2019 MedAdNews Awards Agency of the Year Finalist


  1. Volvo – “A Million More” – The timing for this ad couldn’t be more appropriate in the context of a world where people are still debating the necessity for mask wearing during COVID-19. This highly emotive purpose-driven ad depicts survivors of car crashes whose lives were saved by seat belts reading the initial inflammatory criticism of how much seat belts were an incursion on people’s individual freedoms. In hindsight it’s shocking, much like how future generations will be looking at the US’ reaction to a deadly pandemic. Oh yeah, plus the soundtrack is slow to fast to slow pianos, so you know they want you to get emotional.
  2. Budweiser – “The Beer Behind Sports” – Budweiser has had 2 genius competitive hijacking campaigns in the last 12 months, one focused in the music industry and the one mentioned here in football, or as we Americans call it, soccer. While they were not the name brand sponsor for the Champions League (that would be Heineken), they hacked the Google Maps algorithm to own the location of the events with a photo that then drives to a random search strategy that presents images of their brand. In practice, not sure how many actual customers went through the complicated steps of what the case study outlines, but from a pure competitive trolling standpoint and digital savvy, it’s pretty awesome.
  3. Life Buoy – “Hackwashing” – Speaking of hacking customer behavior, this smart campaign from Life Buoy figured out how to reduce infection rates at an annual religious festival by making the entrance stamp ink out of antibacterial soap. Smart observation of customer behavior – most attendees washed their hands with water only (no soap) and insertion of smart behavioral nudge for good.
  4. Norrlands Guld – The Legally Binding Beer Contract – Remember when you used to get together with friends in person. Oh the before times…where you didn’t live your life in a 13” MS Teams or Zoom box. Well, as you may remember, back in the day you’d make plans with people and sometimes when it came time to meet up with your friends you just weren’t really feeling up to it and would flake out and decide not to go because it was just easier to sink into your couch and watch another episode of Netflix. This beer brand addresses that flaky behavior. If you don’t show up, you just legally broke a contract and you owe your friend money. Pretty genius and really drove up awareness of the brand. 
  5. Natural Light – The World’s Most Expensive Art Installation – When I went to college this beer was called Natty Lite, but I guess they have gotten classier in the past 2 decades. As an aside, I really need to look into how they rebranded “Natty Ice” – I can only assume it is now La Glace Naturelle. This may be best exemplified by their most recent art installation in which they created a sculpture in Grand Central Station built out of 2600 diplomas. Named “The Da Vinci” of debt, the total value of the materials is $470MM, exceeding the previously highest cost art, da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi”. 


  • The West Wing (HBO Max) – In the midst of a pandemic and political upheaval I retreated to the hyperverbal early 1990s political drama The West Wing. A couple of observations…first of all, wow, this show was stacked with talent (Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, Rob Lowe, Bradley Whitford). Second, everyone looks so young. Third, every criticism of this being a Sorkinesque fantasy of politics where bills get passed and things get done is spot on. Fourth, it’s sad to see that the white supremacist insurrectionists plot line at the end of S1 is still eerily relevant.


  • American Utopia (HBO Max) – I think that technically this is a movie of a Broadway show, but either way, incredibly performed show from lead singer of the Talking Heads, David Byrne. As the Talking Heads are one of my top 5 favorite bands of all time, I think I had a huge smile the whole time watching this. Make sure you’re listening on good speakers or headphones because it features the top session musicians across the world.


  • The Rewatchables “Bridesmaids” – I really enjoyed this podcast which takes an in-depth look at highly rewatchable films, which then inevitably drove me to rewatch the movie and enjoy how excellent it was again. My favorite part of the podcast is the podcasters repeatedly complaining that the movie is overly long when the run time of the podcast episode is 1 hour and 50 minutes. Favorite scene in the movie is when Kristen Wiig is on the plane to the bachelorette party and starts screaming “there’s a revolutionary woman on the wing!!”


  • Sea Shanty Tik Tok – I did not have “sea shanties will be the zeitgeist” on my 2021 bingo board, did you? Waiting for the first team in the agency to send me their rendition of “the Wellerman”.

Written by Nick Rhodin

Managing Partner,
Executive Director of Strategic Planning

Nick is devoted to discovering and leveraging core customer insights to drive brand strategy development.

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