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Digital Innovation Network of the Year EMEA 2020: We Are Social

A year of standout creativity, growth and expansion for the agency.

Digital Innovation Network of the Year EMEA 2020: We Are Social

We Are Social’s 2019 was characterised by standout creativity, growth and expansion.

The judges were impressed by its compelling performance in terms of new-business wins, delivery of exceptional work for clients and the way that creative, social and more general digital solutions were brought together in its output. They also praised We Are Social’s commitment to diversifying services into new, but related, areas.

The network originated innovative work for brands around the region, disrupting Fortnite for WWF France and helping Netflix stand up for the LGBT+ community. It also called out cyberbullying for Ikea, created a virtual fashion store for Lego Wear (pictured, top) and celebrated women in sport for Keller.

New-business performance was outstanding. We Are Social’s wins included: Virgin Atlantic, Mastercard, Guinness, Amazon Prime and Burberry in the UK; EDF, YouTube and Zalando in France; Mercedes-Benz trucks, Keller Sports and Dr Hauschka in Germany; Netflix and Banco Santander in Spain; and Hyundai, Procter & Gamble, Paul Bakeries and Spotify in the United Arab Emirates.

The network’s well-respected management team, led by Nathan McDonald and Robin Grant, the co-founders and chief executives of We Are Social’s global network, was ably supported by strong local leadership in London, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Berlin, Munich and Dubai. 

Looking at growth, We Are Social extended its network by acquiring Socialize in Dubai, the Middle East’s largest independent social-media agency, and opening an agency in Madrid. It was also admirable that the network continued to diversify its offering with dedicated units covering sports, influencers and production.

The new sports marketing division, We Are Social Sport, offers a social-first approach to tackling the changing relationship between sport and social. Campaigns created in 2019 included Mastercard’s Rugby World Cup Activation, the Guinness Coffee Rugby World Cup and the Tango Squad FC final season in the UK. It also won the sponsorship of Peak Performance at the Freeride World Tour in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

We Are Social Studios specialises in creating content for social platforms, helping brands to produce social content at scale and to be more agile. We Are Social Influence has social listening at its heart, allowing advertisers to reach the core of communities and truly understand them. Lastly, We Are Social Innovation comprises designers and engineers who have the objective of developing innovative experiences, devices or services driven by new technologies for clients.

The network’s investment in research and thought leadership also stood out, in the form of annual industry reports, such as "Think Forward" and "We Are Social Global Digital".

We Are Social supported its people, creating a dedicated global People & Culture team to support its diverse talent base around the world, and creating a Diversity and Inclusion Charter in London. The network also invested in the training and development of its teams, and connected them through the Workplace by Facebook platform. When it came to pastoral care, We Are Social nurtured its team’s personal development and supported individual wellbeing in the workplace – creating an office environment to support people not just professionally but also personally. This approach has resulted in a consistent reduction in staff turnover over the past four years and, in 2019, delivered even greater improvement on this metric.

It was a year of extraordinary growth for We Are Social. Combined with fine work for its clients and market-leading innovation, this success has enabled the network to put greater resources into its client offer and to invest in the future.

Runner-up

Isobar

Isobar, the 2018 winner in this category, again put in a noteworthy performance. Its EMEA strategy is driving success through building technology capabilities and establishing partnerships bolstered by its creative excellence. The network’s most awarded work was "Road tales" for Volkswagen, and among its other eye-catching campaigns were "Jet lag social" for Air France KLM, and "The king’s stitch" for AB InBev in Nigeria. Account wins included Merlin Entertainments, the Egyptian Tourism Board and Audemars Piguet. Isobar’s partnerships with tech platforms including Salesforce and Adobe were strengthened in 2019, and it invested in Isobar Nowlab, an innovation initiative and accelerator that connects people across the network to share ideas.