15th annual Markie Award recipients delivered exceptional customer experiences during difficult times

July 27, 2021 | 5 minute read
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Congratulations to Oracle’s 2021 Markie Award nominees, finalists, and winners! Visit our website to view a complete list and learn more about these award-winning organizations.

As I shared after my first 30 days here at Oracle, my first week on the job was meant to be spent at the 2020 Oracle Modern Customer Experience conference in Chicago, the event where we usually announce our annual Markie Award winners. At that point, we knew COVID-19 would impact our daily lives, but I don’t think anyone could have imagined what would transpire over the next year. As 2020 wore on, we all adapted to the new norm and found ways to carry on—and for some, even thrive.

This year, we’re celebrating the 15th year of Oracle’s Markie Awards. At the core, the Markie Awards are about celebrating the people and organizations that overcome tough odds and push innovation to its limits to achieve positive outcomes for customers.

So I wasn’t surprised to learn that this year’s nominees saw 2020 as an opportunity to stretch themselves beyond the commonplace, to deliver customer experiences that were truly exceptional. After all, the Markies have a 15-year history of celebrating exactly this kind of marketing innovation.

As we announce the winners of this year’s Markie Awards, I think it’s fitting that we explore what made this year’s nominees so exceptional.

Customer (and employee) safety as the top priority

When the global pandemic turned everyday life upside down, this year’s Markie finalists and winners remained unerringly focused on providing a safe, secure environment for their customers and their workers.

When a specialty retailer closed its brick-and-mortar stores for a portion of 2020, their online sales increased 60%. Company leaders took the unusual step of capping the number of phone and online orders so they could meet customer service expectations with a smaller number of employees, a reduction necessary to allow staff to follow social distancing guidelines.

And when a university needed to reimagine their Open Day to allow prospective students to experience campus life from the safety of their own homes, they created a digital event that offered a flexible and feature-rich live event hub—putting customer experience at the heart of everything.

Resilience in the face of change

This year’s Markie finalists focused on what they could control during a time of uncertainty. They identified immediate needs and worked to their strengths, demonstrating resilience—and even growth—in the face of difficulty.

When a new hotel and resort chain was merely in the planning stages, they didn’t know their biggest challenge would be launching the new business during a pandemic, which greatly affected the travel and hospitality industry. With their business model focused on providing the best guest experience, they pivoted to deliver a safe, contactless customer experience that aligned with their values and principles.

When the pandemic disrupted the typical launch stages for a new release, a video game publisher and distributer used email to offer a real immersion into the promoted game. The interactive experience made each recipient an actor in the game and fully immersed them in the experience prior to release, which turned them into brand ambassadors.

Seeing challenge as an opportunity

Challenges come in many different forms, but the strongest organizations view them as ways to rethink, retool, and improve. This year’s Markie finalists and winners turned disruptions into opportunities for growth.

When the pandemic changed a bank’s planned focus on online offerings from a “nice to have” to a “must have,” they knew a large part of their customer base, those born before the wave of digitalization, were resistant to managing their investments and finances online. The bank adapted their online offering to provide the same level of comfort a client would have in the bank lobby, which proved to be the best fit for all their customers.

A large sports organization needed to keep ticketholders informed of their plans to safely bring fans back to the sport they loved watching in a post-pandemic world. With changes happening in real time, they created a communication plan to provide fans with the news they craved and the information they needed to get back to the arena safely.

Above all else, it’s about helping others and giving back

2020 was a tough year across the globe, but many of our Markie nominees delivered marketing innovations to benefit their customers and employees, as well as the community at large.

Pandemic-related lockdowns shone a light on the impact humans have on the planet, and more than one nominee adjusted their business practices to reduce their environmental footprint, including a large supermarket that created a new digital catalog experience for their customers. Ceasing delivery of their print catalogs is saving more than 10,000 tons of paper a year. That’s about 80,000 trees!

And, of course, the global pandemic did not just create a public health crisis, it also impacted the economic health of both businesses and consumers. Many Markie nominees saw this need and made the choice to help. One airline donated 100,000 tickets to front-line healthcare workers to thank them for their hard work and dedication.

A large US city distributed more than $35 million in donated funds to more than 100,000 of its at-risk residents who had lost income due to the pandemic. They created a safe, secure, and easy-to-use solution in just weeks to get funds into the hands of those who needed it most.

As I learn more about the nominees, finalists, and winners of the 15th Annual Markie Awards, I’m left with an overall sense of hope. We received hundreds of submissions from around the world, all with a common thread of resiliency, innovation, and a strong desire to create truly exceptional experiences across the customer journey.

Thanks to everyone who shared your stories of inspiration and determination from this past year! We appreciate your creativity and your drive to succeed. And congratulations to all the winners of the 2021 Markie Awards! I can’t wait to see what amazing things you do next!


Hear more below about the 2021 Markie Awards from Executive Vice President and General Manager of Oracle Advertising and CX Rob Tarkoff. For a full list of 2021 Markie Award winners, visit our website.

Nate Skinner

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