Rappler bags triple win in Singapore Spark awards

Meryll Yan

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Rappler bags triple win in Singapore Spark awards
Rappler's #WHIPIT campaign beats social media titans Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn in the Best Media Solution – Social Media category, and bags double bronze awards for Best Content Team and Best Media Solution – Online

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Rappler, the Philippines’ only social media news site, lived up to its name by winning on Thursday, August 28, the gold Spark award for Best Media Solution – Social Media. The awards gala was held at the new Westin Hotel in Singapore. 

Launched by Marketing magazine, the Spark Awards for Media Excellence “assess media owners based on their compelling content, innovative solutions, products effectiveness and standout team performances.” 

The gold award for Best Media Solution – Social Media recognizes the most creative, innovative and/or effective social media campaigns/solutions from a media owner for its client/s to engage their audience and drive commercial value for them. 

Rappler also won the bronze award for Best Content Team, which recognizes the outstanding team with the ability to innovate and create powerful content based on audience and client needs; and the bronze for Best Media Solution – Online, recognizing the most creative, innovative and/or effective online campaigns/solutions from a media owner for its client/s to engage their audience and drive commercial value for them. 

GENDER INEQUALITY. Research was first conducted to generate the insights for the #WhipIt campaign.

“It was our goal to change the game in an industry that was driven by traditional ads and we did this through the power of content. Rappler builds relevant stories and content campaigns that serve to engage our audience and drive optimum social reach while achieving brand objectives across different industries,” said Carla Yap-Sy Su, Head of Sales and Marketing for Rappler.

Rappler was the only Philippine company among the winners of the Best Content Team. 

“The days of ads as interruptions are numbered,” said Rappler’s Maria Ressa. “We draw a line between our ad sales content creation team and our editorial team. Aligned with the best practices of journalism, our sales content is clearly labelled. Working with brands, our sales team gives you information you want and need.” 

The making of #WHIPIT

Barely two years old at the time, Rappler collaborated with leading haircare brand Pantene to launch #WHIPIT, a fully multi-platform campaign that challenged women’s labels. The team began ideating on the project August 2013 for a November 2013 launch date, with an ad created by BBDO Guerrero.

REAL. Women from various background participated in the winning #WhipIt Campaign

For the campaign to have legs, research was mounted by Rappler. The findings, some of which were surprising, were then used as callouts for the campaign. Yap-Sy Su explained, “It was important for us to define what #WHIPIT means to the modern woman and for Rappler to take a stand and come in strong for #WHIPIT to spark a movement. Each content piece was built to inspire and empower women across different facets of their lives and to provoke a response for women to act and stand up against labels.” 

Libay Cantor was the media and gender consultant for this project. She confessed, “It was a tricky yet exciting challenge to bring forth human right-based awareness in a branded commercial campaign. We had to appear fun and insightful without being didactic or prescriptive.” 

Tipping point

A live forum was conducted on November 26, 2013 and the results speak for themselves. The hashtag #WHIPIT trended nationally, reaching 12.5 million Twitter accounts. It also generated 140 million impressions within a few hours.

That social media conversation rippled globally: helping trigger more conversations on social media, more articles on traditional media, pushing P&G to take the campaign to the West.

#WHIPIT FORUM. Mere hours after the forum, more than 140 million impressions were already generated and the hashtag trended nationally.

True to integrated marketing best practices, the relationship with client proved to be a key success factor. Jenny Chua, senior account director, said, “Pantene made a really bold move when they pursued this campaign. It was outside a consumer brand’s comfort zone when they tackled real issues of women. They were clear on what they wanted to achieve since Day 1 and it was to push women to shine boldly in whatever they do by debunking labels attached to them. And that made our content very focused and actionable.” 

The campaign ventured into territory that most shampoo brands wouldn’t dare enter. It featured women who were outside of the media norm – including a blind girl, a civil servant, single moms and artists. 

WOMEN AT WORK. The #WhipIt campaign also broke out of the norm to feature a policewoman, street vendors and single moms.

Adrianna Mejia, a multimedia writer who also worked on the campaign said, “Being able to tell the stories of women from different backgrounds was empowering. The campaign gave women a new opportunity to speak up and be proud of who they are despite the labels they were given by society.”

Higher sights

And the best part of winning? Further validation for the startup team that only intends to continue this disruptive, collaborative and innovative trajectory. Krista Garcia, multimedia writer behind most of the campaign said, “It’s a breakthrough for the young team and it was very fortunate that Pantene was very supportive of how we worked with the initial idea.” 

WINNING MOMENT. Rappler board member James Bitanga proudly says, "We can play ball with the big kids."

James Bitanga, Rappler board member, received the awards on behalf of the team. He recounted, “The atmosphere at the Spark Awards was vibrant, loud, and exciting. Attendees were proudly wearing their brands on their sleeves, sometimes literally (e.g. Facebook pins, Hootsuite masks). Although last night was the inaugural event, the overall vibe and anticipation for recognition made it feel like this has been going on for years. It was a great honor to share the stage with an amazing range of global and regional industry players – from established traditional network and print giants to global social media pioneers and booming digital media startups all making their mark in Southeast Asia. It was clear that Rappler fit right in this hodgepodge of organizations.” 

WORK IT. As a followup to the campaign, another forum was conducted in March 2014, this time zoning in on women's careers and job security.

Soren Beaulieu, publisher of Marketing magazine, summed it up best, “A trophy won at The SparkAwards is a powerful indicator of the organization being a trustworthy and effective partner in the region. Finally, media owners will have the chance to showcase their value proposition and strength to the industry.”

Bitanga said, “The highlight of the night for me was when Rappler’s #WHIPIT campaign beat social media titans Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to nab the gold under the Best Media Solution – Social Media award. To be voted the best social media campaign by a panel of highly distinguished media executives is a bonus to the already impressive noise that #WHIPIT has made in fostering real conversations of women empowerment since its launch. As the newbie on the block holding hands with a powerful brand in Pantene while navigating through the neighborhood created by the likes of Facebook and Twitter, this award affirms that Rappler can play ball with the big kids.”

SPARK AWARDS. Vying against bigwigs like Facebook and Linkedin and other media outlets in Southeast Asia, Rappler emerged victorious with one gold and two bronzes

As digital and social media continue to change people’s behavior, the challenge to produce cut-through campaigns has become more paramount. The Pantene #WHIPIT campaign exhibits how both marketing and media can work hand in hand to ripple out a message that has not just commercial, but civic ends as well. 

The Spark Awards celebrates best practices in media solutions, products and services. It is the premier platform for media owners to showcase their innovation, effectiveness, and value proposition to advertisers, agencies and clients. – Rappler.com

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