Best of the Net Awards 2002

Perhaps adversity really does breed creativity. From the looks of our nine category winners in this year’s Best of the Net Awards for Online Advertising Campaigns, you would never know that the online ad industry is working through an undeniable spending dip. From high tech to packaged goods, automotive to finance, online ads across sectors showed a remarkable jump both in creativity and marketing savvy this year. Agencies armed themselves with a much larger palette of design tools and took advantage of media’s new willingness to play along. Online ads started telling detailed stories about products and companies (McDonald’s, Delta). Other winners let us play with brands (Revlon, Absolut). And some penetrated clutter with amazing subtlety (ING) or dazzling production values (MSN, Lexus). Then, of course, some simply rattled our screen and bit us (Discovery Channel Shark Week). Equally important, the media buyers on these campaigns were thinking hard about targeted placement, programming in dayparts, and the ways in which ad creative fits in with usage patterns at a site. Like a good Zoloft regimen, the ads our readers chose as the best in their field pointed the way out of industry depression and really advanced the case for this platform’s unique contributions to the media mix.

And now that we’re in an elevated mood, let’s toss in a few awards for most noticeable trends among these winners.

Second Runner-up: Integration. The overwhelming majority of winners this year complemented a cross-media marketing plan by extending offline ad themes and images to the Web, but in novel ways. Campaigns such as the Lexus Minority Report Experience and Revlon High Dimension excelled at engaging consumers more intimately and interactively than other platform in the mix.

First Runner-up: Branding. Is Dynamic Logic being kept busy or what? If these winners are any indication, the case for branding on the Web is being made among clients. In interviewing media directors on their winning ads, hardly one even uttered the words “click-through.” The innovative ING placements and the mass buy for MSN 8 demonstrated handily that the medium could brand, brand well, and brand on a number of different levels.

Winner (by a landslide): Rich Media. Everyone was using rich media this year, but our winners rose above the crowd to map the real range of possibilities in bringing online ads to life. The Cingular/Spider-Man campaign was unprecedented in its use of narrative and character to reinforce a brand, while the Delta Airline treatments used the new tools to show, not just tell, about a product. And, of course, that Flash-powered Absolut bottle continues to amaze us by turning a brand into a toy. We have seen online advertising’s future, and it is fully animated. Given the level of creativity and marketing savvy at work among this year’s winners, perhaps hard times are good for us.

So take a tour of the Best of the Net — Online Ad Campaigns for 2002 and see why each of the winners and runner-ups were selected. And because there was just so much good work out there this year, we included thirty other notable campaigns that are worth seeing too.

Finally, to see a sample of each campaign listed, go to

Category reviews by Steve Smith and research by Adam Herman, Managing Editor


Client: Lexus
Agency: Team One
Campaign: Minority Report
Creative Director: Gabrielle Mayeur
Media Director: Arthur Chan

An enticing use of full-animation rich media, both in large ads and on the ambitious website, bolted the Lexus brand to Spielberg’s lush vision of the future.

In one of the smartest brand-building exercises we have seen in a while, Lexus took product placement to the next level — almost to the next century — by envisioning its “2054” car line for use in Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi thriller. Flash and Shockwave units literally pulled users into the future, letting them click-start a recreation of the film’s fictional Lexus spots and then pass into the Lexus Minority Report Experience website, an interactive tour of the 2054 model car and home.

“The general strategy was to create an entertaining experience for our users while using the Lexus Minority Report vehicle of 2054 as a central ‘character’ in the journey,” says Gabrielle Mayeur, creative director. The stunning landing site, a full-blown interactive adventure set in 2054, attracted 525,000 visitors, 64,000 of whom came from the banner campaign at a broad selection of major portal and content brands. Deservedly, campaign and site garnered multiple awards, including one from the British Academy of Film & Television Arts. By playing so effectively across media and immersing its brand in the Spielberg vision, the online campaign drove head-on into Lexus’s goal of lifting brand image and emotional identification. After all, what more do you need to know about a car company than that it will be here in 50 years to replace that pesky taillight?


Client: Toyota
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Campaign: Corolla Joy Ride
Creative Director: Nathan Hackstock and Allen McMullen
Media Director: Priya Verma


Client: Absolut
Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day
Campaign: Absolut Online
Creative Director: Doug Jaeger, TBWA\Chiat\Day
Media Director: Mikael Marticki, OMD USA

Hands down the most successful use of Flash technology to explore online advertising’s interactive possibilities. Interactive Absolut bottles remain one of the Web’s few truly memorable ad campaigns, turning a familiar brand into a toy.

Much like an unexpected iced shot of Absolut appearing on your desk, this cutting-edge Flash deployment surprises and entertains the viewer, and never, ever feels unwelcome. Doug Jaeger, group creative director at TBWA\Chiat\Day, and his team were handed an ad legend — that ubiquitous vodka bottle — and haven’t lost a drop of the brand’s wit and inventiveness while serving it online. Whether we are peeling a lemon skin from the bottle, changing the vodka’s flavor, or maybe just mousing across a moving sky of clouds, these ads are toys that engage consumers in the brand’s playful image.

“With Absolut, creativity is key,” says Jaeger. “We invite users to interact, something they were never able to do before. The feedback from consumers has been outstanding.” The team also moves the line forward on measuring online success. Eschewing click-throughs, this campaign associates brand impact with interaction rates (in the double digits, according to TBWA). Likewise, placing these ads is not an exercise in chart reading. “It is not so much about demographics as it is about being contextual and finding the right environment for the brand,” says Mikael Marticki, interactive media planner, OMD USA, who put Absolut on the Wired, Salon, and BlackPlanet sites. Let’s raise a glass to a campaign that puts the “interactive” in interactive advertising.


Client: Florida Department of Citrus
Agency: ClickHere/Richards Interactive
Campaign: Best Start Under the Sun
Creative Director: Brian Nadurak, Richards Interactive
Media Supervisor: Kristin Gillin, ClickHere

Consumer Products

Client: Cingular
Campaign: Cingular Spider-Man
Agency: Atmosphere/OMD Digital
Creative Directors: Arturo Aranda and Michael Field
Media Director: Rob D’Asaro

The Cingular/Spider-Man campaign moved rich media forward by infusing a five-second format with character and story, successfully enhancing the Cingular logo with a familiar media personality and garnering stupendous CTR.

OK, so maybe Spider-Man has a home field advantage as a promotional character on the Web, but Atmosphere’s ambitious use of Flash and Eyeblaster technologies for Cingular made this campaign swing higher than any other in the consumer space this year. Whether it was the shadows of Spidey and that Cingular asterisk thingy floating across MaximOnline, or Spidey’s hand ripping down a skyscraper unit on Yahoo!, the campaign used rich media assets both to tell a story that advanced Cingular’s brand message of self-expression and to promote specific product offers, national airtime, and Spider-Man cell phone accessories. Atmosphere worked in concert with BBDO New York to coordinate online and offline messaging in this component of a massive marketing tie-in with the blockbuster film release.

“Being able to use the characters allowed us to capitalize on the online buzz about the movie,” says Michael Field, associate creative director. “We had a lot of fun concepting engaging scenarios using Spider-Man, Green Goblin, and the Cingular logo.” In fact, this campaign truly stands out creatively for the ways in which Arturo Aranda and Field crafted snap stories. They teased us with the familiar Spider-Man image and replaced it with the playful Cingular asterisk, transferring personality attributes of an old, trusted icon to a new logo. Put such compelling creative into heavy rotation at major portals and entertainment sites and you swing to new performance heights: over 1 million click-throughs to and a staggering 24% CTR from those Web-clinging Eyeblaster placements. Beat that, Superman.


Client: Nike
Agency: Summit Projects
Campaign: Nike Before
Creative Director: Tim Klauda
Media Director: Cathy Morse, Nike Digital


Client: Discovery Channel
Campaign: Discovery Channel Celebrity Shark Week
Agency: i-traffic
Creative: Blair Shapiro
Media: Jay Altschuler

This entertaining and unforgettable rich media creative leveraged the Web’s targeting ability to complement another medium.

When animals attack — especially when they attack a website — people tend to notice. Blair Shapiro, VP creative, and his team at i-traffic,'s online advertising arm, literally submerged in the deep blue and directed a circling shark to take a bite from the screen itself. Meanwhile, they carved the E! Online homepage a new porthole and dispersed other Flash skyscraper units that literally shook from an animated shark attack. Looking to convey what Shapiro calls the “in-your-face, up-close programming” of the Discovery Channel’s Celebrity Shark Week, i-traffic used the full Eyeblaster and Flash toolkits and the Web’s special targeting power to reach a new audience for the cable channel.

“It was a complement to the offline plan” of TV promos aimed at adults 35 to 54, says Jay Altschuler, media director. “TV overindexes against older viewers, so online we focused on 18 to 34, younger and edgier.” They targeted entertainment or gaming sites and played up the young celebrities involved in the Shark Week programming in order to bite into the young and hip demo, those who track stars more than they do nature documentaries. Post-campaign measurements showed 2% CTRs overall for the campaign and good conversion rates at the landing site for visitors grabbing show times or asking for email reminders. With one of the most imaginative and entertaining uses of the rich media palette we’ve seen this year, the i-traffic team demonstrated how Web campaigns can expand even on the legendary promotional power of TV. OK, we can’t resist. This ad run was better than “edgy;” it showed that the medium has some teeth.


Client: Showtime
Agency: Freestyle Interactive
Campaign: Jeremiah
Creative Director: Mike Yapp
Media Director: Dan Buczaczer


Client: ING
Agencies: Tribal DDB and Euro RSCG Circle
Campaign: Brand Awareness Campaign
Creative Directors: Brook Lundy and Duncan Mitchell (Tribal) and Aimee Reker (Circle)
Media Directors: Mark Mirsky (Tribal) and Dave Batista (Circle)

Groundbreaking creative and breakthrough site integration not only helped build the ING brand, but also exemplified its freshness in a stodgy category.

If you don’t know what ING is by now, then you just haven’t been paying attention. Throughout 2002, Euro RSCG Circle deployed stunning rich media that painted our screens ING orange and even marched silhouettes of man and dog (from the TV spots) across our screens. The master branding plan was “fresh, bright, consciously different from others in the [financial services] category,” says Dave Batista, executive media director, Circle. Unaided brand lift rocketed 500% by July 2002, when Circle handed the online account off to ING’s offline agency, DDB. Tribal capped the winning streak with a wry and genuine breakthrough in editorial integration, turning every instance of “ING” in select articles at SmartMoney and Sportsline to orange I-N-Gs for 20 seconds.

Unmistakable but also non-intrusive, this and similarly clever spots around the Web advanced the initial strategy by lending the brand a refreshing playfulness and wit. Tribal creative director Brook Lundy calls it a “bizarre experiment in communications. Can a global financial services company make its audiences laugh out loud?” Indeed, the sector could use some yuks. Taking on a gray-haired field that enjoys massive brand recognition (not to mention deep pockets), the ING campaigns sought to outsmart rather than outspend competitors, and created one of the most innovative yet subtle integrated advertising concepts yet seen online. In a financial market field where old farts pontificating about “the long-term view” from leather wing chairs still passes for advertising, this was truly (one last time) invigorating.


Client: Mastercard International
Agency: IconNicholson, IconMedialab NY
Campaign: Memorable Moments
Creative Director: Maya Kopytman (IconNicholson)
Media Director: Jerry Courtney (GSD&M)

High Tech

Client: Microsoft Network
Campaign: MSN 8 Launch
Agencies: Tattoo Media and Avenue A
Creative Director: Kim Obbink and Anne Vande Creek (Tattoo)
Media Director: Della Quimby (Avenue A)

This understated but memorable use of full-screen rich media was the best example of TV-like production values meeting the Web’s extraordinary reach.

Who says the Web isn’t a mass medium? As Avenue A client strategist Della Quimby describes it, the MSN 8 launch campaign was looking to reach “90% of the Internet audience in a manner that created impact.” On TV, that ubiquitous, paunchy MSN butterfly scampered through Times Square, while the guerrilla campaign sent him (it?) literally swooping down on passersby in key New York commuter venues. By comparison, the “It’s Better With the Butterfly” character was well-behaved in the page takeovers at 12 of the farthest-reaching sites online (including, MSN, and

Tattoo Media’s creative was something closer to a full-bore TV spot. Silhouetted in stage light much like Sinatra ready to take the mike, the butterfly enjoyed a hi-res, audio-enhanced, full-screen commercial. “We pushed the technology and created a higher-quality production value and a more entertaining commercial interruption,” says Kim Obbink, creative director, Tattoo Media. The achieved goal was to extend the offline ad messaging and, no doubt, reflect the blitzkrieg scale and drama of Microsoft’s $300 million spending spree on MSN 8. Quimby makes no bones about it: “The MSN 8 launch campaign was one of [the largest], if not the largest, week-long campaigns we have seen on the Internet.” It’s good to know there’s at least one brand left out there that is proud to say it spends lavishly on mass eyeballs.


Client: IBM
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather
Campaign: Fusion
Creative Director: Greg Kaplan
Media Director: Stuart Bogaty

Packaged Goods

Client: Revlon
Agency: iDeutsch
Campaign: High Dimension
Creative Director: Ingrid Bernstein
Media Director: Patrick Benson

With sharp insight about its consumers’ behavior, iDeutsch designed the most inviting call to action we have seen recently in an interactive unit: Change your hair color… now.

If you want to drive traffic to a new product website, let users interact with it before they get there. The iDeutsch Flash-animated skyscraper unit for Revlon’s High Dimension hair color line blurs the distinction between ad and utility brilliantly, and continues to run on several top women’s sites. The first frame swipes to a color-choice chart, inviting users to pick a new hue. The click-through recognizes the choice and lands users at stage two of the “Shade Calculator” process, which shows nervous colorists how the new tint will interact with their current color.

The ad and its landing site spoke directly to market research that showed how much women worry about the results of a color job. “We were providing individualized shade assurance,” says Ingrid Bernstein, SVP, creative director, iDeutsch. The campaign had parallel goals. While it is succeeding in driving traffic to the product site, media director Patrick Benson says, "we believe that success metrics need not focus on clicks and CTR alone, but also on inherent value such as significantly affecting consumer behavior, perception, and confidence.” Indeed, one of the strong points of this creative is that it addressed several issues: intent to purchase, interactivity, and brand favorability. “What is really important about the Web is that you can fulfill all of those levels,” says Bernstein.


Client: P&G’s Pampers
Campaign: Custom Line Up Launch
Creative Director: Allyson Lappen
Media Director: Josi Taylor


Client: McDonald’s
Campaign: McDonald’s New Tastes Menu, December 2001
Agency: Tribal DDB
Creative Director: Mark Howell
Media Director: Sean Finnegan, OMD Digital Midwest

Tribal’s McDonald’s campaign re-imagines the medium as an engine for fueling offline impulse buys. Leverage the Web’s in-your-tastebuds graphics ability and wave the food under their noses at 8:30 a.m., and watch users trot to Mickey D’s.

If you want somebody to go out this second and buy your breakfast product, show them the goods when they are most hungry. This was Tribal DDB’s straightforward strategy in programming a novel use of the Web — getting people to leave their desks and buy a Ranchero Bagel… now. Creative Director Mark Howell adapted different takes of a detailed image of mouth-watering menu items for Unicast, Flash, USA Today Toaster, and DHTML for runs on Ask Jeeves, AOL, ESPN, and other big eyeball buckets.

“The campaign demonstrates the ability of Web advertising both to brand a new product and a new menu and to drive impulse purchases,” says Howell. In each case, he contrasted the rich elements of the bagel concoction with the simple, bland alternative of an egg for breakfast. The superstitials tasted especially good, eliciting hunger with sound (great effects and even the McD’s jingle) and interactivity (mouseovers that describe the Ranchero Bagel elements). While Sean Finnegan, director, OMD Digital, didn’t set out to buy day parts specifically, “a lot of thought went into the way in which people use the Internet and what sites were more likely to be frequented during the breakfast hours,” he says. In the end, Tribal and OMD dished up a satisfying blend of classic visual messaging and daytime targeting to show the Web has chops.


Client: Pizza Hut
Agency: The Digital Edge
Campaign: Pizza Hut Traffic Driver
Creative Director: Matt Straznitskas
Media Team: Adam Gerber, David Roter, Laurie Shackell, Ben Valenzuela


Client: Delta Airlines
Agency: Modem Media
Campaign: Hate Lines?
Creative Director: Tom Beeby and Peter Leeds
Media Director: Karen Anderson

The Delta “Hate Lines?” campaign made innovative use of rich media as way to demo product attributes online and leverage the medium’s targeting ability to grab business travelers where they live.

The kids at Modem Media paid attention in Comp 101, because their “Hate Lines?” placements for Delta followed a classic “Don’t tell, show” principle of exposition. To support the airline’s promise to eliminate the wait at ticket counters, the online component of Delta’s cross-media campaign used Eyeblaster and Flash not to dazzle or divert but to illustrate what executive creative director Tom Beeby calls “proof points — that Delta can back it up.” One superb treatment illustrated an online boarding pass feature by spitting out a pass from a slot in a top banner and having it land in a skyscraper unit below. Simpler GIF banners let users click through to get the current security line wait at local airports.

“In the online space we have a different dimension available, to view and demo functionality that proves and fulfills the brand promise,” says Beeby. Media Director Karen Anderson targeted New York metro frequent business travelers “in a holistic manner,” she says, touching them repeatedly at (even on its AvantGo channel) as well as dayparts on CBS MarketWatch and highly targeted buys on bigger news and financial sites. The messaging was cleanly designed and very simple, but it built the sponsor’s case by “bringing to life the Delta ‘no-lines’ experience, no matter which mindset they happened to be in,” says Anderson. Don’t just tell, show… again and again.


Client: Travelocity
Agency: Click Here/Richards Interactive
Campaign: Travelocity Can
Creative Director: Brian Nadurak, Richards Interactive
Media Supervisor: Emma Coker, Click Here

Notable Campaigns of 2002

From the hundreds of online campaigns we reviewed for this feature, we found 30 additional campaigns worthy of distinction.

These Notable Campaigns of 2002, displayed a variety of branding devices, technologies, and innovative use of content integration to capture the attention of both Web users and our editors.

Congratulations to all.

Almay iDeutsch
American Express Digitas
BMC SoftwareTarget Market Interactive
BMW Films Fallon
Chick-fil-A RestuartantsClick Here
CokeUniversal McCann
Diet PepsiTribal DDB
DoubleClickBeyond Interactive
GM ViewmasterZentropy Partners
Hewlett PackardOptimediaSF
History Channel - The ShipHorizon
Marriott EscapeZentropy Partners
NexiumAvenue A
Panasonic Consumer ElectronicsRenegade Marketing Group
ReebokBeyond Interactive
SnickersModem Media
SnugglePure & Gentle Draft Digital
Sobe Mr. GreenTibal DDB
Sony - SpidermanSony Digital
State Farm InsuranceTribal DDB LA
Thrifty Car RentalBernstein-Rein
U.S. Navy Recruiting CommandCampbell-Ewald
Wells FargoMedia Contacts
X-BoxFreestyle Interactive
Yahoo! DSLYahoo
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