Staff
Sep 18, 2018

Agency of the Year 2018 judges share their advice

What does an AOY judge look for in an entry? Our 2018 judges share their insights and what they hope to see from their region for this year’s awards

Agency of the Year 2018 judges share their advice

The countdown is on as the entry deadline for the 2018 Agency of the Year Awards approaches on 9 October. Judging is a critical element of Agency of the Year, and a primary component in carrying out the Award’s rigorous criteria. For 25 years, Agency of the Year judging panels have been comprised of senior marketers from key business categories.

This year, the Awards continues its long-standing tradition of being the region’s most prestigious awards and is proud to have the support of nearly 100 judges hailing from global brands. As Agency of the Year strives to showcase excellent agency work from across the region, the Awards have become a unique stage for local, regional and global agencies to demonstrate their best work.

We spoke with several judges to learn what they value in an entry, what they hope to see from their region, and advice they wish to share with independent agencies and agencies from growing markets. Answers are edited for clarity and length.

1. As a judge, what do you look for in an entry?

I look for brevity with “wow” factor and outstanding results.

2. Do you have any advice to share with first-time entrants?

Focus on the real important facts, and what will truly differentiate the candidate/entry from others.

3. What do you hope to see from your region?

I would like to see more participation from our country (Philippines) in particular. New talents are also welcome and refreshing.

4. Do you any advice or encouragement for independent agencies and those from smaller regions to enter AOY?

Being big does not necessarily spell big results from clients.  The difference lies on how agencies big or small meet the business objectives of the client and do something really exciting or out-of-the-box to stand out! Sometimes the uncommon details are what surprises one the most.

1. As a judge, what do you look for in an entry?

I look for the following when I judge an entry:

a.  Brand Effect

b.  Consumers Benefit

c.  Business Results

d.  Impact to Internal Employees (if applicable)

e.  Influence on the Industry

f.  If idea is not just effective but also innovative and/or disruptive

2. Do you have any advice to share with first-time entrants?

Always keep your entries coherent, concise and straight to the point.

Make sure that your business results deliver on the business objectives you have identified at the beginning of your case study.

3. What do you hope to see from your region?

Innovative, Fresh, Insightful Ideas that stem from a great strategy and delivers great business results.

It is also refreshing to see entries that makes use of new channels and media.

4. Do you any advice or encouragement for independent agencies and those from smaller regions to enter AOY?

Great ideas can come from many sources. It is not just dominated by one or a few big agencies or big markets. The industry has also evolved.  More and more opportunities are provided to independent agencies. You can be a small player now but all things are possible at this time.

 

1. As a judge, what do you look for in an entry?

Within an entry, I always look at the what problem it is trying to solve - creatively not only in the idea, but also the simplicity its execution for the best possible results. I also look for entry that is “confident” by itself, without overselling with jargons, charts etc. Every judge must be able to pick up the entry quickly and understand it.

2. Do you have any advice to share with first-time entrants?

Keep your entry succinct and sharp. Be creative on how you sell your entry.

3. What do you hope to see from your region?

Disruptive approach to executions, more independent and experimental agencies please!

4. Do you any advice or encouragement for independent agencies and those from smaller regions to enter AOY?

There are plenty of amazing work coming out from boutique agencies. It is not about the size of the agency, but the rigour in the thinking, ideation and execution. 

 

1. As a judge, what do you look for in an entry?

Direct attribution of solution presented to address a pressing business challenge.

2. Do you have any advice to share with first-time entrants?

Be authentic and always put in perspective the ideas since not everyone reading your case study is familiar with your industry nor country’s cultural nuances.

3. What do you hope to see from your region?

Case studies from disruptive startups.

4. Do you any advice or encouragement for independent agencies and those from smaller regions to enter AOY?

This is the stage to deliver your elevator pitch. Shine!

1. As a judge, what do you look for in an entry?

A concise, distilled articulation of the problem/challenge you are trying to solve. 

In essence the entry will be judged based on how creative/well thought out is the solution based upon how you have define (or redefine) the problem.  If I cannot understand it, or if I do not agree to it, then the rest almost doesn't matter.  Too many entries give a lot of business background, and the challenge is hidden within it. 

The next thing I look for is really how well the insight is articulated.  (And whether it is a true insight at all...)

There are usually several "insights" that you can hang a strategy on so I am always interested as to why a particular one was selected above all else.  After all strategy is about making a choice.  So articulating why this particular one / or approach is selected over others is always helpful.

Then I look at how "fresh" the execution is.  This is not to be confused with novelty. 

It's good to be experimental and try new channels but being "the first" to do something does not necessary equate the entry as being "creative".

The winning entries will almost always make me say to myself "this is so simple...why haven't I thought of that before?"  The best ideas always have a simple elegance to it.

2. Do you have any advice to share with first-time entrants?

When I was a junior planner writing my first entry, I remember how daunting it was and I spent weeks polishing it non-stop. Maybe it’s just me, but it's almost the entire team's blood, sweat hangs on how well you pen the entry and the pressure can get to you.

Looking back, if I were to give advice to my younger self, I would just say "write from your heart". Great ideas always touch people and the judge is also a human being and not a machine. 

It is also important to think of entry submission not as a means to win an award.  While I still remember clearly the thrill of winning, I feel that I learn the most about strategy when I sit down to write about it after it's done.  The dust has settled, no more deadlines, the work is done.  Now is the time to consolidate your learning.  We all know that great ads and strategy were never really done in a linear process and sometimes and sometimes you may even forget why you've made certain choices.  Think of submissions like writing a diary or a journal.  It is an opportunity for you to reflect, re-evaluate what you have done and that's how we learn.  You can't control how the awards will be given.  There are too many factors.  But you can control your learning experience and I personally have benefited a lot from the process, before I even managed to win one. 

3. What do you hope to see from your region?

I would like to see more entries from smaller clients/brands.  You do not have to be a big company to have good ideas.  

I also want to see more ideas from local, non-MNC companies. It feels that the amount of entries on MNC clients are disproportionate to the amount of creative work that is being developed.

4. Do you any advice or encouragement for independent agencies and those from smaller regions to enter AOY?

Sometimes I do feel that the odds are stacked against independent agencies.  They have to pay the same price on entry, have less people and resource available to write/submit an entry.  But overall it is worthwhile to do it.  Don't think about winning too much.  I would use the opportunity to give encouragement to the working team that the agency leadership team believes the work is good enough to be submitted.  I believe this type of encouragement is important to small teams and in retaining talent in their organization. 

Another way to think about it is this:  The Olympics are dominated by the big countries in terms of medals.  But we still need smaller countries to participate, otherwise the spirit of the games would be lost.  We all have a responsibility to nurture the industry no matter how big or small a company you are.  And the awards are one of the most important ways to do so as it honors the work and most importantly the people behind the work. It’s also a lot of work for the judges to review hundreds of entries!

 

For awards enquiries, please contact Zamir Khan at zamir.khan@haymarket.asia or the AOY team at AOY@haymarket.asia.

 

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