2023 Digital Creative Competition: photos from the awards afternoon
“The power and scale of digital out-of-home, plugged into the narrative of the nation.”
The words of Phil Hall, Ocean Outdoor UK’s chief executive, aptly reflect how the winners of the Digital Creative Competition this year all used the potency of the medium, and then mixed it with a huge dose of imagination and ambition to make the world a better place.
The competition, run by Ocean and Campaign, is unlike most others in that it rewards pure concepts, rather than ads that have already been made. Ocean’s provocation is for entries to push the limits of what might be possible. “All you need is an idea,” says Hall. “We will make it happen.”
Between them, the six winning entries - shown below - will share £500,000 worth of airtime for their concepts to be shown across Ocean’s multiple environments and digital formats in cities across the UK. They each entered an idea and now Ocean will help bring them to life. Previous winners over the contest’s 14 years have gone on to win six Cannes Lions.
“We have a responsibility to shift the dial,” Hall told a packed hall at London’s Frameless where the prizes were announced at an afternoon ceremony. “We look to the future. We try to push the boundaries as much as possible and to help [advertisers, agencies and landlords] where we can.”
The superpower of DOOH in 2023 is evident, he said:
• Worth £815m in the UK, DOOH has markedly improved over the past five years - with more screens, of improved quality and in better locations; and developments in tech capability and a greater recognition of the creative possibilities of its digital canvas.
• Neuroscience research commissioned by Ocean shows the power of social amplification of DOOH, with, for example, a 54% increase in dwell time for a brand using DOOH campaign as social content
• Creativity on the big screen “works”. When innovation, tech, creativity and opportunity come together in DOOH, then it’s clear that “not all impacts are equal”.
• DOOH puts creativity at the heart of the community. Fifty pence in every £1 spent on outdoor goes to local communities. And, “in an increasingly fractured world, if you can talk to everyone at the same time with the same tone of voice in their communities, that is a real superpower.”
• The environment of DOOH is constantly improving for both advertisers and landlords: Ocean has developed content partnerships over several years with organisations such as Team GB, the BBC, The British Fashion Council, ITV and Channel 4. Next year is the Paris Olympics, Wimbledon and the 40th anniversary of the London Fashion Week. In addition: “We can source content and build your creative around it.”
THE 2023 WINNERS
Commercial brand category
1st prize: EE “ Free Field Trips” by Saatchi & Saatchi
Almost half of all school children miss out on field trips because of the cost of living crisis, but they learn a lot by getting out of the classroom and exploring in real life. Already committed to supporting kids’ wellbeing, EE uses its Pearson educational partnership to create the first ever OOH field trip to Birmingham city centre. Using all the technology provided by The Loop network, it presents an interactive walking tour using full motion, mobile interactivity, haptics and AR to bring the WW2 history curriculum to life through quizzes, puzzles and the vivid recreation of Birmingham street scenes during the Blitz. The trail ends at the Birmingham Media Eyes with an AR experience which puts pupils inside the street scenes themselves.
The judges said: “It’s very hard to find fault with this idea. Holding an OOH field trip across The Loop is a wholesome way to learn and an incredible use of OOH technology for educational purposes. It’s really scalable too. It gets students outside; it gets them moving and it’s very engaging.”
2nd prize: Moonpig “Moonpiggadilly” by Creature London
Times are tough. Hate crimes are on the rise, there’s a war, protests and bad news at every turn. Time to spread the love, something the nation does every second of the day apparently by sending someone important a heartfelt message. To make these moments even bigger, Moonpig uses the scale of Piccadilly Lights and the impact of Ocean’s DeepScreen® 3D tech to bring its mascot to life in adorable ways. Participants create their personalised messages which are then shared on the Piccadilly screen and live streamed across Moonpig’s social channels, giving all of us a reason to smile.
The judges said: “This is cool and fun. So many people will engage with this on Piccadilly, look out for it and send it to their loved ones. It’s the sort of idea that will go viral.”
3rd prize: Diageo “Greetings From Tomorrow” by ACNE London
This attention-grabbing opt-in campaign uses AR technology to entice people to sensibly pace themselves on a night out by seeing what their tomorrows could look like when they do, transporting their faces live on Ocean screens into fantastical, over the top “Tomorrow” sequences. The OOH journey ends with a few pearls of wisdom, a QR code to scan and redeem for a 0.0% non-alcoholic drink of their choice at a local bar, and a digital postcard from their “Tomorrowself” to celebrate their choices.
The judges said: “This is a fun idea which incorporates tech in a useful way. The message is right and the journey is fantastic. It’s not preachy or worthy and has thought about how to get people to take action by being the star of the poster.”
1st prize: Stonewall Housing “Behind closed doors” by Mr President
Almost one in five LGBTQ+ people experience homelessness in their lifetime, with 77% citing family rejection as the reason. To spread national awareness about the resulting housing crisis, Stonewall Housing harnesses the interactive technology of Ocean’s The Loop network. Participants are invited to hear what actually goes on behind closed doors when LGBTQ+ people are kicked out for coming out, standing on doormats in front of the screens, which are turned into front doors, to trigger sound technology. Onlookers are invited to knock to make it stop and make a donation, upon which the door is opened by an LGBTQ+ person who has been helped.
The judges said: “This intriguing, impactful idea is incongruent for the High Street, which is why it works. It’s a smart use of six-sheets at audience eye level. This is where OOH works so well, for a charity that no one knows.”
2nd prize: Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity “Big Face” by Open Creates
Great Ormond Street Hospital has outgrown its current treatment facilities for unwell children. It is a problem because cancer is the biggest killer of one-to-14 years olds in the UK. GOSH uses a child’s face pressed up against the digital screen in a fun and entertainingly compelling way to demonstrate how they have outgrown the space. But there’s an obvious tension because she’s poorly. Viewers are invited to scan a QR code to donate and help “Build It. Beat It”, their money triggering a 3D rendition of the new cancer facility and a massive, personalised message of thanks.
The judges said: “The image of the child pressing their face against the screen plays beautifully with the proportions of the screen. The message is simple and we like how it manifests donations in real time. It’s about normal kids that want some help.”
3rd prize: The Hygiene Bank “Hiding in Plain Sight” by ACNE London
In the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, more than 3.2million people in the UK are affected by hygiene poverty, going without toothpaste, shampoo and sanitary products. Grassroots charity The Hygiene Bank tackles the need for donations by moving hygiene poverty out of the shadows and into the light. Both intimate and surprising, Ocean’s sound shower tech is used to attract people’s attention, telling different stories triggered by live data based on what stock the local hygiene bank needs at that time. People who donate via a QR code are invited to share their generosity with their networks, encouraging wider support.
The judges said: “This idea thinks about the end-to-end consumer journey, using tech at every step of the way. It’s contextual and tells you where your local hygiene banks are. We like the intimate directional use of sound in an OOH setting and would be more inclined to stop and look at this than we would be stopping to talk to a person.”