It's hard to be cynical about the best ads. Even if they're pushing a product, they're often promoting something bigger. Consider the two top honorees in the fourth annual Facebook Awards, which are being announced on Monday.
Some people may not consider the "Ice Bucket Challenge" an ad but it was, and then some. What started out as a few people suffering from ALS trying to raise money to fight the disease spawned a phenomenon that drove $220 million in donations to ALS-related charities.
Always' "Like a Girl" campaign was more obviously an ad but carried a message weightier than "buy these tampons." By juxtaposing the derogatory phrase "like a girl" with what young girls interpret it to meant, the Procter & Gamble brand helped countless young women -- and older women and men of any age -- realize that doing something like a girl isn't a bad thing, sometimes it's better.
These two campaigns were exactly the type of work that this year's Facebook Awards judges were looking for. That jury of 18 execs from Facebook and agencies including McCann, Grey and Leo Burnett have awarded the top prize -- the Blue Award -- to both the "Ice Bucket Challenge" and "Like a Girl."
The awards jury was looking for "work that is being created by brands that feels like it's for people. It's not marketing at people; it's marketing for people," said Facebook's chief creative officer Mark
But it wasn't only the two aforementioned campaigns that met that criteria. Out of more than 2,700 submissions of campaigns that have run on Facebook or Instagram, 46 campaigns have been named winners or finalists across six categories that include craft, social technology and Facebook for good.
Check out the top winners in each of the six categories below. To see a full list of winners and finalists, go here.
Integrated Campaign (2 winners)
Category description: Ads that made the best use of running across multiple channels, including Facebook.
Top winner: AdCouncil and R/GA for "Love Has No Labels"
People are prejudiced, even if they aren't aware of it or don't want to admit it. Instead of sweeping prejudice under the proverbial rug, the AdCouncil wanted people to admit to their prejudices in hopes that such transparency might be a disinfectant. The organization and R/GA erected a stage in an outdoor mall in Southern California that would show the x-ray skeletons of two people as they interacted by the screen; after they embraced, the two actual people would pop out from behind the screen to show who they really are: two women, kids, people from different cultures, etc. That video was posted to Facebook, and brands including Coca-Cola and Pepsi joined to support the campaign by removing the brand labels from their Facebook pages and changing their profile picture to the campaign's logo. Within two days the video nabbed more than 40 million views, and First Lady Michelle Obama retweeted the campaign to her followers.
Top winner: Under Armour and Droga5 for "I Will What I Want"
"Girl power" sounds like a cute term, but empowering women is a serious issue. To celebrate powerful women and shake off the brand's macho-man image, Under Armour and Droga5 created videos starring ballerina Misty Copeland and supermodel Gisele Bundchen. The video starring Ms. Bundchen was a teaser that had its comment thread mined for reactions that were included in a TV ad aired two days later. The brand also created a site that pulled in comments about Ms. Bundchen from around the web in real-time. The campaign generated 5 billion media impressions around the world and $35 million in earned media as well as a 28% lift in sales of Under Armour's line for women.
Category description: Ads that made the best use of film, photography or copywriting.
Top winner: Procter & Gamble and Starcom MediaVest Group for "Like a Girl"
Procter & Gamble's Always brand didn't want young women to feel being told they were doing something "like a girl" is a bad thing. So it filmed people doing things like throwing, fighting and running with the caveat that they do it "like a girl." Stereotypes ensued. Then it asked actual young girls to do the same things, and the stereotypes went away. The girls threw, fought and ran like anyone else. The video was posted to YouTube and Facebook, and Always asked female celebrities and other influential women to share their video across their social media accounts. The campaign has been viewed more than 76 million times, and Always measured an 18% lift in people being aware of the brand and a 50% increase in people planning to buy the brand's products. But more importantly 76% of girls between the ages of 16 and 24 years old who watched the video said they felt better about the phrase "like a girl."
Category description: Ads that made the best use of technology.
Top winner: Kia and LA Red for "GT Ride"
To boost awareness of Kia's GT model among young guys, Germany's LA Red created a mobile racing game that lets people design their own track by waving their smartphones in the air. After designing a track, people can send a link to their friends on Facebook to race each other on the custom course. The app was downloaded 280,000 times around the world with more than 30,000 people on Facebook sharing more than 80,000 tracks within the campaign's first few weeks.
Category description: Ads that made the best use of data for creative and targeting.
Top winner: LOT Polish Airlines and DDB&tribal Warszawa for "#KISSaLOT"
LOT Polish Airlines wanted to get in the Christmas spirit by putting people under some mistletoe even if they weren't passengers on its planes. The client and its agency placed a branch of mistletoe in each of the airline's planes and then ran ads targeted to people living in cities over which those planes fly. The ads were set to run the instant a plane was flying over a given city, and people could visit a dedicated site that mapped the routes and locations of LOT Polish Airlines' flights live. The campaign resulted in 300,000 euros worth of free media and made BuzzFeed's list of the "11 Awesome Polish Things That Happened in 2014."
Facebook for Good
Category description: The best ads made for charitable or non-profit means.
Top winner: The ALS Association for "Ice Bucket Challenge"
Last year's "Ice Bucket Challenge" redefined viral. To boost awareness of the neurodegenerative disease and its effects, three people diagnosed with ALS -- Pete Frates, Pat Quinn and Anthony Senerchia -- and their families dumped buckets of ice water over the heads and called out others to do the same or donate money to an ALS charity. That created a worldwide ripple effect spanning 159 countries, 17 million videos created by people including Oprah Winfrey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and 70 billion video views. And while 440 million people watched the videos, enough people donated money to raise $220 million to fight ALS.
Category description: The best ads from emerging markets including Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.
Top winner: KAFA and Leo Burnett Beirut for "KAFA"
Lebanon finally has a law to protect women from domestic violence, thanks in no small part to KAFA and Leo Burnett Beirut. The women's rights organization had been trying to pass such a law since 2010 and had a chance to finally do so in 2014. Three days before Lebanon's parliament was scheduled to vote on the bill, KAFA asked Leo Burnett Beirut to come up with a campaign to pressure the lawmakers. The campaign asked people to post pictures of their thumbs colored in red to symbolize voters' ink-stained thumbs and the blood of battered women. More than 20,000 pictures of red thumbs were posted, an estimated 2 million people saw coverage of the campaign on TV and -- most importantly -- the law passed.
~ ~ ~
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said it was the Facebook Studio Awards. The name has since beenc changed to the Facebook Awards.