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Special Project

Special Project
From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

Icon Forged in Steel: Royal Oak 50th Anniversary | Morning Studio x Audemars Piguet

Entered in Native Advertising, Storytelling


At the beginning of 2022, Audemars Piguet came to SCMP Morning Studio looking to develop a branded content campaign. The objectives were: To showcase Audemars Piguet’s iconic Royal Oak watch for its 50th anniversary, and its commemorative timepiece To raise awareness of Audemars Piguet among brand lovers and prospective buyers – especially a younger, millennial age group To promote Audemars Piguet’s physical pop-up exhibition, presented at the West Kowloon Arts District from September 18-25, 2022 To tease the exhibition, the branded content campaign was positioned to retrace the Royal Oak’s development from horological iconoclast to icon, by taking an immersive journey back through time. As prospective visitors to the exhibition, the readers of the campaign were expected to take a deep dive into the Royal Oak’s cultural universe and follow the evolution of this timepiece, from its first inspirations through to its enduring impact on the world of watchmaking. This partnership was achieved based on the huge success of a campaign we created for Audemars Piguet in 2021, called “The Moon Is Leaving Us”, which won Best Use of Infographics (Gold) and Best Integrated Program / Omni-Channel Integration (Bronze) in the 2022 Native Advertising Awards.

Strategy and Execution

A human-led storytelling approach

We wanted to tell the story of the Royal Oak beyond the facts and figures of that chronicle. Our strategy was to make the data more relatable by putting faces to it – humanising the story and providing a compelling and hard (but not cold) look into the Royal Oak’s history. So we picked a hero and personality – Gérald Genta, the designer of the Royal Oak – through whom we could tactfully convey the brand messages while increasing authentic awareness and appreciation of the legendary watch with our target audience.

A multimedia infographic format

Now that we had a real person to help bring the history to life, next was picking the best format for showcasing this story. The choice was clear – an interactive multimedia presentation was the best way to get the story across, and to most effectively illustrate the chronology of events that took place in the Royal Oak’s half-century of history. We had abundant in-house insights to support this choice of format. According to our first-party data platform SCMP Lighthouse, Audemars Piguet’s target audience on was particularly interested in visual storytelling like infographics and videos, compared to text-led long reads. Our multimedia page for “The Moon Is Leaving Us” had the highest average time spent on an article (3 minutes, 36 seconds) among all branded content campaigns published on in 2021. The final average time spent on that page was 260% over target, indicating the immense appeal of this multimedia infographic format.

An interactive and gamified experience

For the Royal Oak campaign, we wanted the readers to experience the birth and growth of this iconic watch in a scrollable storytelling journey punctuated by eye-catching visuals. That way, we could make the otherwise dry statistics pop using historical images, striking illustrations and lively animations. These visual call-outs were peppered throughout the multimedia page in order to prevent readers from becoming overwhelmed by facts and figures, while also helping ensure that the information would be easily digestible and stay at front of mind. We also developed a gamified element within the story, namely three interactive quiz questions, to provide a hands-on experience for the readers and also enable them to remember essential details about the Royal Oak watches, such as the materials used and number of different models. Eventually, the multimedia page was designed to comprise four chapters centred around key moments in the Royal Oak’s history:

- The Great Reveal: “A timepiece that shook the world“ (transitioning to a quiz question)

- The Design: “A phone call and a misunderstanding” (transitioning to a quiz question)

- The Obstacles: “ ‘Sir, it won’t work.’ ” (transitioning to a quiz question)

- The Legacy: “From iconoclast to icon”"


The results of the campaign were outstanding and exceeded expectations. Over the three-month campaign period (September 8 to December 7, 2022), the campaign reached 319,546 users in total through a thorough distribution plan across multiple channels, including, Facebook, and Instagram. The campaign served over 3.3 million banner impressions, with 56,058 page views on alone. The average time spent on the page was a remarkable 3 minutes, significantly higher than the average dwell time of 1 minute, 50 seconds on other SCMP articles. The Facebook campaign also performed well, with a click-through rate of 0.51% and two posts receiving a total of 242 likes, comments, and shares. The eDM campaign also exceeded industry standards with an open rate of 32%, compared to the industry threshold of 20.5%. These results demonstrate that the campaign effectively raised awareness of Audemars Piguet and engaged the target audience, helping to meet the objectives set out at the beginning of the project.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Morning Studio, South China Morning Post


Entry Credits