From a tiny grain of an idea to an award-winning campaign

We’re thrilled that our ‘Sands of the Indian Ocean’ campaign, for Kuoni, has been recognised as the ‘Best use of PR in a search campaign’ at the European Search Awards 2016.

Just a few hours ago, there we were, with the great and the good from the world of SEO, wondering if the work we’d done was good enough to pick up a gong.

If you’ve ever been to an awards shindig you’ll know that you never really know. I’ve had to sit nervously on a number of occasions previously, waiting on the unknown decision of the judges, and the feeling tonight was no different.

As the MC worked his way diligently through the other categories we tried to keep our excitement at bay.

To see what started out as an unlikely and outlandish idea in a brainstorm last summer get peer recognition was a real honour. We knew our idea - of using microscopic sand to promote the diversity of Kuoni's Indian Ocean destinations (Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Seychelles, Reunion Island and the Maldives) - was strong (the results proved that) but it's always good to benchmark against other agencies you respect.

I think all of us had half formed acceptance speeches up our sleeves – all involving the dubiousness of sending bags of white powdery sand to the UK from the various Kuoni destinations in the Indian Ocean – but, had we grabbed the microphone (which we didn’t) I think we would all have wanted to pay tribute to our clients at Kuoni.

They had the faith to buy the initial idea in its rawest state. A lot of faith went into giving us permission to develop the campaign from that point. We went on to have many eclectic conversations with marine sand specialists and microscopic photography specialists. And that resulted in some visually stunning work but it all started with the spark of permission and good faith we had from our client.

It’s easy to overlook that in the glorious surge for the victory podium. The relationship between clients and agencies is a delicate one and its built on trust. No one can ever empirically know that the work will be effective or be lauded by your peers.

But sometimes you feel something in your gut about an idea and, if you can look back at the data and the insight that led to it, you have a fairly sound basis for making that edgy leap.

This leap led us to exceeding our targets for the campaign. A strong insight, guided by a strong relationship, delivered expansive coverage and strong results.

In this spirit and principle we’ve continued beyond ‘Sands of the Indian Ocean’ and have a few other campaigns that we think will trailblaze a path for the future of PR in SEO.

But for now, thank you Kuoni and all of you who fostered the campaign forward from a tiny grain of an idea to a fully grown-out, effective and award winning campaign – you know who you are - here’s sand in your eye!

By Andy McLane

05 May 2016