AToMiC 2019: Fan-powered frenzy

BBDO's Grand Prix-winning "Paralympic Network" was one of several campaigns that tapped into passions to mobilize movements.

You are reading a deep dive into the insight and ideas that propelled the winners of the 2019 AToMiC Awards to success. For the full list of winners, visit the AToMiC website, and be sure to check back for more deep dives into this year’s award-winning work.

This article appears in the March/April 2019 issue of strategy.

The Wins: Canadian Paralympic Committee’s “The Paralympic Network” by BBDO Toronto
Grand Prix; Gold Engagement; Gold Social; Gold Best Broadcast Engagement; Silver Idea; Silver ROI; Silver Digital Engagement; Bronze Niche Targeting; Bronze Tech Breakthrough

Never underestimate the power of many.

Ambassadors, supporters and fans formed the backbone of several AToMiC-winning campaigns carrying a single mission: to call the world’s attention to a just and noble cause.

The Grand Prix winner, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, placed world-class athletes on a mass pedestal with the help of a few thousand friends.

Paralympians are lionhearts. In the process of becoming the best of the best in their respective sport, they must overcome physical and societal adversity. Yet, their heroic achievements are often overlooked.

An unfortunate fact: only 10% of the Paralympic Games are broadcast by TV networks. So even if a person wanted to support these athletes, it wouldn’t be easy, considering the games weren’t available to watch. That’s where “The Paralympic Network” comes in.

What’s interesting about Paralympic fans is that they’re not run-of-the-mill passive supporters, they’re passionate fanatics. This observation by the organization and BBDO led to a unique campaign and channel strategy, where the team converted fans into mini broadcasters to amp up coverage of the games.

It created the “Become a Broadcaster” tool on Facebook and Twitter. Anyone using the platform could select which games they wanted to watch/broadcast to their personal networks – all in advance of the actual event. The game was then automatically live-streamed to the fan’s friends and family at the first whistle blown.

Setting up timers for content to be live-streamed was a unique idea. The commission gave people a new way to watch the underrated Games, succeeding in its mission by getting Canadians to broadcast over 22,000 events. That’s more than 990,000 video views (or 15,843 hours), which equated to an astounding 11,464% increase in viewership compared to the previous Winter Games.


gunsThe Wins: States United to Prevent Gun Violence “Backfire” by Rethink
Gold ROI; Gold Global; Bronze Digital Engagement

Clickvitism (supporting a cause through the click of a mouse) was also a part of the States United to Prevent Gun Violence’s strategy.

While the organization’s “Backfire” campaign used similar social broadcasting techniques to raise mass awareness, it was initially meant to pique the interest of one person: U.S. President Donald Trump.

Here’s another unfortunate fact: every 16 minutes in America, someone is shot and killed. Yet, President Trump continues to fight against gun laws. “Backfire” was created to help bring him to his senses with gun regulations, and required mass supporters for it to cause effect.

Working with Rethink, the organization collected real-time gun violence data from over 2,500 media, law enforcement, and government sources. That data was then translated into auto-tweets from Americans – including actor George Takei and Parkland survivor Lex Michael – all directed at the President’s Twitter account. Advocates can tweet daily or weekly, and the crowdsourced campaign is still driving sign-ups, spreading the reality of gun violence to Trump and the entire Twittersphere with 93,000-plus tweets and 17 million impressions, on average, per day.

No apologies

anythingbutsorryThe Wins: Canadian Down Syndrome Society’s “Anything But Sorry” by FCB Canada
Silver Shift; Silver Engagement; Bronze Social; Bronze Digital Engagement

Mobilizing people online to bring awareness (and change) to erroneous public opinion was the M.O. behind the “Anything But Sorry” campaign, created by FCB for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society.
Last year alone, 9,363 babies were born with Down syndrome, but many of those births were not celebrated. Because when a baby with Down syndrome is born, the first words parents often hear are “I’m sorry.”

Avoiding clichés about empowering people with disabilities, the organization used humour to trigger a shift in thinking. It first created “The S-Word” video, which debunked Down syndrome stereotypes. Then, docu-stories of Down syndrome families were produced, alongside “S-Warnings” that ran before the top 30 YouTube videos containing the word “Sorry.”

All of the content led to a digital hub (the crux of the campaign’s latest iteration), where people could become ambassadors to spread the word. Via the website, people were invited to share colourful welcome cards that were “Anything But Sorry.”
More than 64,000 e-cards, videos and news stories were shared, bringing in 330% more donations to the CDSS in the end.


Sweden2The Wins: Montréal Little Italy’s “Anyone but Sweden” by Rethink
Silver ROI; Bronze Engagement; Bronze Transmedia

Moving offline, the “Anyone But Sweden” campaign, also led by Rethink, for Montreal’s Little Italy neighbourhood, kept the fan movement going.

Faced with the news that the Italian soccer team failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup (the first time in 60 years), Little Italy needed an idea that would draw crowds to its cafés, bars and restaurants, or risk a massive hit to the local business community.
Sweden1Fans’ beloved Italian team had lost to Sweden, so naturally Little Italy put a hit on the nation. It created a side event around the main sporting event (despite the team’s absence), calling on Montrealers to watch and support every team but Sweden.

It’s small budget went far, with the neighbourhood creating online content, print ads and promotional material that rallied fans to play favouritism – and generated millions of impressions that boosted local business sales.