I’m convinced it’s a nation-wide British tradition that everyone has their own signs that Christmas is almost here: The first time they hear the smooth synths of Wham’s “Last Christmas,” maybe? The first time “Love, Actually” makes its way onto the Saturday night TV schedules?
In my family when I was a kid, it used to be when trailers for “The X Factor” started showing up — normally back in August! However, since starting at Newsworks, there’s a new fixture that always gets me in the festive spirit: our annual Newsworks Awards.
Every year, we celebrate the very best multi-platform news brand advertising from the last 12 months, whether that’s timely tactical or clever contextual ads, brilliantly effective campaigns or creative with a conscience. We also honour rising agency stars for their brilliant work championing the use of news brands in media plans. Additionally, we give the ultimate kudos to an advertiser of the year consistently using news publishers to execute stand-out campaigns.
In 2023, we saw a particularly strong trend of fantastic purpose-led campaigns that made a real impact for news brands’ readers and advertisers’ customers. Highlights included a crusade that took International Women’s Day all the way to the House of Commons, a nation-wide campaign helping readers take better care of their health, and a fight to save a beloved British institution from the threat of takeaway pizza.
But, as always, we also saw some creative masterpieces that made the most of format, context, and good timing to land impactful campaigns, catching the eyes of both readers and our judges.
Here are some of our big winners from the night.
A big winner at our 2023 Awards, Asda and media agency Spark Foundry consistently landed some brilliant campaigns this year, taking home the top prize in two categories. The pair won best display for Asda’s 2022 Christmas campaign, which saw the supermarket “hire” Will Farrell’s beloved Christmas character Buddy the Elf as “chief quality officer.”
They also won best tactical ad for their sharp and timely placements around government comments on food shortages and the cost-of-living crisis.
If I say “best contextual campaign,” what comes to mind? Enticing holiday ideas in the travel section? Financial advice next to the money column?
Tempting, perhaps, but for financial services provider Aviva, its barrier-breaking campaign needed to bring the brand out of the sometimes-bewildering environment of money management to a spot that was a bit more approachable: next to the crossword puzzles.
With insight showing consumers wanted to take control of their cash but found finance a “puzzle,” Aviva and agency Publicis Media’s award-winning entry placed their campaigns around puzzle sections across news brands. They even sponsored the previous day’s answers in daily title the i.
It’s the dream of every marketer and planner that their purpose-led campaign makes a splash and impacts the people for whom it speaks up. What could be more deserving, then, of the “best social impact campaign” than one that takes its subject right up to the House of Commons and prime minister Rishi Sunak?
With a burst of activity on International Women’s Day, Zenith UK and pension provider Scottish Widows used brilliant tactical and contextual placements to further its long-standing campaign fighting the gender pension gap.
The campaign was so impactful, it was even organically mentioned by an MP in that week’s Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament.
Another double winner (for both “most effective ad” and “best content partnership”), high street healthcare retailer Boots and agency partners EssenceMediacom and The Pharm used news brands to get the nation fitter. The campaign commissioned bespoke research into health disparities across the country, giving readers local insight into their region’s health and encouraging them to book a health check-up.
The supermarket, along with its media agency OMD UK, took our “advertiser of the year” award, meaning there’s a whole plethora of stand-out ads I could share from the past 12 months. However, even though I’ve had to narrow down their selection to just one example, it’s an easy choice for my very sweet tooth.
Demonstrating digital innovation can work hand-in-hand with print creativity, this deceptively simple ad from March used a now-familiar sight on menus and flyers to ask a straightforward question: QRoissant?
Last, but certainly not least, we revealed our “chair’s award” winner for outstanding achievement. This was chosen by the Newsworks Awards chair of judges, Allwyn’s Global Head of Media Ross Sergeant. This year’s award went to Bicycle London for its campaign with traditional vinegar brand Sarson’s, which fought on the beaches and the streets to save a beloved British institution: the fish-and-chip shop.
With pizza displacing a chippy tea as younger generations’ takeaway of choice, the campaign used a cover wrap on National Fish and Chip Day to rally Britons to “respect the chippies that respect our chips.” The fantastically effective wrap featured a to-scale image of a meal on the front, splattered across a newspaper that traditionally would have been used as wrapping for the chippy teas Sarson’s wanted to save.