The genius media smarts behind WARC’s Top 10 creative campaigns

Sophie Price
By Sophie Price | 29 March 2022
Sophie Price.

WARC has revealed its top creative campaigns, but while media is integral to a creative idea, the role of media is painfully absent in the recognition, says MediaCom Chief Strategy Officer Sophie Price. She gives a run down of the media smarts that make these campaigns shine.

Seeing great work gain recognition is always satisfying and inspiring. This week, the World Advertising Research Center (WARC) released its Creative 100 rankings - a ranking of the world’s most awarded campaigns and companies for creativity.  David Tiltman, WARC senior vice president of content, claimed that “the campaigns at the top of the list all highlighted untold stories. They give a voice to sections of society that may not have been properly represented in the past.”

As I was absorbing this list, it made me question; if the top, most creative campaigns in the world are about the power of storytelling, then it’s important to also recognise not just the story, but how it’s told. The role of media in this work helps the creative ideas shine.  Media channels (earned, owned, shared and paid) play a fundamental role in how the narrative unfolds, the context in which people understand it, how we immerse the audience in it, and how we bring the audience into the story. In some cases, the medium is the idea itself – like in the case of the Heineken Shutter ads, which used the shutters of bars closed for Covid to share Heineken’s message of support for small bars and communities around the world, at the same time as redirecting ad dollars into the hands of small businesses.

Whilst #WARCmedia100 recognises media craft  (we’re proud that MediaCom has 3 offices in the top 10!), this isn’t about media agencies getting the credit, it’s about appreciating that media is an integral part of the world’s best creative work.

Creativity is in our DNA at MediaCom, and we believe an idea is a living, breathing ecosystem of data inspired connections, to enable the brand to connect in culture. We understand how to help creative ideas live in the world, to connect audiences with innovative media and drive growth for our clients.

So I wanted to stop and take the opportunity to celebrate it and put a different spotlight on this heralded work that shines a light on HOW these ideas have been shaped and live in the world, thanks to smart media and data thinking.




Creative agency

The genius media thinking behind the idea.



Bodyform/Libresse’s #Wombstories,


The amplification of this powerful film is obviously the centrepiece of the connections strategy - but importantly the film was used as a tool (a catalyst) to invite other people to share their womb stories (UGC and Influencer content). Beyond the film, the campaign was extended to include #PainStories during Endometriosis Awareness Month. A literal “Pain Dictionary” was created - bringing visual language to describe the pain.  This was featured in the “Pain Museum”- an immersive, virtual space that was dedicated to the taboos that fuel the silence around pain, and was pushed through social.



True Name, Mastercard




McCann New York

The MasterCard True Name™ card, is a powerful medium in its own right; letting Trans and Non-Binary individuals communicate their chosen name on their cards. This of course attracted gigantic, earned attention and rightly so. MasterCard used this act to invite other financial institutions to follow suit – in turn their owned assets became a mouthpiece (medium) for change. To draw even more attention to their act, MasterCard created Acceptance Street. The intersection of Christopher and Gay Streets in NYC is an iconic corner down the block from the Stonewall Inn for World Pride 2019. They have since created an AR lens that lets people bring Acceptance Street to any street. MasterCard True Name™ and #acceptancematters is also embedded into Pride festivals and marches around the globe.



Donation dollar, Royal Australian




Saatchi and Saatchi Melb

All media for this campaign was earned/donated which is no mean feat.

The donation dollar was launched on International Day of Charity, and then daily reminders were pushed out in paid social, OOH and newspapers. Importantly though, endorsement was sought through charity partners, influencers and celebrities via their owned assets and social platforms- creating huge scale. The coin was also given an awareness spike via the ‘coin-toss’ at the International Cricket Test Series in 2021. Donation boxes in retailers and schools doubled up as awareness driving medium for consumers and students.



Courtside, Michelob Ultra





New York

This was a purpose driven, ‘bottle-out’ idea. Fans scanned Michelob Ultra bottles using their mobiles to win tickets to become part of the virtual crowd at NBA games during Covid. Celebrities (including President Obama) were amongst the virtual crowds attracting huge, earned attention. Virtual fans shared their experiences in their millions on social (amplified by paid social) and the games + their virtual crowds, attracted massive audiences on TV during Covid.



#stillspeakingup, Propuesta Civica




Publicis Riga, Publicis Mexico City

This insanely provocative idea, started with the voice of the murdered journalist Javier Valdez from his own Twitter platform #stillspeakingup.  One by one, the voices of other murdered journalists appeared, talking on Twitter about why they were killed - they were silenced.

Journalist and activists then joined in to scale the conversation in social and on the news. The 349m organic impressions across Twitter directed the audience to an ongoing Twitter platform where journalists could speak up safely, protected by the identity of the dead.



You love me, Beats by Dr Dre



Translation New York

The two-minute film posed a powerful question about how we value Black culture featuring figures in the contemporary, civil rights movement;  Nwigwe, Wallace, tennis player Naomi Osaka, rapper Lil Baby, activist Janaya “Future” Khan, “Queen and Slim” director Melina Matsoukas and “When I Get Home” singer Solange Knowles – all with the power to scale the message though their own social platforms. Celebrities ranging from Diddy to Madonna to Amy Schumer also shared the clip.


The film aired during the NBA Draft, the afternoon NFL Thanksgiving game, and several other NFL games. In digital it ran on Apple Music, YouTube and VOD to reach the masses.



Shutter ads, Heinken






During the Pandemic, Heineken diverted out-of-home spend directly into local bars and placed advertising on their facades, windows and shutters.

Not only did they create a new, powerful medium, it created a new revenue stream for their on-trade partners to alleviate some of their financial strains. 


Stay Home Miles Exchange, Thai Airways



Wunderman Thompson, Bangkok

The genius in this idea from a media POV was using ‘stay at home miles’ (rewards for staying 100m from your house during lockdown) to drive mass acquisition of their app, and to supercharge their 1PD collection during a business lull. This prepared them brilliantly for addressable marketing once flights re-opened! Genius.


Moldy Whopper, Burger King




INGO Stockholm, DAVID Miami, Publicis Bucharest

Ultimately the disgusting beauty of the Moldy burger attracted unparalleled earned attention (8.4b impressions). Paid media’s role though was to ‘showcase’ the moldy burger in all its glory via large scale film, OOH, Print and digital. Each medium demonstrated, day by day, how the mold grew…and grew…and grew….without the horrible preservatives.



The Bread Exam, Spinneys




McCann Paris, Dubai, Frankfurt, Beirut, London.

The Bread Exam film launched on World Cancer Day via three famous influencers from Turkey, UK and Germany – encouraging early breast cancer detection in the Middle East by disguising a self-exam as a dough kneading tutorial. More food influencers then recreated the recipe to scale the idea. Interestingly the recipe was also discoverable on Spinneys flour packaging, printed on bread wrappers and demonstrated in Souks and Spinneys stores.  The campaign was praised by all major media (PR) in the country and by the present of Lebanon himself.



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