The Outstanding Award Goes to Who?

Last week the lists of nominees for the Primetime Emmy Awards were announced. Just as many of you are, we were excited to see some of our favorite shows nominated — “Scandal”, “Game of Thrones”, and “Mad Men”. There are many popular categories including Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress, Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Comedy, etc. However, there are two categories that usually go unnoticed with general viewers: Outstanding Interactive Program and Outstanding Commercial.

In honor of the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, we decided to explore the nominees of these two categories and tell you whom we think, and hope will win.


Outstanding Interactive Program

This category (category 38) honors television program’s overall efforts for engagement of audience. To understand what is considered to determine the winner, we can look into the Emmy Outstanding Creative Achievements in Interactive Media, or juried 39. These awards are juried, meaning panels unanimously vote on whether television programs should receive this title. There is no head-to-head competition between programs like in categories. The award can be given in four sub-sections that include: Multiplatform Storytelling, Original Interactive Program, Social TV Experience, and User Experience and Visual Design. Now that we have general understanding of what overall efforts could include, lets go into the category 38 nominees.

Comedy Central’s “@Midnight”

@Midnight” is a new show where comedian/celebrity contestants aim to make fun of society staples such as the Internet, social media, and pop culture. If you haven’t seen it tune in Monday-Thursday at 12 a.m. or go to Comedy Central’s website to watch full episodes. As someone who had not seen the show before researching the nominees for this blog, I was cracking up throughout the half-hour episode. (Jimmy Fallon might have some late night competition.)

The show is set up similar to a game show and uses the social media platform Twitter. Contestants play for different Twitter handles and they encourage viewers to join the fun and tweet in their comedic comments, if good enough they could be shown on the next airing episode. “@Midnight” has been especially successful in reaching the male 18-24 and 18-34 audience. The Wrap reports, “@Midnight” ranked an average of second place in the late night hour segment (11 p.m. – 2 p.m.). Host Chris Hardwick explains, “Our goal was, how can we have as much fun as possible and engage people as much as possible.” From the episode or two I have watched the show definitely deserves to be nominated for this category.

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” Premiere- Facebook Live and Instagram

Season four of  “Game of Thrones” brought new and creative ways for fans of the story to engage with the creator, cast members, and producers.Using Facebook Live, a media channel that “connects you with some of the top public figures and information about what they’re working on” via live streams of events and interviews, live cast the NYC premiere. Fans sent in questions via Facebook and Instagram that were asked and answered on the red carpet.

NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Digital Experience 

Jimmy Fallon has already won the hearts of late night with his hashtag segments and fun games, but in February NBC wanted to create a new digital experience for the viewers. It re-launched the website and created a custom app for the show, which is available for Apple products and Android. The app makes it easier for fans to watch clips, view audience driven content, and play fun games, which feature Jimmy and the cast.


NBC’s “The Voice” 

The Voice’s” sixth season return was no disappointment, especially with the return of coaches Shakira and Usher. The show received a total of 10 Emmy nominations, one of them being Outstanding Interactive Program. It is hard to not hear “The Voice” when Twitter lights up with support. Celebrity coaches, the contestants, the audience, and home viewers keep the storyline moving outside of the one-hour, twice a week showing. Personally, I’m quite impressed with their Pinterest page, which has themed show munchies, information on contestants, and behind the scene photos and interviews. Props to “The Voice” team for being able to engage so many people for a long period of time.


Caroline: For this award, I am going to predict “@Midnight” or “The Voice”. Both shows seamlessly incorporate interactive elements that enhance the experience for viewers, leading the way for TV in the future.

Outstanding Commercial

This category awards both the production company and the advertising agency of the year’s best spot. Entrant eligibility requires that the commercial must be 30 -120 seconds in length, originally aired during the primetime period (6:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.), and broadcasted to at least 50% of the total potential US television audience.

Last Thursday the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences released the five final contestants. Budweiser steals two of the spots with their Super Bowl commercials, the work of Anomaly ad agency. MJZ also has two spots among the five for their production work. Below we’ll take a look at all five and I’ll give you my prediction of the category winner.

1. “A Hero’s Welcome” – Budweiser Super Bowl XLVIII Commercial
Production Company – HSI Productions
Ad Agency – Anomaly

A tearjerker through and through, the spot shows the heartwarming homecoming of US military solider Chuck Nadd. The opening scene portrays the emotional first embrace of Nadd and his wife in the airport, and then transitions into showing the embrace of the whole town. As the magnitude of respect his community feels for him is shown through scenes of welcome home signs, American flags, and finally a town parade, viewers can’t help but feel a surge of American pride.

2. “Puppy Love” – Budweiser Super Bowl XLVIII Commercial
Production Company – RSA Productions
Ad Agency – Anomaly 

The name says it all. What’s not to love about a puppy? The spot show’s the unlikely friendship between a yellow Labrador puppy and his Clydesdale best friend.  With the opening scene showing “Puppy Adoption” as Passenger’s song “Let Her Go” plays in the background, viewers are in emotional anguish waiting for the neighbors to realize these animals’ inseparable bond just can’t be torn apart. A definite crowd pleaser in post Super Bowl review, but will it remain favorite in the Emmy selection?

3. Childlike Imagination – What My Mom Does at GE
Production Company – MJZ
Ad Agency – BBDO

With an opening scene fairly reminiscent to that of Pixar’s, this General Electric commercial has artfully animated the mind of the 6-year-old narrator whose mom works at GE. The innocence of the child’s descriptions is meant to show the softer side of the company – the imagination part of their slogan “Imagination at Work”.  After its original release, Linda Boff, GE’s executive director of global brand marketing, commented on the spot, “Showing where the softer side—imagination, software, the mind—meets the harder stuff—the technology, the engines, the innovation—is, for us, a great marriage.” Judges will decide whether or not that great marriage is an outstanding one.

4. Nike Presents: Just Do It – Possibilities
Production Company – MJZ
Ad Agency – Wieden + Kennedy 

High paced and engaging, this Nike spot leaves viewers feeling energized and empowered. Standing fully behind their slogan of “Just Do It”, the commercial is constantly portraying the idea of pushing limits as the narrator pushes the viewer to believe that if they can do x, they can do y, and also z. The spot is able to effortlessly evoke the company’s passion about sports, but also about you.

5. Apple – Holiday TV Ad – Misunderstood
Production Company – Park Pictures
Ad Agency – TBWA\Media Arts Lab

Holiday ads, as we all know, are notorious for desperately trying to sell their products during height of the consumer-purchasing season. At first view, you make think this ad follows suit, depicting a teenager constantly glued to his cellphone during the family holiday gatherings, with the finality of the commercial depicting a product that will temporarily remove one from technology and bring them closer to family. However, this ad does just the opposite – showing how technology has actually brought this family closer together as the ending shows the real antics of the boy and his phone – a video he has made which captures his family’s most endearing candid moments of their holiday visit.


Savannah: While we all love cute puppies, we love our family more. And for that reason, I choose Apple. Their spot makes the viewer feel all the things they should – nostalgic, happy, content, and heart warmed. Rather than alienating or hampering our ability to connect, Apple portrays how their technology actually brings us closer together and just like it was part of this family, it should be part of yours too. And all of this is evoked without ever even mentioning all of the operating systems newest features, improvements, or tricks – other than the seeing the iPhone in the boy’s hand there isn’t even a mention of the company or anything related until the end. It is clear that Apple produced an outstanding commercial, and they key? Blending message with emotion.


Who do you think deserves the Emmy Awards? Let us know why in a comment below. And don’t forget to see who wins these two categories at the Emmy’s on Monday August 25th at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT on NBC.

– Caroline and Savannah



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