If an agency wants to win Facebook's own ad awards, it doesn't hurt to use the platform's latest formats and technology. Aside from celebrating innovation, after all, the company is trying to showcase what marketers can achieve on Facebook and its Instagram unit.
The Facebook Awards winners revealed Thursday included campaigns that adopted innovations like vertical videos in Instagram Stories and live 360 video. One winning campaign featured a chatbot built to talk with Brazilian teens about alcoholism on Facebook Messenger. Bacardi USA created a DJ experience using Instagram Stories controls.
"We've seen those creative spaces come alive this past year," said Andrew Keller, global creative director at Facebook Creative Shop. "Advertisers are experimenting with telling stories in different ways."
The awards can be a good predictor of the creative work that will get recognized next week at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Keller said. Facebook times its awards to coincide with the yearly advertising pilgrimage to France, and it's not uncommon to see the same agencies and brands honored in both.
This year, Facebook switched up its awards categories and winner selections. No agency or brand won sole top honors; instead five winners were picked in five categories. The categories were new too, based on emoji reactions: laugh, love, cry, wow and act. Agencies and brands could submit campaigns to any reaction that they considered to suit their work.
Here were the agencies recognized as winners in each category and examples of the work:
This is the category for campaigns that took up a cause or social justice. For instance, J. Walter Thompson's work for Alcoholics Anonymous tackled teen drinking in Brazil, and created a Messenger chatbot to converse with people curious about alcoholism. Another notable campaign was last year's "Hungerithm" by Snickers' agency in Australia, Clemenger BBDO, which measured the general mood through online sentiment analysis, and then lowered the price of the candy the more upset people seemed.
"Anonymous Friend" by J. Walter Thompson for Alcoholics Anonymous
"Careculator" by R/GA for jet.com
"Hungerithm" by Clemenger BBDO for Snickers
"MashiMachine" by Leo Burnett Mexico for 4pelagatos
"The Adventures of Little Brush Big Brush" by R/GA London for Unilever–Signal
"Your Name Saves" by Leo Burnett for Donate Life America
This was, of course, the category for sentimental material, something hardly lacking on Facebook. An example of creative use of a video format Facebook is pushing the new types of video, Amnesty International used Facebook Live to stream refugees meeting people in their new settlement countries, part of its "iWelcome" campaign. "Evan" by BBDO New York for Sandy Hook Promise was a powerful video that spoke about warning signs in school shootings.
"IWelcome-Live" by DDB & Tribal for Amnesty International
"Evan" by BBDO New York for Sandy Hook Promise
"The DNA Journey" by &Co. for Momondo
These were the ads that tugged at the heart strings. Like a spot from Denmark's TV2, "All That We Share," which tries to show people with some surface differences how much they actually have in common. Also, there was a Leo Burnett ad for Samsung Australia that used virtual reality, 360-degree video to promote a beach safety app.
"All That We Share" by &Co. for TV 2 Danmark
"Pocket Patrol" by Leo Burnett for Samsung Australia
"We Are Here" by Airbnb
Standouts in the humor category included Tomcat Rodent Control hosting a Facebook Live show featuring stuffed rats as the puppet-like stars. Another campaign that has been widely praised was "Litbaits," which turned classic literature into clickbait titles.
"Facebook Not Live" by Barton F. Graf for Tomcat Rodent Control
"Litbaits" by Dieste for The Wild Detectives
"Little Caesars Facebook Surprises" by Barton F. Graf for Little Caesars
"Shoes: Impossible" by TBWA Korea for ABC-MART Korea
"Spanish Lessons" by Alma DDB for Netflix
This campaign was meant to honor campaigns that put Facebook formats to innovative, surprising uses. The Sydney Opera House reached out to people who took photos of its iconic building on Instagram and notified them that there was plenty to do inside, too, imploring them to "#comeonin." USA's "Mr. Robot" used Facebook Live to play with the theme of hacking, which is a core part of the show, and then leaked the first episode of the next season on Facebook, with pieces of its showing up on other platforms. The Bacardi ad used the interactive features in Instagram Stories to let people play DJ by swiping between video clips.
"#comeonin" by DDB for Sydney Opera House
"InstantDJ" by BBDO New York for Bacardi
"Made in a Minute" by BBDO New York for Lowe's
"Mr. Robot Season 2 Digital Launch" by ISL for USA Network
"Out of Office Travelogue" by The Monkeys Ltd for Qantas