from large glass display cases with the headline, "In case of emergency, shatter convention," to an ROI tool that showed how much money Tecgen could save fire departments.
Honorable Mention: TE Connectivity
Agency: KBS
Campaign: "Engineering Racing Greatness"
To target design and electronic engineers, TE Connectivity sponsored Andretti Racing for Indy 500 and the Formula E race, and included engineers and journalists on the Andretti Racing team. Through a series of documentary-style videos and other integrated content, including social media and native ads, TE Connectivity showed how its products can provide "racing greatness" for automotive and industrial businesses.
Print campaign more than $200,000
Winner: Accenture Strategy
Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day
Campaign: "High Performance. Delivered"
These attention-grabbing print ads -- featuring black and white images of futurist cars, glowing paddleboards and other striking visuals -- were designed to reach C-suite executives and introduce Accenture Strategy, a new offering that brings together business and technology strategy. The print ads helped increase traffic by over 200% to Accenture Strategy's online content hub.
Runner-up: Emerson Electric Co.
Agency: DDB Chicago
Campaign: "#ILoveSTEM"
To celebrate its 125th anniversary, Emerson turned to DDB Chicago to create a campaign promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers to college students and young professionals. The ads feature Hank Green, creator of YouTube channel "SciShow," and launched with a print ad stating "Sexy=STEM+125," which used math symbols to spell out the word "sexy." Totally geeky? Yes, and that was the point.
Honorable Mention: Renesas Electronics
Agency: RTS Rieger Team
Campaign: "Big Ideas for Every Space"
Renesas Electronics, a semiconductor manufacturer, wanted to communicate the message that even the biggest ideas, such as self-driving cars and smart homes, would not be possible without technology that fits into the smallest of spaces. So RTS Rieger Team created a series of ads featuring miniature characters who pop up in everyday situations, from appearing inside a medicine cabinet to landing on a windshield.
Print campaign less than $200,000
Winner: John Deere Construction
Agency: Gyro Chicago
Campaign: "Building Together"
These arresting ads feature actual John Deere customers to show how the company partners with its machine operators to build every piece of equipment. The photographs are striking and creative, and really drive home the point of collaboration. In one ad, an operator's arms extend outward and become a bulldozer. In another ad, a machine operator's arm morphs into a backhoe.
Runner-up: Caterpillar
Agency: Simantel
Campaign: "Swear By Equipment Management"
To show how Caterpillar's equipment management services can help dealers handle frustrations such as rising fuel costs or idle time, agency Simantel created a series of ads combining clever imagery and "swear words." In one ad, a fuel meter appears to be swearing with the headline "$%#! Swear at your fuel costs. Or swear by equipment management."
Honorable Mention: DCP Midstream
Agency: Gyro Chicago
Campaign: "Listen to Your Body"
Natural gas processor DCP Midstream wanted to encourage healthy choices among its employees, so it launched a campaign to promote its incentive-based wellness program. Gyro created characters made out of felt, representing internal organs such as the colon and spleen (actually kind of cute), as well as foods such as french fries and carrots, in a print campaign called "Listen to Your Body."
Single Print Ad
Winner: John Deere Construction
Agency: Gyro Chicago
Campaign: "Building Together"
Look, it's Superman. No wait, it's the Bionic Man. Actually, it's a John Deere construction worker whose arm has morphed into a piece of heavy-duty machinery. This ad, part of an integrated campaign called "Building Together," is a clever way to show how "every machine in an extension of you."
Runner-up: USG Boral
Agency: Gyro Chicago
Campaign: "Innovation Inspired By You"
USG Boral, a joint venture between USG Corp. and Boral Ltd., wanted to convey that its USG Boral Sheetrock brand plasterboard is an innovative product. The image of a construction worker carrying a huge hippo, with the headline, "Don't let heavy boards weigh down your productivity," hits the mark.
Honorable Mention: Accenture Strategy
Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day
Campaign: "High Performance. Delivered"
The solar car in this print ad is sleek, sophisticated and high-tech. The black-and-white imagery, highlighted by the red accent mark in the Accenture Strategy logo, helps the ad break through the clutter and reach its target audience of C-suite execs, and show how Accenture Strategy delivers high performance.
Direct Campaign (Mail or Email)
Winner: Spredfast Co.
Agency: In-house
Campaign: "Meat and Greet"
Who wouldn't love to get a 5-lb. hunk of Texas BBQ in the mail, complete with a set of BBQ sauces and a bib? That's how Spredfast, a social media software company, got the attention of business decision-makers in its "Meat and Greet" campaign. Recipients could go to a microsite to see Spredfast's software in action (including "Tweet Your Meat").
Runner-up: Intronis
Agency: In-house
Campaign: "Atari Campaign"
Intronis, which provides data protection services, wanted to reach tech buyers at IT service companies, so it sent them Atari game players with the message, "Not all technology is this retro cool," and it may be time to upgrade their data backup and storage. Since its launch, the campaign has generated over 650% ROI and a 35% conversion rate.
Honorable Mention: TD Ameritrade Institutional
Agency: Gyro New York
Campaign: "Service"
To show its audience of investment advisors and brokers that service is in its DNA, TD Ameritrade launched a direct mail campaign featuring its employees. The mailer featured actual employees, with titles such as "sales trailblazer," "relationship builder" and "transition maven," with brief stories of how they help their clients -- a nice human touch.
Winner: Vistaprint
Agency: In-house
Campaign: "The Postcard"
This sentimental video from Vistaprint tells the story about a family-owned bakery. The son moves to the big city, the bakery grows, and one day the son gets a postcard in the mail announcing the bakery's anniversary. When he returns home, his father has a gift for him -- a business card introducing "Barrett & Son Bakery." Rather than focusing on printing services, "We really wanted to build more of an emotional connection with our customers," said Don LeBlanc, CMO at Vistaprint. Get out the Kleenex.
Runner-up: Adobe
Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Campaign: "Mean Streets"
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners uses a film noir approach to portray a dark world in which a CMO has to buy clicks from a dealer in a sketchy alley. "Yo man, I need some clicks," the CMO says. The dealer has plenty to offer, but "Are they pure?" The message is clear: Know who you're buying from, and what your marketing dollars are doing.
Honorable Mention: Symantec
Agency: Godfrey Q
Campaign: "The Backup of Destiny"
This clever video campaign for security software company Symantec combines a 60-second "trailer," a choose-your-own adventure narrative on YouTube, and a social media effort to let IT users engage with the story. In the video, a paranoid techie must make decisions and choose his own destiny. The campaign generated over 29 million impressions in the first few weeks.
Online Campaign (websites, microsites)
Winner: Avaya
Agency: FleishmanHillard
Campaign: "Translating Tech"
To position itself as a 21st century company, Avaya turned to FleishmanHillard to create an online campaign featuring Ava, a technology translator who personifies the brand. The campaign pokes fun at tech jargon (what exactly is a "stack" anyway?) with humorous videos, a "Business Buzzword Blitz" and an extensive social media effort.
Runner-up: IBM Security
Agency: Skyword and Racepoint Global
Campaign: "Security Intelligence"
IBM Security partnered with Racepoint Global and content marketing company Skyword to create an online destination for IT security professionals. The site provides a wealth of information about security issues, including news, analysis, personal stories and webinars. The site has a nice, clean design, is easy to use and features interesting, dynamic content.
Honorable Mention: TenCate Protective Fabrics
Agency: Super Chief
Campaign: "Prepare for the Impossible"
To show how its protective fabrics protect firefighters, first responders and other emergency professionals, TenCate and Super Chief created a website, online videos and social media campaign featuring worst-case scenaries -- think flash floods, airplane crashes and electrical fires. The videos are dramatic and powerful, and TenCate also lets users share their own stories of facing impossible situations.
Out-of-Home Campaign
Winner: Avaya
Agency: Gyro Cincinnati
Campaign: "Earthquakes Experience"
Avaya wanted to reach Silicon Valley tech workers, so Gyro created an interactive game in bus shelters to engage commuters on their way to work. The digital soccer game is tied to the San Jose Earthquakes, which Avaya sponsors, and lets users try to score goals and register for cool prizes, like tickets to a Quakes game and a tour of Avaya Stadium.
Runner-up: John Deere Construction
Agency: Gyro Chicago
Campaign: "Building Together"
The out-of-home element of John Deere's "Building Together" campaign was on full display at ConExpo, the construction industry's largest trade show. From monorails labeled with the "Building Together" tagline to posters and videos playing at its 38,000-square-foot exhibit, all the OOH elements showed how John Deere collaborates with customers to build machines together.
Honorable Mention: McKesson
Agency: Nelson Schmidt
Campaign: "Together for Better Health."
To reach C-suite decision-makers in the healthcare industry, Nelson Schmidt created a high-impact experience at the RSNA (Radiological Society of North America) show for McKesson. The agency created an OOH campaign, featuring images of organs such as the brain and heart, integrated with high-tech graphics, which it placed throughout the show on giant rotating pillars, digital displays and large posters.
Non-traditional Placement
Winner: MasterCard
Agency: McCann XBC
Campaign: "Priceless Elevator Pitch"
MasterCard and McCann XBC partnered to create a unique, fun and rewarding experience for entrepreneurs at shows like SXSW and the Northside Festival. MasterCard built a real elevator for a campaign called "Priceless Elevator Pitch," in which entrepreneurs had 60 seconds to pitch their idea. Winners received up to $15,000 in startup funding from investors, and the pitches were shared on social media.
Runner-up: Cisco
Agency: Frukt Co.
Campaign: "Wall of America"
To showcase its technology in a fun way, Cisco and its agency Frukt formed a partnership with late-night show "Jimmy Kimmel Live," featuring a "Wall of America, Powered by Cisco." The digital wall debuted during the show's Oscars special, with celebrities including Eddie Murphy and Kevin Hart appearing on the screen to talk to Mr. Kimmel and the audience. Viewers could sign up for a chance to appear on the wall.
Honorable Mention: New York Stock Exchange
Agency: DigitasLBi
Campaign: "Wall Street Is Getting Fit"
The New York Stock Exchange used Fitbit's IPO as an opportunity to launch a campaign "Wall Street is getting Fit," designed to reach companies deciding whether to list on the NYSE. The campaign, created by DigitasLBi, included posters, product giveaways, a public fitness class outside the NYSE building hosted by fitness guru Harley Pasternak, and a large social media effort.
Branded App
Winner: Domtar
Agency: Eric Mower and Associates
Campaign: "Paper Because: Project Learning Curve"
To draw attention to the benefits of handwriting, Eric Mower created an app for paper manufacturer Domtar. The app lets teachers measure students' handwriting progress, and classroom goals can be set, such as writing the distance of a soccer field or the length of the Golden Gate Bridge. The app was tested with a third-grade class and turned into a video case study.
Runner-up: United States Postal Service
Agency: MRM/McCann Salt Lake City
Campaign: "Marketing Impact Calculator"
USPS wanted to demonstrate the power of direct mail to marketers, so it worked with MRM/McCann to create a Marketing Impact Calculator in a branded app. Marketers can calculate the costs and benefits associated with adding direct mail to an omni-channel campaign, and also see what kinds of direct mail programs yield the best returns.
No honorable mention
No winners
Social Media Campaign
Winner: GE
Agency: BBDO New York
Campaign: "Invention Donkey"
In this innovative social media campaign, GE and BBDO New York created a donkey character called "Invention Donkey," which took over GE's Twitter account for the day and provided custom video tweets to users, answering questions about inventions. "What we work on is really hard, and we wanted to show it in a new light," said Andy Goldberg, global creative director at GE.
Runner-up: CSX
Agency: MullenLowe Winston-Salem Co.
Campaign: "The Intermodals"
Intermodal shipping is not an easy subject to communicate, but MullenLowe made it fun and interesting for railroad company CSX. The agency created characters called "The Intermodals," including "Mike the Train," "Carl the Truck" and "Bob the Train," which were featured in a series of web videos and social media content to educate users about intermodal shipping.
Honorable Mention: Nissan
Agency: inVNT
Campaign: "Concept 2020 Vision Gran Turismo"
To raise awareness of its Concept 2020 Vision car, which would be featured in the Gran Turismo 6 video game, Nissan tasked its agency inVNT with creating a social media campaign. The agency used Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to orchestrate a month-long series of teasers before the car's physical reveal at the Goodwood Festival of Speed -- grabbing attention for the Batmobile-like vehicle.
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