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The Dominance of Hashtags in Creative Campaigns

Gabriela Lungu has a truly diverse background that spans advertising, PR and social media. She has worked at TBWA\London, Ogilvy and Weber Shandwick, sat on the D&AD Direct Jury and run her own firm, The Practice. 

In the article below Gabriela reflects on the dominance of hashtags in creative campaigns in the current climate. She analyses where this leaves Direct, and argues that it is perhaps the most powerful of disciplines.

Gabriela Lungu D&AD Judge

Every time I’m working on a new concept or a creative platform for my clients, I’m thinking of what should be the #hashtag. What will people share? What will they use when they respond to my client’s campaign by discussing it or – if I’m really lucky – even contributing to it in some relevant way?

The #hashtag has become such an important part of communications today. It is simply the most basic mechanism producing measurable response. Do one clever billboard (or video, or… insert preferred channel here) and write a #hashtag on it – suddenly, it’s not just OUTDOOR (or FILM) anymore! It now has an implicit call to action with an embedded response-tracking tool, so the billboard/video becomes… DIRECT; it enters the social space so it becomes DIGITAL, it then earns media so it becomes PR.

Hey, the #hashtag can sometimes help turn a single-execution idea into a full blown INTEGRATED campaign!

So in today’s world, where we can attach a #hashtag to pretty much any good idea and quite legitimately say that we have a response-driven ad, what is actually true Direct? And more, what is exceptionally creative, worthy-of-a-Pencil Direct?

#Likeagirl Hashtag Campaigns

Over the past years, Direct has become a place to show off technologies. So I hope we’re going to be once again blown away not just by the creativity of concepts, but also by genuine innovation, inventions, sophisticated new technologies driving up response in ways that seem so natural and simple. And I know we’ll get to see many of these new technologies put to truly good use, in campaigns with higher purpose and social impact. 

What kind of work needs to be entered? Brilliant insights, ingenious use of data, very personalized ways of reaching niche audiences, and new mechanisms to lower the cost of engagement like never before.

We're talking D&AD Professional Awards, but it seems needless to say that, in Direct as well, we’re counting on brilliant concepts, beautifully crafted. I was damn-I-wish-I-did-that jealous when I first saw Airbnb's that 3D replica of Van Gogh’s famous 'Bedroom' painting, recreated down to the water pitcher, the bed and furniture all meticulously rendered, brush stroke by brush stoke. For the first time ever, The Art Institute of Chicago brought Van Gogh's three “Bedroom” paintings together in one exhibit.

Leo Burnett Van Gogh Bedroom Airbnb Campaign
Leo Burnett's Van Gogh Bedroom

To announce it, Leo Burnett brought a painting to life also for the first time ever and, with Airbnb support, asked people to live inside. As one working in another agency for the Airbnb account recently, I can’t tell you how much I applaud the creatives who came up with that idea. Make us jealous, people. From big ideas that capture audience’s imagination, to simple little tricks making people do things, bring it on!

But, in the end, nothing matters more than to see that great insights, ideas, craft and technology have worked – and, gosh, how much I want to see that. This is advertising, where creativity is deeply linked with effectiveness. Moreover, this is Direct, where maybe more than in any other category, nothing matters more than the right response.

When you win in Direct, you demonstrate not just brilliance in creativity and craft, but perhaps most crucially, that you can convert your brilliant creativity & craft into meaningful response in the pursuit of concrete results. 

If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Professional Awards and see if our judges agree. When it comes to awards, nothing matters more.

For more creative inspiration and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the world’s best design and advertising, join us at D&AD Festival.
 

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