winter / 2016

The magazine of branded content
Winners of
the Pearl
Juliet Stott
Find out who is best of the best
Juliet Stott
Dec 14, 2016

The Content Council has been celebrating excellence in content marketing since 2004, making The Pearl Awards the longest running content marketing awards program in the United States. This year we were delighted to receive nearly 400 entries from 87 global companies. The variety of submissions continue to grow each year, showing how far reaching and diverse the content marketing industry has become.

In November, we had the pleasure of hosting marketers from around the globe in New York City at our annual awards event. There were many fantastic winners on the night, and here we’ve selected five which caught our eye.

Best Print Magazine Editorial (B2C):

Hannaford Supermarkets’ Fresh Magazine, by John Brown Media

The American Northeast grocery store chain Hannaford Supermarkets, founded in 1883 as a produce pushcart in Portland, Maine, wanted to revamp its existing Fresh Magazine, distributed in stores and bi-monthly online, as part of a store-wide rebrand. Its main objective was to find new ways to engage with existing customers, attract new audiences and provide extra value to shoppers. John Brown Media redesigned the bi-monthly magazine to include appealing, modern food photography and recipes uniquely tailored to Hannaford’s three core demographics — millennial shoppers, busy parents and traditional, loyal customers. The redesign included exclusive meal plans centered around Hannaford’s private label products and engaging content surrounding Hannaford’s many dynamic, local producers. Using an omni-channel digital strategy, John Brown Media created content such as gifs, videos and interactive flipbooks to bring the content to life. Its revamped content: magazine, website, social and email has seen a tremendous growth in customer engagement and sales lifts.

Fresh Magazine

Best Cover:

Delta Air Lines’ Delta Sky Magazine, by MSP Communications

Twitter is a strategic partner for Delta, and the objective of Delta Sky Magazine’s cover, titled “How Twitter Plans to Spread its Wings,” was two-fold: to support Twitter by portraying them as a growing global company and also increasing awareness of Delta’s presence on the social media platform. MSP-C was asked to create an impactful cover featuring Twitter that would appeal to Delta’s eHVC (Emerging High-Value Customer) — a typically younger subsection of their loyal customer base. MSP-C created a dynamic photo illustration depicting the iconic Twitter bird logo busting out from inside a smartphone. The result was a highly positive depiction of Twitter’s brand which suggests it’s heading into bold new territory. The arresting image appeals to both the energy and spirit embraced by younger customers, while also maintaining a distinct business-story sensibility for Delta’s more established and corporate-focused customers.

Delta Sky Magazine

Best Illustration/ Infographic:

American Civil Liberties Union’s STAND Magazine’s Summer 2016 Edition: Muslim and American, by MXM

Stand Magazine was launched to deepen the relationship between the ACLU and its members, with a specific goal of increasing requests for information about leaving the ACLU bequests. ACLU donors are passionate about defending individual human rights and look to the ACLU to guard them. ACLU magazine supports their passions and reflects their ardent personalities and great intellect, providing them a deeper understanding of the issues the ACLU defends. ACLU had a particular challenge trying to reach beyond the donor. They found that although the member was passionate about the brand and its causes, that the organization was isolated to just the member. The challenge was to bridge this gap and take the organization further into the family unit. STAND magazine offers a balance of content that is empowering and educative, including covering a careful mix of issues, current events, opinion, donor profiles and cultural reviews. The design blends evocative illustrations, on-trend graphic treatments and dramatic portrait, news and event photography. Every issue is designed to encourage members to continue their support of the work of the ACLU.

STAND Magazine

Best Overall Content Solution:

Pepsi + Empire Partnership, by OMD

From Michael Jackson to Beyoncé, Pepsi has been at the heart of music culture for decades. To remain relevant in consumers' lives, the brand needs to maintain that positioning. But with carbonated beverage consumption down and so many more brands playing in the music space, it’s a challenge to remain at the forefront of pop culture and connect with fans. OMD authentically aligned Pepsi, the biggest brand in pop culture, with Empire, a popular US television show. Empire, a drama grounded in music, is known for fictionalizing stories that intersect with the real world – such as turning characters within the show into real-life artists, as well as featuring real-life, chart-topping pop stars acting in character. Partnering with Showrunners, Executive Producers and Writers, OMD created a holistic, three-episode Pepsi story arc, which blended fiction and reality within the EMPIRE storyline. Over three episodes, fans watched as Jamal Lyon wrote an original song to become the star of Pepsi’s ad campaign, directed in-show and in real life by Lee Daniels. At the same time, Pepsi engaged fans outside of show with exclusive social content.

Pepsi + Empire

Best Video, Automotive and Social Media:

Volvo Trucks’ Volvo Trucks vs 750 Tons, by Spoon

Volvo Trucks launched a new version of its automated transmission gearbox – I-Shift with crawler gears in March 2016. The new gears, which were added to the automated transmission, provide exceptional start-ability for trucks carrying heavy loads in demanding situations. The system is entirely unique for series-produced heavy trucks. At the launch, Volvo Trucks claimed that a truck equipped with the new gears can start from standstill with a 325-ton load. Spoon put this to the test. It filmed Sweden’s Strongest Man, Magnus Samuelsson, driving a truck pulling a 300-meter road train weighing 750 tons in Sweden’s Gothenburg harbour. The film, targeted at truck drivers, truck owners and the wider automotive community, was released on YouTube and distributed across Volvo Truck’s social media channels between March and April 2016.

Volvo Trucks