Last week, Special Group was named Campaign's Global Creative Agency of the Year. Here, the group's leadership team from its three offices in New Zealand, Australia and the US pick five pieces of work that demonstrate why Special Group is the one to beat.
Uber Eats "Tonight I'll be eating..."
Australia and US
Tom Martin, chief creative officer and partner, Special Group Australia
After launching the "Tonight, I’ll be eating..." platform for Uber Eats in Australia in 2017, Uber Eats shot from fourth in category to number one. We were lucky enough to export the idea, launching it in other markets including Japan, Taiwan and New Zealand.
It was in 2020 that we were given the enormous task of launching the campaign in North America. The idea uses unexpected iconic duos not just to create an ad, but a cultural moment. With the US being known for its scale and Hollywood blockbusters, we knew we had to give them a pair that packed serious cultural punch.
So, we launched with two icons from, arguably, two of the most well-known film/TV franchises in history – Mark Hamill and Sir Patrick Stewart. We had them star in a comedic showdown that embodied the debate generations of fans have had about which franchise is the best.
The result was a campaign that was shared more than 125 million times in just two weeks, and we couldn’t be prouder of the efforts of everyone involved; in the States and in Austalia. The showdown of these rival megastars was then followed by the epic, and unusual, pairing of Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness with Olympic gold medallist gymnast Simone Biles. Two pieces of work that served as great calling card for Special’s arrival in the US.
Tourism New Zealand "Good morning world"
Australia and New Zealand
Tony Bradbourne, founder and chief executive, Special Group
Research revealed that while travellers might have come to New Zealand for the landscape, they ended up leaving New Zealand raving about the people. In order to really lean in to this unique insight and display our manaakitanga – which is a Maori word for hospitality – we needed to do something different, something really big.
Our creative idea was “Good morning world”, where we invited a different Kiwi to greet the world with a “Good morning”. Every. Single. Day. For an entire year. It was such a beautiful piece – New Zealand is the first country in the world to see the sun, so our optimism and warmth helped to set the tone for the world, against some very serious global issues.
More than 605 million impressions and 12 million likes and comments later, searches for "New Zealand" have grown by a record 1,590%. It has been awarded the world’s highest gold Effie award in 2020, an Integrated Grand Prix at Spikes Asia and Campaign of the Year by Ad News and Mumbrella.
It has won more than 20 international awards, including Pencils at D&AD, One Show and Australia’s AWARD. The head of marketing at Tourism New Zealand, Brodie Reid, also concluded it was their “most effective campaign – ever”, which is exactly the type of feedback you want to hear from a client.
Every Kiwi Vote Counts "Meddle in the New Zealand election"
Lisa Fedyszyn, executive creative director, Special Group
Close to one million New Zealanders live overseas. But only one in 10 voted in the 2017 New Zealand election. That left a serious number of Kiwis not having a say. So, to influence overseas non-voters to become voters in 2020, non-partisan initiative Every Kiwi Vote Counts turned to the experts in online election influencing. Yes, we turned to the Russians.
Our Russian spokesperson, Viktor, targeted overseas Kiwis on social, through PR and outdoor, explaining how easy it was to “meddle in the New Zealand election”. And, like any good Russian meddler, he got results – with 80 million impressions, overseas votes rising by 42% and a direct impact on the make-up of New Zealand.
This was based on a pure cultural insight – with Russian interference in the US election dominating the news, we knew we could turn to our Russian friends to help sway the New Zealand election. We might be left off maps – but we’re not forgotten about democratically.
The Lincoln Project "Walk of shame"
William Gelner, chief creative officer and partner, Special Group US
Data showed that in the 2016 US presidential election a surprising number of suburban women voted for Donald Trump. But over his four years in office they were having reservations about their decision. Using lo-fi simple animation of the elephant, the symbol for the GOP, we took one emotionally impactful moment, the morning-after walk of shame, and transferred those empty feelings to Trump voters who might be feeling regretful about their 2016 choice.
The spot let these people know they could fix the rough night/rough four years with a vote for Biden. The one-minute spot, which ran on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, was featured on MSNBC, shared by many talk radio programmes across the US and viewed more than one million times on YouTube. So, we’d like to think our first ever campaign in the US helped take down a president.
Uber Eats "Wayne's World at the Super Bowl"
Australia and US
Julian Schreiber, partner and chief creative officer, Special Group Australia
When Uber Eats briefed us to create a Super Bowl spot amid the rollercoaster ride that was 2020, we knew it had to be something that wasn’t just big, but meaningful.
We didn’t just want to create an ad campaign, we wanted to launch a nationwide support campaign for local restaurants. But we wanted to do it in an Uber Eats way, getting across the serious message through creating an entertaining cultural moment. So, we reunited Wayne’s World local access stars Mike Myers and Dana Carvey.
With Uber Eats committing $20m to a restaurant relief fund, Wayne and Garth became the perfect local "voice" for the campaign. They effortlessly tapped into a huge, multi-generational fan base as they made fun of every big ad trope in the SuperBowl book. The campaign was shared on every major TV network including NBC’s Tonight Show, Entertainment Tonight, Good Morning America and Today Show.
But one of the things we’re most proud of in this campaign was not played in the Super Bowl ad break. It was the creation of the two-and-a-half-hour-long film with Wayne and Garth that individually thanked and showed support to the more than 85,000 local restaurants on Uber Eats. It spread online during the Super Bowl and contained entertainment Easter eggs throughout, rewarding viewers for sticking around and seeing all the restaurants. The whole production team put in everything to make that happen (as well, of course, as Mike and Dana!).