What Does it Take to Win a Webby? Our Judges Respond
We spoke with our Executive Judges to find out and see what the 2023 Webby Winners are signaling about the future of the Internet.
The scores are in. A huge congratulations to the 2023 Webby Winners, as they represent sheer Internet ingenuity. They pushed digital experiences to new heights. With new functionalities, interfaces, and iterations, this class of digital creatives is heralding an expansive era for the Internet—one without limits but with endless possibilities of what it can be. We were blown away by the impressive level of talent. But what does it take to make Webby-recognized work? To discover the elements of Webby success, we spoke with our Executive Judges to explore their thoughts on the winning projects. Here’s what they had to say.
Delve into the work of the 2023 Webby Winners in the Winners Gallery + Index. And mark your calendars—all Winners will be celebrated at the star-studded 27th Annual Webby Awards Show on May 15, hosted by Roy Wood Jr.! Follow @TheWebbyAwards across Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube to catch all the night’s best moments.
We Asked Webby Judges Their Thoughts on the 2023 Webby Winners
Here's what they had to say.
Kieran Donahue, CMO, IHOP
“The 2022 Webby’s represented a collection of creative talent that leaned into imagination and possibility. Across many different award categories it was inspiring to see the focus on diversity and inclusion and the environment. Brands and agencies took risks and told relevant stories using new formats like the metaverse in truly imaginative ways and also took on real life challenges. An example is WWF in which not only could you enter the world of an endangered species but you could leverage NFT’s to help clean up the oceans in real life. The 2022 Webby entries furthered my belief in the positive power brands can have on our collective future.”
Daniel Arenas, EVP Head of Design, Publicis New York
“For me, the real question about the Metaverse should be: How does it feel to be fully submerged inside a brand world? This framing helps expand the notion of how brands should move, sound, behave, and interact, and it adds freedom to how a brand tells a story in a nonlinear, multifaceted way. We are entering an exciting era where visual identities evolve into more complex and rich behavior-based sandboxes.
Having said that, I know it’s a long road ahead for this medium. It will take time, but it does remind me of the nascent days of Flash and how some of the behaviors, interactions, and design codes from that era have stuck around cementing our current understanding of the web.”
Dina Fierro, SVP of web3/Metaverse Group, Shiseido Americas
“In many ways, the Metaverse – real-time, interactive and immersive – represents a natural and inevitable evolution of the online experience. While the space is emergent, its potential is inarguable and it’s exciting to see world-class brands and talent experimenting successfully across platforms, through highly engaging live events as well as branded experiences. What matters most now is building with authenticity – with a laser focus on experience, reciprocal value and real utility.”
NJ Falk, Managing Partner, APL
“It is well known that Gen Z feels as if they are the most isolated and lonely generation. This year’s entrants tapped into this zeitgeist through heightened social engagement in all its forms to deliver messaging and experiences that literally surrounded them in highly personal and communal forms. Brands and individuals deliberately tapped into the need for authenticity to bring Gen Z back together in a post pandemic love fest—including showcasing major experiential events in often incredibly joyous ways. Using music, humor, positive role models, freedom of expression and greater understanding of different kinds of people and values as well as explorations into climate-consciousness and radical exclusivity to dispel stereotypes and forms of prejudice through educational and social platforms, it turned out to be the year of connection via positive engagement.”
Jed Hallam, Global head of Strategy, Arcadia, Snap
“It’s always an incredible privilege to review some of the best work in the world – and what was particularly inspiring in what I saw this year was the depth to which the work was rooted in genuine insight around Gen Z and Gen Alpha attitudes, behaviours, and beliefs. When ideas are built on a solid foundation of human insight, not only does it better connect with people, but it can affect change, contribute to culture, and inspire action too.”
“A healthy digital technology system is one that prioritizes trustworthiness, ethical frameworks, new norms, and greater transparency, and I was inspired to learn about many innovators who are embedding pro-social values to shape the future of our tech system. Many of this year’s Webby’s nominees share our belief that we must lead by first defining the kind of society we want, and then asking how digital tech helps get us there.”
Tim Weers, Founder/Managing Director, Build in Amsterdam
“As Gen Z becomes more prominent as consumers, brands are taking notice by designing their marketing and advertising strategies to appeal to this demographic. This, in turn, inevitably shapes the current state of our creative industry. Not only do they influence the types of content that are being created, they also dictate the styles that are used and the approaches employed in strategy, design, and creative production. Known as being tech-savvy, visually oriented and socially conscious, I see it as a big wake-up call to brands and agencies all over the world.
Most may have started shifting their positions towards this generation, but what’s really important is to understand their values and stance in society. Diverse yet authentic, inclusive and socially critical, are only a few traits that we need to recognize and comprehend. Having said that, I’m proud to say that those values are highly evident in this year’s Webby entrants. The works are not only forward thinking, they’re also consciously critical of current issues regarding social, political, and environmental climates. Seamless integration of daring, new technology are also vividly visible in most categories —even inspired me to implement this practice more at Build in Amsterdam.
To conclude, I’m confident that our industry will only mature and evolve if we keep pushing ourselves to better understand the values that are native to Gen Z, as they are the future backbone of our society. In doing so, I hope we can assist them to create a brighter future, and of course, a better world.”
Maurice Cherry, Principal and Creative Director, Lunch
“Some recurring themes I saw across the DEI categories touched on addressing bias and discrimination in various contexts. They really shined a light onto the importance of creating more accessible products and services. The defining qualities that made the projects in these categories really stand out were about collaboration and community, using approaches like advocacy, education, or tech solutions. What stood out to me about the projects focused on trans rights was similar to what I saw from the other DEI projects — coalition building. But also, intersectionality! Trans people aren’t a monolith, and issues of race, class, disability and other factors intersect with gender identity. The projects I saw focused on trans issues emphasized that, while also talking about the importance of building bridges with different communities.”
“Diversity and equality are of course serious issues deserving of serious consideration. But raising awareness about them needn’t be solemn, and I was delighted to see so many entries in the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion categories that used humor, style, verve, and surprise to educate and enlighten the viewer. As feminist and anarchist Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” Bringing joy to an insurgency is an absolute must if we’re to show those skeptical of the need for change that it’s only a better world we seek.”
Rashad Robinson, President, Color Of Change
“The entries we’ve seen this year truly reflect the work of those who continue to lead in the social justice movement by bridging art, advocacy, and digital organizing to spark change. So often, digital storytelling brings power to movements for change. When we invest and build online, communities can truly make an impact and take action for racial justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, and other issues. The people are powerful, and digital storytelling has revolutionized movements and organizing — mobilizing supporters and bringing attention to a wide range of issues. It was an honor to participate this year to support and highlight some of this amazing digital work.”
Will Leivenberg, Director of Brand Marketing, YML
“The most compelling submissions in the Responsible Technology category blended impact, storytelling, and tech-savvy all into one. The best of the bunch pulled back the curtain and shined a light on the specific tools and technologies fueling products and experiences, and outlined the meticulous detail that went into ensuring the work was done through an ethical and sustainable lens.”
Zachary Hamed, Co-Founder, Clay
“As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and the pace of innovation accelerates, the Webbys nominees this year demonstrated a commitment to not only harnessing the power of technology, but also ensuring that it serves humanity in a responsible and empathetic way. Through human-centered design, they have crafted experiences that prioritize the needs and well-being of users, reminding us that technology can be a force for good when wielded with care and intention.”
Mike Caguin, Chief Creative Officer, Periscope
“I was pleased to see so many different animation styles used to create emotive stories covering the humorous to heartfelt to heartbreaking—proving once again that this medium has the firepower to move us in meaningful ways.”
Michael Janiak, Co-Founder, Executive Creative Director, Pattern
“We are deep into the digital age, and it’s very clear that animation and motion design are now considered core components of modern brand identities and brand experiences. This is especially apparent in some of the most compelling brand identities and rebrand projects that have featured animation as a key visual and emotional differentiator, and seems to be drawing inspiration from the kinds of microsites and immersive digital experiences that have been prevalent for a while.”
Andreas Anderskou, Partner, Hello Monday/DEPT
“It’s amazing to see that the use of animations is increasing. It’s a powerful medium to tell complex stories in a simple way. Good animations can also create a sense of wonder and invoke a wide range of feelings and emotions. We’ve put it front and center on our own site and carefully weaved it into the main interactions too.
I think the future of animations online is promising, with continued advancements in technology and increasing demand for engaging and interactive visual content. And yes, AI will probably play a bigger role here as a collaborator on the journey towards creating immersive and memorable experiences online.”