Wunderman bags DMA Awards grand prix for BT Sport

BT Sport 2Wunderman Thompson has walked off with the top prize at the DMA Awards, scooping the grand prix for the first time in nearly two decades, with its Unscripted campaign for BT Sport, which also bagged four golds along the way.

The result was revealed during a virtual event last night and followed a final shoot-out pitch between Wunderman’s BT Sport campaign, Klarna’s in-house work, “Heartbeats 4 Sneakers”, and Mullen Lowe Group UK and Mediahub UK’s “We Are Nurses. We Are The NHS” activity for NHS England.

The three campaigns all bagged four golds and had been the standout winners from the main awards, which were also announced virtually over two dates at the tail end of last year.

For the winning campaign, Wunderman Thompson was briefed to challenge BT Sport’s fiercest competitors in the battle for TV subscriptions. At that stage, BT Sport held exclusive rights to the Champions League Live matches, so the agency needed to inspire the football community to talk about nothing other than BT Sport’s new season. There was one catch, however, its budget was 75% less than the previous season.

The resulting campaign was based on a script for the next football season. Written using AI and in collaboration with BT, Wunderman’s team commissioned the biggest brains in sports data, analytics and machine learning to write what it still claims is the first AI-inspired script of any football season anywhere on the planet.

The Unscripted campaign resulted in mass media coverage all over the world, gaining 137 million media impressions across 44 countries, but, crucially, it led to a 100% increase in subscriptions from the previous season, and that was what finally clinched it for the grand prix judging panel.

DMA Awards committee chair Matt Conner, who is also managing director of MRM UK, said:  “BT’s work stood out for its brutal single-mindedness in delivery. Whether they were football fans or not, it didn’t matter – the judges could see the pure power of the insight and the conviction of the delivery shine throughout. Capitalising on indignation to spread the campaign far and wide was genius and focusing on the future allowed its audience to crave to be part of it to take action. This was proven by the incredibly strong commercial returns.

“Undeniably data-fuelled, the clever twist was not just to make data the enemy, but to use it to cause a public outcry. A fabulous piece of work and a very worthy grand prix winner against tough competition.”

It is the first time that Wunderman has landed the top prize since Harrison Troughton Wunderman cleaned up at the 2004 DMAs, carrying off six golds and the grand prix for its work for airline network Star Alliance.

This year, as is tradition, more than 300 senior marketers from agencies, brands and specialists helped to judge the main awards over a ten day period. However, in a break with style, the big debates were carried out virtually, due to Covid-19.

The 2020 shortlist featured one of the widest fields ever, with work from 59 different agencies across the 35 categories, and a total of 159 entries vying for gold, silver or bronze. MRM London led the finalists with 15 entries across numerous categories, followed by Ogilvy UK – which headed up the 2019 shortlist – and Rapp on 12 each.

In the end, MRM, Ogilvy and Rapp ended up with just one gold apiece, with a record-breaking 21 different agencies also scooping gold, including award stalwarts Rapp, Merkle, Engine, M&C Saatchi, and The Marketing Store and “new faces” in the shape of Different Kettle, April Six, Crafted and Essence.

However, apart from the grand prix finalists, only The Lettershop Group, Oliver and Table 21 landed more than one gold, taking home two each.

The full results are available on the DMA Awards website>

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