Notes on select winners from EPICA Awards 2021

Epica Awards are ‘creative prizes judged by journalists‘. I have been a keen follower of the awards over the years (see here) as one gets to see non-English work from several European countries (among others) across interesting categories such as media innovation and product design. The 2021 winners of Epica Awards have been announced. Here is a selection of work which caught my eye:

SingleCut Beersmiths : the IPA that will teach you guitar

Alcohol advertising (where allowed) is mostly full of cliches. In markets such as India where ‘surrogate’ advertising is allowed it borders on the ridiculous. In that context it is refreshing to see a a US-based craft brewery company, SingleCut Beersmiths invest in an integrated idea which is just beyond creating an ad. The released specially made beer cans which have basic chord-shapes etched on them so one has to simply grip the can the right way to learn. The can had a link to Snapchat AR for live demos and an injection-moulded pick doubled up as a can opener too. It was all thought through right to the packaging.

Agency: Zulu Alpha Kilo

Heinz: it has to be

According an article by Tom Roach, ‘Advertising featuring known distinctive brand assets achieved an average +34% higher advertising recognition in a study by Jenni Romaniuk at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute’. An article from WARC explains:

A distinctive brand asset is a non-brand-name trigger for a brand name in category buyer memory. These can take verbal, visual or auditory form: think of Mastercard’s deep associate with the word ‘priceless’, McDonald’s instantly-recognisable golden arches, or Intel’s famous five-note mnemonic.


As I said in an earlier post, ‘One of the best mantras of marketing is that ‘not all brands are unique, but they can be distinct’. In a world where there is parity in most products or services in a category this rings so true. In a sea of sameness across banks, hotels, apparel brands, chocolates and other categories that we may use, we will be able to recollect only a handful among them‘. The shape on the label of Heinz ketchup, known as the keystone is one such asset. A campaign for Heinz reinforces it in a simple yet arresting visual.

Agency: Rethink

Camaieu: away from work

‘Clothing made for a diverse set of people’ may sound generic and insipid for a fashion brand, even but I found this campaign to be strangely mesmerising, clever and successful in portraying the protagonists at ‘women of substance’. The line ‘Away from work she wears a Camaieu‘ is so simple and clever. The French do create some great work in fashion.

Agency: Buzzman

BNP Paribas: top of the bill

Ages ago, when in advertising, the ad agency I worked for executed a smart media innovation for Akai – the TV & audio equipment brand. In Mumbai, it is customary for billboards to be rented for a specific period of time by advertisers. Once the campaign is over, if the contract is not renewed the same set of billboards are rented to another advertiser. Sometimes there could be a gap of a few days or weeks before the new brand’s campaign is put up. In such periods, the billboard contractor simply painted his company’s name and number on it – it is a period where no revenues are earned for that billboard. Our agency suggested to Akai that they pay a nominal sum to the contractor for such ‘un-utilised’ hoardings but have the brand name painted on them, just as a reminder. In Mumbai, the full-of-traffic Western Express highway, is dotted with a series of hoardings. So after the deal, several such hoardings were spotted one after the other with just the Akai brand name – great impact at a cost-effective price.

I was reminded of this when I saw this effort for BNP Paribas in the context of COVID-19. In an effort to support local small business, they promoted them using the space available outside cinema theatres. Such spaces, usually reserved for movie posters promoted local business in the style of a movie poster.

Agency: Hungry & Foolish

Elena’s Heartbreak Ice Cream: breakup fix

I too noticed this campaign for a Mexican ice cream brand which offered a pint with 5 flavours layered to coincide with the stages of a break up.

Elena's Heartbreak Ice Cream

Agency: VMLY&R Commerce

MINI: outdoor campaignMINImalism

Small cars such as SMART have used print and outdoor space well to convey their benefits of being suited for city driving – being able to park in tight spaces, manoeuvrability and such like. MINI is an iconic brand in this space (no pun intended) and this campaign combines the benefits of the brand and its distinctive (there we go again) brand asset.

Agency: Serviceplan, Germany

HSBC: The Homeless Bank Account

Financial inclusion is a priority not just a priority for developing countries. In UK, there are 280,000 people who are homeless and thus deprived of a bank account. It then adds to a vicious cycle of being denied benefits, jobs and getting a home. HSBC worked with local charities to create a service which ensured a bank account for such people. An awareness campaign executed in bus shelters and other outdoor formats reached the right audience.

Agency: Wunderman Thompson, UK

Which one was your favourite? Do comment in.

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