Creative Agency Of The Year: MullenLowe Mediahub

John Moore, global president, MullenLowe Mediahub, said in a recent interview that “my favorite media is inventing it. Media is everywhere and only limited by your imagination.”

In 2016, MullenLowe Mediahub, which is MediaPost’s Creative Agency of the Year, did an extraordinary job of inventing media, highlighted by a campaign it developed for the Netflix program “Black Mirror.”

The anthology show explores how technology can change things — so it seemed like a natural fit to target ad-blocking viewers, who by definition have used technology to improve their user experience.   

In fact, "we knew that the audience for the show [younger males] were heavy users of ad blockers,” Moore said. "The goal became figuring out a way to reach them."

The agency partnered with tech-focused publishers Mashable and TheNextWeb to devise messages that were put onto pages that only ad blockers could see. “Basically we figured out a way to hack the Web,” said Moore. While ad-blocking viewers wouldn’t see the show’s normal ad promos, they did see a campaign that read in part: “Hello ad blocker user. You cannot see the ad, but the ad can see you. What’s on the other side of your Black Mirror?”

How effective was the effort? It’s no secret that tech firms in the media and marketing space can be pretty stingy with data, and Netflix keeps its own marketing-related data pretty close to the vest. But word is that insiders were wowed by the creative concept.

And clearly Netflix is pleased with the agency’s work overall — this year it expanded the shop’s responsibilities to serve key markets beyond North America to Australia, the UK and New Zealand.

The agency won a pocketful of other key new business assignments as well, including Western Union, Harley-Davidson and Duke Energy, among others.

For another Netflix show, “Stranger Things,” the agency used mobile and gaming formats in unique ways to promote the program’s period setting, the 1980s.

The mobile campaign mimicked incoming calls as seen on the program (‘80s era wireline dial phones) and used haptic technology to create the vibration of a ringing phone to make the messages more jarring. While mobile technology has radically changed the way that most Americans go about their daily business, marketers and agencies still have a hard time applying mobile effectively in ad campaigns, says Moore. “Few agencies have cracked the mobile code.”

The agency also created interactive content to promote “Stranger Things” on the Twitch gamer network. A live stream of five gamers playing popular '80s video games allowed viewers to vote in real-time for "strange things" to happen on the set, including whispering voices, lights flickering, and the sudden appearance of smoke (from a smoke machine).

A JetBlue OOH effort encouraged passersby to get involved in a very hands-on way with the campaign, encouraging them to take posters off bus shelters scattered across New York. Each poster had a unique offer that could be redeemed at a nearby merchant.

And a campaign for Royal Caribbean also used outdoor in an innovative way, combining it with social platform Periscope in a bid to demonstrate the appeal of cruises to a younger audience.

The agency sent social influencers on a Royal Caribbean Cruise and enabled them to share their experiences live with followers via Periscope. Their live-stream adventures were also beamed across 90 outdoor digital placements. “We wanted to make the marketing as innovative as the ships” in the RC fleet, said Moore. “So we reimagined outdoor,” and its potential to be combined with newer media.

The agency also used its storytelling capabilities to help luxury brand Shinola tell its tale of a brand reimagined, focused on American craftsmanship and thriving and providing jobs in Detroit, a city that is making its way back from a period of economic hardship.  

Influencers were also deployed across the fashion and lifestyle space, and paid social was used to move the stories and content to targeted consumers. The effort helped lift brand growth from a site visitation, engagement and conversion perspective.

The campaigns cited above are “emblematic of the innovative way our team thinks,” said Moore. “We work really well with brands that are trying to upset the status quo.”

The notion of “challenger brand” has changed, asserts Moore. It used to be that such brands zigged when the rest of its competitor set was zagging. “Now,” he submits, “challenger brands are brands that are trying to change the world.”

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