The truth was that I didn’t quite know what to expect even though I had heard from my peers that the judging process (over three days) was a tough one. It was to some extent true, but the hard work was well worth it.
The 40 Media Lions judges (pictured below) were split into eight groups, each with five judges (simple math). There were more than 3,100 media entries this year. No, I didn’t judge them all. They were split among the right groups of jurors. Each day we judged about 110 to 150 entries per jury group. As you can imagine, we were overwhelmed and exhausted, but also inspired. All jurors were reassigned to a different jury group the next day, so it was also a good opportunity to meet our peers (usually followed by an evening drink and dinner). The last three days of the conversations we had were all about the work and…the work. It was nice to put our differences aside and just talk about the great (and not so good) work.
Clearly, great campaigns stood out. A big applause to those who will make it into the shortlist. You should definitely throw a celebration party because getting into the top 10 to 15 per cent of more than 3,100 entries isn’t easy. The categories allocated to my jury groups were Use of Branded Content & Sponsorship, Use of Special Event and Stunt/Live Advertising, Commercial Public Services, Use of Audio, and Use of Integrated Media. If you are interested in Branded Content and Audio campaigns, here are some of my key takeaways (without revealing the campaigns).
Use of Audio
- Audio content should aim to deliver values and solve a challenge for a brand and consumer. This should be more than a simple brand mention in the ad.
- Consider how the audio content fits within the environment that the consumer is in and the context in which the content is being received, such as the before and after effect.
- Creation of new content is always appealing, but consider the technical/technological opportunities the content can use and the platforms for playing the content (anything with sound can be a good engaging opportunity).
- Content is typically produced by a brand, but the involvement of consumers makes the campaign much more meaningful and inspiring.
- The production of audio involves many parties who can also present opportunities to enhance the overall effectiveness of the campaign.
Use of Branded Content & Sponsorship
- Brand partnerships/sponsorships are typical, but they don’t have to be.
- Think about riding on a non-brand-related character (not just human) as brand connection.
- Explore how the brand’s message could be used in the context of a social issue (while still smartly answering the campaign’s objective).
- Traditional and new media platforms can still be used innovatively. While technology helps, it’s the idea that matters. Broadcasting brand logos in a mass campaign is effective to generate brand awareness but not necessarily engaging.
- Don’t just create new content, you can tap into live content to deliver brand messages too.
Don’t forget multimedia opportunities. All platforms are pretty much interconnected these days.