Adweek reveals this year’s winners of the annual “Media Plan of the Year” awards.

The media business may be changing on a nearly weekly basis, but one constant that will always matter as long as advertising survives is the Big Idea. This year’s group of winning plans embodies the best of those ideas, and execute across the gamut of media options available to marketers and their media agencies. Some of those ideas even shun the notion of a “campaign,” but all place their client in the best position to succeed. The results spelled out in the following stories offer proof that media still works. And Adweek will always be here to celebrate and honor such stellar work.  

PHD India | Active Wheel, “Lo Kar Lo Baat”
Category: Mobile ($2 million +)

More and more, men living in India—more than 4.2 million, to be exact—are moving away from their families in search of full-time work. The easiest way to stay in touch is through cellphones, but the cost for a few calls a week stacks up quickly. That means many families have an important choice to make—either spend more money on long-distance calls or stop communicating with loved ones and instead purchase essential household goods including cleaning products.

Working with laundry detergent brand Active Wheel, PHD India in Mumbai came up with a mobile service called Lo Kar Lo Baat, which translates to “let’s talk,” to help cut down on phone costs. The idea behind the service was to provide couples with three free minutes of talk time, but PHD needed to find the best way to reach these men and women without any traditional media options to rely on.

For that reason, the brand placed the number and information about the service on the product packaging. “The fact that our consumers were based in geographies with little or no access to traditional media, apart from mobile phones, meant that the best medium to communicate our message was the product pack itself,” says Shavon Barua, managing partner at PHD India.

Even though the product appeared on shelves on 10 million packs in key markets in July of last year, the number provided on the packaging is still being called some 200,000 times per day and to date has connected more than 8 million couples in the country.

PHD’s work also increased sales volume by 14.5 percent and top-of-mind awareness by 145 percent. —Katie Richards


PHD U.K. | Sainsbury’s, “Sharing the Gift of Reading at Christmas”
Category:International ($5 million +)

Britain’s supermarkets weren’t expecting a Merry Christmas in 2015. Leading analysts predicted sales would be down for the four largest chains. One of them, Sainsbury’s, sought to not only defy that prediction but also help solve one of the country’s biggest social problems, childhood illiteracy, with the “Sharing the Gift of Reading at Christmas” campaign.

The chain collaborated with the celebrated children’s author Judith Kerr, who wrote a new storybook, Mog’s Christmas Calamity, that was at the heart of the effort.
The biggest challenge involved timing. Sainsbury’s doesn’t allow any Christmas activities to take place until after Armistice Day on Nov. 11. “Typically, our competitors launch their campaigns before,” says Anna Hancock, managing partner of PHD U.K. “That means on Nov. 12 we have to make an incredible impact.”

“The idea to launch simultaneously at 7:15 p.m. across TV, digital and in-store leapt out quite quickly,” adds Ruth Cranston, Sainsbury’s senior marketing properties manager.

Sainsbury’s roadblocked a three-and-a-half minute ad across 83 TV channels at that appointed minute on Nov. 12. At the same time, it unveiled the book in Sainsbury’s stores as well as a paid social media campaign. As a follow-up, Sainsbury’s recorded videos of parents reading the book, some of which were used in another TV ad.

“At first we were told, ‘It isn’t possible,'” says Chris Magniac, PHD U.K.’s media director. “Some channels don’t have a three-and-a-half minute break.” Channel 4 didn’t even have a commercial pod at 7:15.

And yet, the payoff was huge: 84 percent of all TV viewers in the U.K. saw the ad during that first ad break. YouTube views climbed to 30 million. It became the country’s most watched Christmas TV campaign of all time.

Profits from the Mog books reached £1.6 million, all going to Save the Children’s literacy efforts in the U.K. What’s more, Sainsbury’s was the only large supermarket chain in the country to raise market share during the holiday season. It increased purchase consideration by 4 percent, making a very merry ending to Sainsbury’s own campaign story.

You can read the article in full and view the full winning list online now. Link.