PHD has triumphed with three winning campaigns in AdWeek’s 2018 Media Plan of the Year, becoming the only agency to make the list three times in this year’s issue. The special edition celebrates the year’s 23 best media plans which sparked conversation with next-level innovation and creativity.

The PHD US team won the Campaign (US$10+ million), Best Use of Branded Content ($US2 million) and Best Use of AI/Machine Learning categories for their stand-out work with Google, Old Navy and Google Cloud.

PHD – Google, ‘Celebrity Voice’
Category: Campaign (US$10+ million)

Going into the 2017 holiday season, Google and PHD knew that 60 percent of U.S. consumers didn’t yet see the need for a smart home device like Google Home to assist with personal searches, questions and playlist requests, and help with things around the house.

So the tech giant and its agency decided to highlight the features and utility of the device and voice assistance in general to audiences by weaving the voice assistant directly into key entertainment events from Halloween to Christmas. The two-month marketing blitz keyed on some unique media and celebrity-driven integrations tied to the tried-and-true scaled reach of network TV.

High-profile product placements in TV shows like NBC’s Will & Grace, The Ellen Show and ABC’s Modern Family saw celebrities like Eric McCormack, Sofía Vergara, Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler addressing the device during episodes and around events like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting.

“We had so many of our favorite TV personalities and characters saying ‘Hey Google’ and using the Google Home in a wide array of situations,” says Nick Vernola, Global Media Strategy Director at PHD. They “showed just how amazing, magical and useful Google Home can be.”

And overall, they helped Google sell more than 7 million of its Home devices, increasing its market share from 23 percent to 31 percent.
—Gabriel Beltrone

PHD – Old Navy, ‘Learning Through Song’
Category: Best Use of Branded Content (US$2 million)

Last fall, Old Navy needed a big back-to-school campaign that would break the category mold of relying on YouTubers and social influencers to move new jeans and backpackers but still capture the imaginations of moms and kids—despite their constantly changing shopping and media habits during that crucial time on the retail calendar.

To that end, agency PHD teamed up with Pharrell Williams’ iamOther collective to pair eight educators from around the country with songwriters to create original music videos about learning—inspired by Chicago educator Dwayne Reed’s 2016 viral hit “Welcome to the 4th Grade.”

Promoted through online channels like Upworthy, Vevo and mobile channels like video-sharing app Musical.ly (now TikTok), it also included an integration with Jimmy Kimmel Live that brought one teacher, Cedric Gardner, and his students to the broadcast.

The results? Old Navy’s third-quarter sales rose 4 percent year over year, bucking the category’s downward trend, while its ONward! program for underprivileged children was able to donate $1 million (including corporate matching) to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Plus, says Jennifer Park, Head of Communications Planning at PHD, “there was so much love and excitement for the teachers that were featured in the campaign from their local communities, giving them the rock star status they deserve.” —G.B.

PHD – Google Cloud, ‘Basketball Data Diaries’
Category: Best Use of AI/Machine Learning

During 2018 March Madness, Google didn’t want to just be another tech sponsor for a big national sporting event. So it showed millions of college basketball fans—including business leaders glued to the action—how its Google Cloud services could bring the NCAA’s decades of historical data to life with ads featuring real-time predictions about the games they were watching.

In a war room outside the Final Four arena, PHD and agency partners Essence, Eleven, Gentleman Scholar and Cloneless relied on a pre-made creative toolkit capable of creating more than 100,000 unique spots. They fed first-half stats into Google Cloud-based software, crunched the numbers and, in less than 10 minutes apiece, assembled and delivered TV ads ready to air at the beginning of the second half.

Each of six predictions featured info like the current score and precise estimates—like the number of rebounds, three-pointers or assists from both teams. “It was contextual to the moment, it was relevant to the range of our IT audience and it told a simple data story for complex cloud technology,” explains Graham Bahler, Strategy Director at PHD.

Moreover, the data-based activation netted a 91 percent lift in product interest for Google Cloud, a 42 percent increase in brand search volume and 30 percent more new site visits—with a 19 percent increase in time on site. —G.B.

Read the full article on AdWeek.