Executive Director of Content Strategy, People & Entertainment Weekly
November 4th ‐ Apella, New York City
The fourth annual Cynopsis Digital Model D Awards took place today at the sleek Apella event space in Kipps Bay Manhattan, overlooking the East River. Hosted by People Now’s Jeremy Parsons, the lunchtime event was a “who’s who” of digital, with great comedic relief from Parsons and guest presenters Hannah Rad, Grace Randolph and Chris Simms. In addition to honoring excellence in online video content, advertising, and talent with our Model D Awards, we celebrated the most innovative executives in digital media with the Cynopsis “It List.”
Digital Model D winners were recognized in 42 categories that spanned content, marketing, talent, tech/tools and more. A sampling of “It List” inductees included executives from Boingo Wireless, Maker Studios, NBCUniversal, Yahoo, Zenith, to name just a few. Please scroll down to view the 2016 “It List” honorees and Digital Model D Award winners and honorable mentions.
Outfit7 Limited: Colin Hanks
Golden Globe- and Emmy-nominated Colin Hanks uses his vocal range and voice talents to portray Talking Tom, the lovable mastermind of his gang of friends as they make their own show from Tom’s garage-turned-app studio. The series has emerged as a massive YouTube and app based franchise with over 4.5 billion downloads and another 5 billion-plus views since it was launched by Outfit7 over five years ago.
SapientNitro: Summer Chill
Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski of the New England Patriots and David “Big Papi” Ortiz singing about their mutual love of iced coffee was all it took to drive Dunkin Donuts iced coffee consumption this summer. Named “Summer Chill,” it became an album, complete with four music videos supported by a universe of content and advertising to help to make the campaign larger than life. Released over Dunkin’ digital channels and shared by Dunkin’, Red Sox and New England Patriots social communities , the campaign went on to gain critical praise and over 845.6 million impressions.
Crackle/Sony Pictures Television: Crackle
With a light ad load for movies and TV series, Crackle offers a clean ad experience that allows its users to binge watch without being taken out of the show. Crackle caters to its core audience with premium original content as well as genre specific channels and features the frictionless app experience “Always On,” which offers connected TV from the moment it’s launched. Crackle’s distribution on every platform from Apple TV to Xbox as well as a recent launch on Comcast, has created an efficient and easy to use product that most importantly fully respects the user’s time.
TubeMogul : Software For Brand Advertising – The Cross–Screen Dream
With the rapid rate of change in today’s media consumption, making brand advertising simple and accountable is a formidable goal. Over the past year TubeMogul’s software has done just that by breaking through barriers and enabling automated buying across all channels. In creating one platform for every device and one set of reporting, TubeMogul is allowing brands and agencies to holistically plan, buy, measure and optimize their global advertising campaigns across linear TV, video on demand, streaming video, social video.
HISTORY: Roots & 23andMe
The groundbreaking TV mini-series “Roots” began with author Alex Haley’s journey to find his identity and turned into an epic historical portrait of American slavery. The personal genetics testing company, 23andMe, successfully drove awareness and consideration for itself by aligning with the major event. It was highlighted on air by a web series of six “Know Your Roots” videos that featured raw, emotional reactions of cast members, producers and influencers using the 23andMe website to gain insight about their ancestors and understanding the cultural value of having this knowledge.
ESPN Creative Works: ESPN/Intel – Intel Curie X Games
In a partnership with the ESPN X Games, Intel was able to showcase the innovative and game changing technology of the Intel Curie. This button-sized device can be affixed to a skateboard, BMX bike or an athlete and transmit real time data and stats such as the exact speed of jumps, number of rotations, and angle of the athlete’s body in the air. Through a series of videos made by ESPN Creative Works, viewers were able to see athletes’ and experts’ reactions to the stats given by the Intel Curie during X Games events.
Viacom Velocity: Comedy Central and Redd’s Apple Ale presents CC:Social Scene
This summer, Comedy Central and Redd’s Apple Ale teamed up to launch the return of ‘CC: Social Scene’ a real-time, multi platform series that turns fan tweets into hilarious shareable videos. Inspired by fans’ sketch ideas and featuring cameo appearances from TV stars, the web series ran for a six week season. During that span it offered episodes, tune-ins and custom social content seen on-air as well as being distributed across various social media outlets and was prominently featured on Comedy Central’s Snapchat Discover channel. The campaign boasts over 21 million social impressions with more than 700,000 episodic video views.
NBA on TNT: NBA on TNT YouTube Channel
The NBA on TNT marketing team and the Turner web development and multimedia teams worked together to launch the NBA on TNT YouTube Channel as a lead-in to the NBA All Star Weekend. Taking off from there, the channel featured three produced content playlists, Best of Inside the NBA, Shaqtin’ a Fool, EJ’s Neato Stat of the Night and later added a fourth with TNT’s The Dunk King. Since its launch, the videos on its page have garnered nearly 25 million views with 55 million minutes watched as well as boasting 82,000 subscribers and counting.
The Ellen Digital Network: Ellen Digital Network: 360 Degree Video for Liberty Mutual
Looking to drive brand awareness and showcase their 24-hour Roadside Assistance service in a compelling way, Liberty Mutual Insurance partnered with the Ellen Digital Network. The result was a custom, 360 degree video featuring Ellen DeGeneres along with some of her favorite show staffers and kid stars. Using cutting edge technology, the piece allowed fans to follow five different stories involving a roadside breakdown all happening at the same time with the hero being Liberty Mutual’s 24-hour Roadside Assistance. The campaign has reached over 6 million video views and 20 million impressions across social media with coverage across the media landscape.
Disney Interactive: Star Wars Boxed & Duracell
In support of Duracell’s 2015 holiday campaign and their theatrical partnership with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney Interactive developed a content first solution to build awareness and purchase consideration for Duracell batteries. Featuring custom blogs and video content that focused on Star Wars toys, the highlight came with the video “Boxed.” Generating significant buzz, it gave an inside look at the creation of one of the toys, from design through prepackaging, mechanics and features.
Red Bull Media House: Red Bull TV
Red Bull TV gives wings to the next generation of entertainment by reinventing the traditional TV experience. Users can follow adventures to every corner of the planet, discover new music and watch live events featuring top athletes and musicians from around the world. By leveraging key digital distribution platforms, Red Bull TV offers a steadily increasing number of live events including the 2016 Season of Festivals as well as an extensive, on-demand video library including new and original programming.
The WWE Digital and Social media team of editors, producers, designers and photographers are creating content for WWE’s website and app, YouTube channel, and 250-plus social media channels for WWE and its Superstars on a daily basis. In the world of WWE, the show isn’t over once the final bell rings. With over 1.5 million subscribers worldwide, WWE’s streaming video network keeps the entertainment going with access to more than 6000 hours of content for their passionate and dedicated audience. Add this to hundreds of millions of followers across social media platforms and you have one of the hottest commodities in global entertainment.
Led by partners Zach Blume, Nate Houghteling and Kai Hasson, Portal A has become a go-to studio for branded content by top brands including YouTube, Google, Twitter, NBC Universal, Universal Pictures and more. They’ve also developed partnerships to create and sell original content and series to the likes of Disney, Esquire Network, and BBC. With efforts such as Macy’s first-ever digital music festival and introducing the world to Twitter Stickers, to establishing their annual flagship project YouTube Rewind, the work of Portal A has been viewed nearly one billion times.
A+E Networks: A+E Networks Digital Media Group
The A+E Networks Digital Media group is constantly moving the industry forward with initiatives on every platform, such as first-to-market TV Everywhere apps, hugely popular social and mobile games, award-winning apps featuring custom content, and seamless social media integration. Their TVE apps have driven over 300 million video views while their network websites garner another 30 million unique visitors a month. Recently they’ve launched Asterisk, a new brand that explores culture through the lens of history, and Vessel, a premium video service that gives fans early access to short-form videos from their favorite networks and video creators.
Adobe: Adobe Primetime
Adobe Primetime is a multi-screen TV platform that TV networks and pay-TV providers can utilize to deliver and monetize personalized TV and film experiences across digital touch points. In 2016 Adobe announced an end-to-end offering with Adobe Primetime that delivers more personalized TV and ad experience directly to consumers via mobile and connected devices. Primetime is now helping media companies address critical industry challenges including building an audience, engaging audiences, monetizing audiences, and measuring audience impact.
Turner Sports: Shaq in Shaqtin’ a Fool
Each week on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” the top 5 NBA blunders of the week are presented in the popular segment “Shaqtin’a Fool” hosted by Shaquille O’Neal. The funny moments and plays featured on “Shaqtin’” are completely crowd-sourced as Shaq encourages fans to use the hashtag #Shaqtin every time they see something worthy. Last season was the segment’s strongest with 10.7 million video views on NBA.com, over 200 million impressions on social media, and the #Shaqtin hashtag being the most-used hashtag associated with any Turner property.
Ayzenberg Group, EPIX and WIREWAX: Berlin Station Interactive 360–Degree Experience
Commissioned by EPIX, the Ayzenberg Group set out to create an immersive 360-degree digital experience for the original television series “Berlin Station.” Working directly with show creators, their team built a multi-layered experience using unique and cutting edge storytelling techniques to engage fans before, during and after the show. For BerlinStation.com they used connected video technology and built a site that fully supports 360-degree playback across devices and attached interactive tags and hotpots on moving people and objects in a 3D environment creating a fully immersive experience.
Red Bull TV: Season of Festivals
Featured on Red Bull TV, “Season of Festivals” brings more than 18 days of live programming, 800 acts and 400 hours of live music together in one place. From June to October, hosts Sal Maskela and Hanna Rad traverse the globe taking viewers to Spain, Denmark, the UK and across the United States to live stream six of the world’s most celebrated music festivals featuring performances from music icons such as Radiohead and LCD Soundsystem, to emerging acts like Aurora and FIDLAR. Bonus features offer musician profiles and inside looks at the unique culture and influences of the city where festivals are hosted.
iStrategy Labs and USA Network: Mr. Robot Global Rants + Pre–Linear
Ahead of the Season 2.0 premiere of USA Network’s “Mr. Robot”, USA, ISL and VaynerMedia had fictional group fsociety “hack” the Mr. Robot Facebook page for 24 hours on July 7, broadcasting 11 customized “global rants” via Facebook Live. The stunt garnered 20 million social media impressions worldwide.
WWE: WWE on YouTube
WWE’s YouTube channel has become one of the platform’s most popular entertainment channels – boasting more than 12.3 million subscribers – thanks to a curated collection of action, comedy, variety and sport-entertainment history.
Red Bull Media House: Red Bull TV App
Red Bull strives to be an industry leader by reaching a larger number of users across a wider geography than ever before. Available on all major mobile device platforms, the Red Bull TV App offers a multi-platform digital experience that features inspirational and entertaining programming beyond the ordinary – anytime and anywhere.
Univision Communications Inc.: La Banda
Univision set out to enhance the viewing experience for La Banda’s audience with a variety of cross-platform initiatives that leveraged Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Twitter and YouTube to engage their digitally-savvy audience, both while fans were watching live and for continued fan engagement between episodes. As a result, La Banda had the #1 most mentioned TV series handle, and had the most mentioned series hashtag and reality program on YouTube.
iStrategy Labs and USA Network: Mr. Robot Global Rants + Pre–Linear
To amplify awareness of the season 2 launch of USA Network’s “Mr. Robot”, USA, ISL and VaynerMedia launched a social media campaign using unconventional outreach. On July 7th, the fictional group fsociety “hacked” the Mr. Robot Facebook page for 24 hours. This was followed by a Facebook live streamed Q&A panel with the Mr. Robot cast on July 10th, in which Part One of the Season 2.0 premiere was made available for 3 hours and fetched over 750,000 video views and generated 15 million total impressions as well as strong anticipation for the broadcast premiere.
DEFY Media: ScreenJunkies Plus
As the go-to destination for celebrating TV and Film for franchise nerds and casual fans alike, ScreenJunkies recognized the opportunity to give hungry fans even more by launching ScreenJunkies Plus. By marrying quality content with quality technological infrastructure, the subscription based service offers space for entertainment fans to geek out, debate, and enjoy coverage, comedy events, and original series across all of gaming, television and movies. With Plus, ScreenJunkies created an entertainment destination that more and more TV and film enthusiasts are discovering every day.
Bravo Digital Media: Going Off the Menu
Capitalizing on the popularity of food and lifestyle content with its digital audience, Bravo created its first ever standalone digital series with “Going Off the Menu.” The six-episode series followed James Beard, Award-Winning food documentarian Liza De Guia and Michelin-Rated chef Russell Jackson as they tracked down L.A.’s most underground and exclusive foodie experiences. Featuring a promotional campaign that drove awareness from the social sphere, the series surpassed all expectations.
MTV: Pants Off
MTV Pants Off is a Snapchat-first show about sex and relationships hosted by Laci Green, the millennial YouTube guru of sex ed. Every episode tackled a specific aspect of sex – whether it was personal relationships or a sex act – to give real information and advice to young people who don’t have access to informative sex ed. With a combination of entertainment and sex positive knowledge, the show broke MTV records with 3 to 5 million views per episode.
NCAA Digital: NCAA.com Kris Jenkins’ Shot – Social Reaction
Hours after Kris Jenkins’ historic buzzer-beater won Villanova a championship, NCAA.com sought to capture how fans experienced arguably the greatest shot in March Madness history. Reactions from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were compiled to create a video that allowed viewers to experience “The Shot” in a unique way. With the help of two producers, a single editor created the video that captured the ecstatic thrill of victory as well as the crushing agony of defeat. The video was NCAA.com’s highest performing custom video from its tournament coverage.
RLJ Entertainment: Acorn TV
Acorn TV is the first British TV focused streaming service in North America and the premier SVOD service for television from Britain and beyond. The service curates the very best in international TV and offers U.S. fans the opportunity to not only stream their favorite international series, but discover new and classic programs previously unavailable to U.S. audiences. Over the past year, Acorn TV has really taken off, doubling its subscriber base and receiving a laundry list of accolades and critical praise.
Viacom Velocity: The Fantastic Kit with Zach King
Viacom Velocity teamed up with social influencer and Vine star, Zach King, to create a superpowered promotional campaign around the release of 20th Century Fox’s “Fantastic Four.” Zach is famous for his “magic vines,” such as turning marshmallow peeps into live birds or jumping into a moving vehicle with ease, but that paled in comparison to what he was able to do after discovering a Fantastic Four DIY Kit at his doorstep. Imbued with the powers of the film’s ensemble, each vignette featured the trademark illusions Zach has become famous for in his Vines through an extended narrative, all the while driving awareness for the film’s August release.
NBA.com: Shaqtin’ a Fool
Each week on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” Shaquille O’Neal presents the top 5 NBA blunders of the week in “Shaqtin’ a Fool”. After revealing the top 5 mishaps, it’s then up to the fans to decide which nominee is the worst by going to NBA.com/fool, which hosts the companion video for the segment along with several interactive features including the voting poll. This not only determines the weekly winners, but also tabulates the season-long voting for the least coveted award in sports – the annual “Shaqtin’ a Fool MVP.”
Red Bull Media House: Urbex
In 2016, Red Bull and Red Bull TV ramped up experimentation with 360 and Virtual Reality video formats within YouTube and Facebook to support events and series that air and premier on Red Bull TV. The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, with viewers demanding more mind-bending content. A prime example is Red Bull TV’s original series, URBEX, where the audience meets the show’s characters through a vertigo-inducing urban exploration in virtual reality.
USA Network: Mr. Robot Virtual Reality Experience
With the goal of creating a true cinematic-quality, narrative storytelling experience in which the story and the virtual reality medium work together to enhance each other, USA Network engaged Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail to write and direct a story specifically for the medium, starring series leads Rami Malek and Frankie Shaw. Telling the story of their first date in 360 degrees, Esmail came up with a narrative that allowed the medium to take the story to the next level and evoke emotions in the viewer in ways that traditional/linear video could not have done.
USA Network: Mr. Robot Virtual Reality Simulcast
“Mr. Robot,” a show that challenges its viewers’ perception of reality and examines how technology is used in today’s society, explores these concepts even further with the launch of the Mr. Robot virtual reality experience. Written and directed by show creator Sam Esmail, and produced in conjunction with Here Be Dragons, the 12-minute piece stars Rami Malek in his Emmy nominated role as Elliot Anderson. Exploring a memory from Elliot’s past in 360 degree video, it allows users to perceive the world as Elliot sees it while offering a glimpse into his back story. The immersive narrative authentically captures the tone and sensibilities of the series while bringing the world of “Mr. Robot” to life in a new medium.
Campfire at SapientNitro: Outcast Interactive Trailer: “Possession Begins”
To promote the premiere of Cinemax’s new show, “Outcast,” a video was created that exploited the most powerful effects engine of all: the imagination. Using cutting edge eye tracking technology, “Possession Begins” is an interactive trailer controlled by the user’s eyes through their webcam. Prompted to wear headphones and close their eyes, the user is immersed in the virtual audio story of their possession by a terrifying demon. If they open their eyes to escape they are then bombarded with visuals, as the webcam technology will trigger one of ten intense video montages created from show footage. Truly innovative and truly terrifying, the campaign generated over 68 million original impressions in less than a month.
Food Network: Square Deviled Eggs
Sometimes, simple is best. A straightforward video that offers a step-by-step visual recipe for a new and easy take on creamy deviled eggs has been viewed more than 28.4 million times on Facebook and shared more than 610,000 times, with an additional 76,000 plays on Food Network’s website since March 2016.
AMC: Fear The Walking Dead: “Flight 462”
AMC leveraged its original programming prowess to deliver the Emmy-nominated web series that would drive engagement between seasons of the linear broadcast of “Fear the Walking Dead.” Created by Dave Erickson and David Wiener, the story provides a fly on the wall perspective of a group of passengers aboard a commercial airplane during the earliest moments of a zombie outbreak, as they deal with one of their own becoming infected at 30,000 feet above ground.
World of Wonder Productions: Untucked: RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8
Untucked, the companion digital show for the hit Logo TV series “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” shows an intimate and personal side of the contestants by capturing the best backstage footage. More than 385,000 viewers tune in weekly to see what happens behind the scenes, making Untucked one of World of Wonder’s most popular online series.
WWE: WWE on YouTube
A worldwide fan base can catch up on match highlights and enjoy original content and series from favorite WWE Superstars, as well as access monthly pay-per-view kickoff shows with free in-ring action, exclusive interviews and social interaction surrounding the night’s events. The fan-centered programming has made WWE on YouTube one the platform’s most viewed and most subscribed to entertainment channels.
Boingo Media: Boingo Wireless
In an industry that faces the rise of ad blocking and transparency concerns, Boingo’s team focuses its client work on innovative strategies that are centered around a captive portal where a consumer can’t access the Internet without watching a sponsored message first. Boingo has created a secret sauce for ensuring people will talk about a brand. Led by advertising visionary Dawn Callahan and digital media veteran Jon Landa, the team recently worked with HBO, Netflix, and Hulu on three separate campaigns that unleashed the power of branded entertainment and video among captive audiences to acquire new streaming subscribers.
Co-founded in 2013 by Alan Cohen, Trevor Guthrie, Jon Haber, and Marc Simons, Giant Spoon is a strategy and marketing innovation company that uses cultural intelligence to connect brands to consumers. Designing programs at the place where content, media, and innovation collide, the agency focuses on breakthrough ideas that allow brands to come to life everywhere. The agency’s core belief is that strategy needs to lead to big ideas. Its work for clients includes Amazon Studios, GE, HP, Lego, NBC Entertainment, STX Entertainment and Old Navy.
Executive Director of Content Strategy, People & Entertainment Weekly
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