Amplify Festival Creative Challenge


Erica Hungerford, Senior Account Manager for Presto, Dentsu Aegis Network talks about her experience as part of the Marketing Society Scotland's Clients vs Agencies Creative Challenge at this years Amplify Festival.

At the end of August, I had the opportunity to participate in The Marketing Society’s Amplify Festival and represent DAN in the Clients vs Agencies Creative Challenge. This amazing event brought people from a variety of agencies and brands together to compete in a “pitch-off” of sorts and go head to head for the prize.

The Creative Challenge is one of many events at the Amplify Marketing Festival held each year in late summer to promote the value of marketing and creativity at the world’s biggest arts event, The Edinburgh Festival. By holding this event and other, The Marketing Society strives to empower brave leaders, inspire members, and promote Scotland as a top location for studying, working, and investing in marketing talent.

Typically held in-person, The Marketing Society expertly managed to transition the event into a virtual one while keeping the same fun and intensity of face-to-face debate. This year, the teams were composed of top talent from different agencies and brands in Scotland.

Our task was simple: pick one from a list of truly inspirational and recent marketing campaigns, pitch it within 2 minutes, and win your round. As a sports fan, I was pleased to be able to choose from the Sports category, but my competition was tough since I was pitted against Marina McIver from Scottish Enterprise. I knew my selected campaign of “Hulu Sellouts” would be a crowd pleaser because it is clever, head-turning, and cheeky.

We were asked to interrogate if the campaign idea is leading, innovative and original in addition to how well it was planned and executed. Ultimately, it needed to be effective as well and drive real results. The Hulu Sellouts campaign did it all. In 2018, Hulu was outpacing Netflix in growth and therefore wanted to double-down on their marketing push for their live TV streaming product. Essentially, Hulu did a 180 on influencer marketing campaigns by being absolutely bluntly honest to their audience and let their heavily paid NBA and Soccer stars simply say to their mass social media followings “Hulu as live sports” near a huge pile of cash. With such a risk, the creative needed to be meta, cheeky and nail-it on humour. The campaign resulted in 59 million earned media impressions in the first six weeks and drove 2x YoY subscriber growth. In my opinion, it was an easy argument for my pitch in the Creative Challenge to sell that the campaign caught attention, differentiated, and reinforced Hulu’s new product - ultimately starting a lively conversation for positive brand engagement. Plus, I figured an on-point virtual background couldn’t hurt my case.

To amp up our team, our captain Jane played the Rocky theme tune as we were counted down into showtime. Round after round the team members gave solid pitches and really sold why their selected campaign was brave, risky, and ultimately inspiring. From chicken bath-bombs to little girls with potty-mouths, there were pitches that were laugh-out-loud funny, while others pulled at people’s heart strings. In particular, Steve Johnstone’s chosen campaign in which an infamous Brazilian millionaire received a wave of negative press after he publicly declared to bury his expensive Bentley in a grave to ultimately bring attention to organ donation was a twist that surprised us all.

Virtual backgrounds as well as props (including a hot pizza) showed that every participant was 100% behind their campaign. While I managed to be one of the two wins for the agency team, it was ultimately the client team that succeeding with 3 out of 5 round wins. It was a well-deserved win and a well applauded effort by everyone involved.

During times when we are so separated physically, the Amplify Festival can be looked to as a prime example of how to bring people from the advertising industry together to make new connections, celebrate creativity in Scotland and some of the great work that goes on not only throughout the world but on our own shores. I don’t think any of us expected to have as much fun as we did leading up to and during the challenge.

You can watch the full session and the rest of the 2020 Amplify Festival here.

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