Digital content is fuelling consumers in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic. Artists, brands, and entertainers are creatively engaging with homebound consumers to inject moments of joy into days filled with angst and uncertainty. With content creators getting inventive to lift spirits, boost connectivity, and drive marketing messages, the 15th Annual w3 Awards that illuminate brilliance in digital experiences, content, and creativity is now open for entries. Winners will be announced in October.
The w3 Awards – judged and curated by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA) – has a different look and feel as it celebrates its milestone anniversary. Under the direction of Eva McCloskey, AIVA’s recently appointed managing director, the w3 reboot injects some new moxie into the awards that seeks out and celebrates emerging digital talent across the globe. Illuminating brilliance by honouring the people who use technology to make a real impact in the world is among w3’s ambitions. So is elevating the unsung heroes of digital design and becoming a vital awards body full of humanity and revere for powerful, effective digital design and marketing.
“Consumption of web content is soaring with consumers glued to screens while they navigate the pandemic,” said Eva, an industry veteran who has held senior roles at companies including co: collective, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, and The Barbarian Group. Since she joined AIVA in October of 2019, Eva has focused on finding ways to infuse the legacy contest with gravitas and create a supportive community that highlights the digital innovators behind campaigns and activations throughout the year. That involves adding over 100 new judges with exceptional creative pedigrees.
Founded in 2006 to honour websites and digital marketing, the program has evolved over the last decade to recognise the expanding landscape and importance of digital in the world, adding additional categories in video, social, and mobile. But while w3 counted some of the world’s most prominent brands and agencies as participants, it was failing to recognise the new guard of content creators defining the new era in digital.
To help reimagine the w3 Awards, Eva tapped award-winning designer Graham Clifford, who worked at some of the most iconic creative agencies on major brands across categories before opening Graham Clifford Design in 1993. His brand strategy and identity exercise helped to get to the heart of the w3 Awards, unveil its real purpose, and set the course forward.
“w3’s role in the creative awards industry is critical,” said Graham. “As a launch pad for the careers of many digital creatives, it’s an honour to be a part of elevating w3’s brand power to recognise an even wider universe of stellar digital talent.”
Giving a face to digital innovators and driving recognition for ideas and effectiveness in digital creativity are increased priorities for the w3 Awards. So is casting a wider net to attract more digital creators, up their profiles, and help create a more personal, interactive awards ecosystem.
“Everyday heroes are rightly getting moments of recognition during Covid-19,” said Eva. “The frontline creators of content and sites that are keeping communities connected and entertained deserve accolades as well, and w3 is setting a bigger digital stage to honour their excellence. It’s the perfect time to celebrate digital innovators driving ideas and effectiveness.”
The revamped w3 site designed under Eva’s purview is more visually arresting and aims to boost submissions and garner fame for digital creators year-round. Adding cache to the contest and creating an ecosystem where judges and creators regularly engage are top priorities. In addition to adding a new podcast category this year, there’s also expanded entries in the branded content, video, and social categories to ensure that cutting-edge ideas have a place at the w3 table.
“With digital no longer the ugly stepchild in the marketing matrix, we’re giving it the spotlight it rightly deserves,” said Eva. “We believe in creative warriors and vitality. We believe in disruptors. There’s going to be a sense of engagement everywhere in the w3 community.”
AIVA, which has 800 members across the globe, also runs The Communicator Awards that honour excellence in marketing and communications and the Davey Awards that honour the best small shops worldwide. Judging for all contests is considered a privilege of invitation only AIVA membership.
Among the top-tier jurors who recently joined AIVA are Anne Hjortshøj, director of user experience at CarGurus; Jesse Schifano, designer at Spotify; Liz Young, founder and CEO of StudioLabs; Laura Schaack, VP of strategy at Majestyk; and Luke Perkins, creative director at Vacasa.
The early entry deadline for w3 Awards is June 19th, 2020 and submissions close July 31st, 2020.
“People are the heart and soul of w3 and the digital universe,” added Eva. “Boosting careers, better connecting veterans and newbies, and putting faces to the work will surely increase the relevance of the w3 Awards. In these crazy Covid-19 times, every nod to excellence across disciplines matters. This is our salute to creativity.”