Good genes: Unravelling the DNA of an award-winning idea

Posted on November 26, 2015 by Alexandra Kent

Last night Man Bites Dog won another prestigious industry award for our work with natural and built asset consultancy, Arcadis. The Sustainable Cities Index campaign has picked up five gongs so far – including B2B Marketing’s Best Use of Thought Leadership. At last night’s CorpComms do, we accepted the International Campaign of the Year accolade.

After all the excitement, I’m reflecting on what’s made the campaign capture the imagination of the judges.

The Sustainable Cities Index assessed for the first time the performance of 50 cities worldwide according to a ‘triple bottom line’ of sustainability – people, planet and profit. The proposition is unique – by benchmarking cities against people, planet and profit factors, the Index brought a genuinely new perspective to a well-worn debate. The data is rich – ranking cities against 20 separate indicators to give a true picture of urban prosperity and enabling key audiences to pinpoint areas of under-performance in their cities. The global story is compelling – we proved that cities are failing to meet the needs of their citizens by prioritising environmental and economic initiatives over social ones.

The Sustainable Cities Index is the most successful campaign in Arcadis’ history. It’s delivered millions of dollars in direct sales, sparked conversations with city officials from Kuala Lumpur to Leeds, has seen hundreds of media hits, and thousands of people from all over the world have viewed the video, downloaded the report or visited the microsite.

It’s inspired action, discussion and engagement. But it didn’t happen by accident. A compelling idea is what makes or breaks a great sales and marketing campaign. But in practice, most ideas rarely combine the key ingredients needed to be commercially effective and inspire senior audiences. When the business is looking to marketing for ideas, over three quarters of B2B marketers told us that they are not adept at generating them.

We’ve identified the key components of a commercially effective idea to help our clients develop campaigns that sell. It’s not rocket science, it’s biology. There are three strands the make up the DNA of these ideas:


Think – it offers a fresh perspective and communicates an original thought.

Feel – it’s relevant and makes a personal connection.

Do – it has a commercial imperative that provokes a response.

In the next three blogs, we’ll explore each of these strands to help you develop big ideas that are original, relevant and provoke a response. You can also find lots of practical advice about coming up with ideas that sell in Man Bites Dog’s new marketers’ guide.

This post is part of Man Bites Dog’s ‘No Idea?’ blog series on creating marketing campaign ideas that sell.



+44 (0) 1273 716 820
[email protected]

Head Office
Moore House
13 Black Lion Street
United Kingdom

London Office
24/25 The Shard
32 London Bridge Street
United Kingdom

© 2005 - 2024 Man Bites Dog