NEW YORK — "McDonald's Birthday Meals: Grimace's Birthday,” a campaign developed for the fast food giant by Golin, was named the best public relations campaign of 2023 at the North American SABRE Awards, which took place at New York’s Cipriani 42nd Street last night.

In the process, Golin became the first ever agency to win three of the major awards — Best Agency to Work For, Large Agency of the Year and Best in Show — on the same evening. 

The campaign was developed in response to a sharp decline in children’s birthday celebrations at McDonald’s restaurants, and revived an old “McDonaldland” character, Grimace, to reignite enthusiasm. After five years without growth, the number of birthday celebrations at McDonald’s increased by 900%.

“This campaign was great consumer marketing, pure and simple,” said Paul Holmes, founder of PRovoke Media and chair of the SABRE judges. “Awards competitions tend to over-index on purpose driven campaigns, and we once again saw a lot of great purpose-driven work this year. But sometimes successful PR is about a great creative idea that simply captures the imagination and engages consumers in a meaningful way.

“And in this case, the results were beyond spectacular.”

The “Grimace’s Birthday” campaign beat out four other finalists to take home the Platinum SABRE for best in show. They were (in order):

2. Black Hair is Professional — Dove with Ogilvy
3. SAG-AFTRA 2023 Negotiations and Strike Campaign — SAG-AFTRA
4. Step Up for Safety — DHL Supply Chain with Fahlgren Mortine
5. Aura Freedom ‘For Her’ Campaign — Aura Freedom with Veritas Communications and Forsman & Bodenfors

“Ranging from purpose-driven work for Dove to communications around the Hollywood strike for SAG-AFTRA, to internal communications for DHL, these finalists showcase the amazing breadth of work the judges saw this year,” said Holmes. “Any one of them would have been a worthy Platinum winner.”

The biggest haul of trophies on the night belonged to Ogilvy, which took home eight awards for its clients, followed by MSL and Weber Shandwick with five awards each; BCW with four; and Finn Partners, Golin and M Booth with three apiece.

A complete list of winners can be found here.