My Mediaweek judging experience – take it back to basics

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I judged my first Mediaweek awards this week. An array of illuminati from media were there (me excluded), from agencies, publishers, creative and media. All of them were senior and full of experience in judging and the industry as well as carrying a good helping of cynicism and sarcasm.

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Not sure what I expected really, a big old argument over the winner, a load of opinionated, puffed up media types all showing how right they are? I could not have been more wrong. In fact my group, not to mention names, was experienced and senior for sure, a mixture of advertisers, agencies, clients and media owners, all very polite, thoughtful and very insightful.

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With that comes a very acute ability to judge and to see through bullshit. Discussions around the table were not around disagreements so much as agreement. Of course there were individual opinions and differences but actually what really stood out was the immediate way in which entries that lacked either direction, quality, clarity on accomplishments and results were all found out very quickly.

It was fascinating seeing the entries boiled down to a single 5 minute video, it means you have to nail it and in a clear and succint fashion. Overall the quality was very high indeed but there were a couple that when they ended left the group all staring at each other in bewilderment. It is harder than it looks, sitting in that room watching this finished material it looks easy but I know it is hard from my New Business days. I recall the time we were told to do ‘something different’ in our new biz submission so we decided to send a video as primary introduction. It was slick, showed off the brands and the results we had achieved, it was described by the client as ‘a load of corporate w@@@’ So it is difficult to know what to do. Overall though my advice to entries of the future, knowing that it is being watched by 10 very experienced, sharp, media people would boil down to these few tips:

1. Start with the brief and make sure your video actually answers it and focuses on what the category is looking for, not what you want to shoehorn in.

2. Enter it in the right category!

3. Don’t submit the same video into different categories without adapting to some extent, this was an interesting debate. I think I came out on the side of tailor in some way, a nod of acknowledgement that it was a different brief to the previous you submitted into – not everyone agreed with that though.

4. Make sure results are strong and properly benchmarked – amazing amount of stats used out of context and with no benchmark. You have to remember that judges will either think they are not great stats in context or they are made up and twisted in some way if you dont.

5. Dont over use phrases such as ‘contributed to the overall’ that will deliver a wave of cynicism from these old hacks

6. Create a professional video that looks like you want to win, not one you threw together for your graduate presentation. Can you hear what the people are saying over special effects for instance?

I have to say thought that overall I was really impressed both with the approach and professionalism of both the judges and entries. It was fascinating to see all this great work side by side and even more interesting to hear the judges comments first hand. I was also quietly relieved to see business results front and centre rather than likes, licks and other titbits.

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