4 award-winning social campaigns to learn from

The Shorty Awards: your new brainstorm inspo

4 Award-winning social campaigns to learn from

The Shorty Awards are one of my favorite celebrations of social media for one major reason: they require case studies to enter. That means hundreds upon hundreds of brands & agencies write explainers or case study videos to explain why they deserve to win, all of which are public on The Shorty Awards’ site.

I gathered a few of my favorites + added my own analysis to get your brain juice going.

Smile Movie: winning big with a simple idea

I swear, every time I looked up at the Shorties, I had to see that terrifying smile as Paramount Pictures + their agency partners walked on stage to grab another award. Here, experience the creepiness with me again via their case study video.

They absolutely cleaned up at the awards show—check this hardware list.

  • Winner: Meme & GIFs, Emojis

  • Finalist: Global Campaign

  • Silver: Multi-platform campaign

  • Audience Honor: Emojis

  • Nominee: Filter/Lens

Most importantly, it drove ticket sales. Smile was the #1 movie for two straight weeks, going on to earn $200 million worldwide.

You know what I really love about the Smile campaign? It’s simple. They didn’t try to get high brow or overthink it—they just owned an insanely-weird smile and threw it at as many touchpoints as possible via creative placements. Sure, they had some budget, but it’s a great example of why having a core concept with a strong creative takeaway is so essential in social.

Spider-Man: owning the meme

Surely you’ve seen the Spider-Man pointing meme. It’s an internet favorite, used quite literally to show when two similar people meet or have the same idea—a perfect fit for the last Spider-Man film’s big reveal.

Tom Holland is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Spider-Man, but us millennials remember when Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield donned the red spandex. Now that the MCU’s deep into the multiverse, Spider-Man: No Way Home plot line could bring back the former Spideys for an unreal team-up (and the best film in this new Marvel era, imo).

What better way to highlight the Spider-Men together than recreating the meme?

The trio recreated the photo, then let Tom Holland toss it on his Instagram first. The pic went mega viral—at 25 million likes, it’s the 20th most-liked post in Instagram history. 2.2 billion impressions—billion with a b. Dropping it to promote at-home sales helped make No Way Home the #1 digital home entertainment release of all-time.

Looney Tunes: getting entertainment IP on TikTok

I will shout this one from the mountaintops: every TV show, film, and documentary should be on TikTok. You can earn huge organic reach by simply throwing your most iconic scenes on the platform, and if you’re willing to do a little editing, huge followings will follow.

Take Looney Tunes. They wisely went through that back catalog to post untouched fan-favorites, but they made TikTokish edits to other scenes for extra lulz. Great example: their first viral TikTok.


who wants a strip? 🥓 #looneytunes #daffyduck #porkypig #bacon

That’s an awfully naughty punchline for the Tunes, but TikTokers ate it up for 3.6 million views. I wrote up a longer analysis of all their tactical edits over on my LinkedIn, including their compilation strategy, on-screen text approach, and more.

AT&T: actually authentic influencer marketing

Proud papa, here—this next one’s my campaign! The First 500 was my final project as a Sr. Creative Strategist at Twitch, just before I moved on to this whole full-time writer thing. And we won a Gold honor at The Shorty Awards!

When AT&T came to Twitch seeking gamers + hopeful creators, I pitched an idea that’d take successful streamers back to their early days. I wanted to remind gamers that we all start somewhere—that Twitch’s biggest creators spent manyyyy hours experimenting & learning on the fly to become players we know and love.

My concept: The First 500. When a gamer dips their toe into streaming, the first official milestone is Affiliate status. You’ve gotta stream 500 minutes on Twitch to become eligible, so I pitched a live rewatch, where creators would share their early content with their current audiences, reminiscing & laughing about how they got started, the mistakes they made, and how far they’ve come.

I’ll let you watch the video to get the full story, but what I want you to take away: if you’re partnering with a Creator or specific platform like Twitch, you gotta let them be themselves. Finding clever ways to weave your brand/product into a Creator’s story shows you actually understand said streamer, perking up the audience’s ears. Credit to AT&T + their agency, Hearts & Sciences—the execution is almost 100% of what I originally pitched, which never happens.

Also, special shout out to the Twitch Brand Partnership Studio. One of my favorite jobs, with an incredibly kind & smart time. They absolutely nailed the execution on this one.