Award festivals gather the best work that’s done in our industry. So, it’s not surprising that Crossmedia Worldwide CEO Martin Albrecht came home quite inspired after his jury work at #FOMNA22. However, he noticed a couple of things that had been missing this year. And he says that more campaigns would have had a shot at a trophy – if they’d only been entered…
I was a juror at #FOMNA22, the Festival of Media North America 2022, which just wrapped. Congratulations to all the winners! There are some wonderful campaigns to learn from, and I encourage you to look at all the winners.
It was not only inspiring to watch and read the entries but I loved the jury experience: these days it is just so rare to experience a true debate as award jury members, while united by a common purpose (award the right entries), come from different walks of life (or at least the industry) and importantly, there is no hierarchy or functional structure .They have to function as a team and in the jury room no one cares about who or what you are or represent.
All that counts is the quality of your argument, your willingness to listen, your ability to change your mind (and occasionally change the mind of others) and importantly, the kindness with which you enrich, sometimes endure and always help move along the experience for everyone else. It is such a welcome difference to the echo chambers of our social media realities or the BS of our corporate lives that I highly encourage everyone to particate in a jury if the opportunity comes up.
If you are wondering how to win next time or just looking for some behind-the-scenes-jury-wisdom on how to score at industry awards, you probably don’t want me to wax about the wonderfulness of the winners – they have already won!
Instead, here are my very personal Five Things I am Hoping to See More of At Future Festival of Media events:
1. More Commercial Pride
If there is a cultural shift for brands to have a higher moral purpose, #FOMNA22 is proof of it. The majority of awards went to brands that advertised something above or beyond their product benefits. Cause-related marketing always has an edge at any awards, but as a jury we were left almost searching for more good old commercial growth achievements. The amount of recognition for campaigns leveraging the higher calling of a brand at #FOMNA22 is also due to a lack of entries with only plain commercial strategies. Of course, often purpose is the path to such commercial growth, but rarely is there serious proof that it works. And in my experience, a truly meaningful alignment between brand and purpose is still very much the exception rather than the norm. So, if you managed to sell out your client’s product due to a killer idea, but without saving a single endangered species, please don’t be shy to enter it with pride!
2. More Humor
Award shows used to leave you crying with laughter. With the notable exceptions of the Cheez-it “aged by audio” campaign or the Halloween ads for Sun-Maid Raisins, the jury at #FOMNA22 was barely giggling. Part of this is due to bit of an overcrowding of campaigns with deep, meaningful earnestness, but in these troubling times, humor can be a welcome salve to break through to a consumer, no?
3. More Insight
The shortlisted campaigns had exceptional talent behind them with the brightest brains of the industry cracking clients’ problems. Still, it felt like most campaigns succeeded more because they had a mix of human empathy, a wealth of data or good, old big budgets behind them. There were some bold moves like the Coinbase Super Bowl Ad; some industry firsts such as the use of 3D audio, but rarely would our jury shout out “Wow, that is clever!” My advice for award entries is therefore: don’t be shy to enter stuff that is just plain brilliant, even if it is not a full-fledged comprehensive multi-national campaign: if there is some serious wit in your campaign, it might very well bring home a trophy.
4. More Specificity
One of the most heart-breaking mistakes agencies make is that they enter the same write-up into multiple award categories. Don’t be lazy. Juries ALWAYS look to award entries that are deserving of the specific category. Just because your campaign is great, it doesn’t mean it is “integrated” or that the bit of “branded content” was instrumental or that the great “ROI” were due to an amazing “strategic insight”. When you write your entry: step away from the amazingness of your case for a second, look at previous winners and think about what exactly sets your case apart from other entries in this specific category. This will help you to provide some differentiating nuggets to a jury hungry to put laurels on your head.
5. More Indies
25 years of entrepreneurial hustling makes me very sympathetic to the unsung heroes of entering awards on a shoe-string budget. Being successful at the awards circus requires a serious investment and few indies have the talent experienced enough to enter successful award entries. Still, with the notable exception of Criterion – congratulations for your wonderful Gorillas work, by the way! – the awards were taken home by the same handful of agencies. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with them, but if you are an aspiring indie, please do not a) underestimate the pride and halo effect that comes with an award and b) do not overestimate what it takes to win a trophy: reach out to me if you think I can be of any help 😉.