Secret Marketer: Award-winning campaigns focus on business results, not just great creative

As the year’s end fast approaches, the inbox fills up with emails from venues suggesting that your staff Christmas party should be held at their unique establishment, and you have the usual team discussion about which poor soul will be in the office over the festive period (usually yours truly).

Secret Marketer

It is also the time of year when you are invited to become a judge on panels for the the numerous end-of-year awards to celebrate the great and good in marketing over the past year.

I tend to accept when I can, as it carries numerous benefits for me. I get to rub shoulders with peers from other brands. And I get to see some of the standout marketing work of the year. Importantly, the entries carry plenty of insight into what they were trying to achieve and the results they gained, and the nice side of the whole thing is that you get a posh lunch or fancy drinks as your reward.

This year has been no different, and I have been involved with numerous panels, and have the usual observations.

First and foremost, it is as much the quality of the submission as it is the quality of the work that gets you on the shortlist and in front of the panel of judges.

Judges spend most of their time looking at the results generated rather than the brief or the creative execution and anything else that was undertaken – so woe betide any award submission where evidence of success is missing or difficult to decipher from what is written.

Likewise, layout and relevance is critical – judges are looking at multiple submissions, so a bit like an exam paper or a CV, it is the ones where it is easy to find the information you are looking for that grab the attention.

Having said all of that, I have rarely had a good old row with my fellow judges; the winners usually rise to the top and there is consensus about which ones stand out.

Maybe it is because we are all too nice (and/or want to get to the bar/food table at the end of the day), but I would like to think that it is more down to the quality of the work resonating equally with us.

At some brands I have worked for, entering awards was scowled upon by those at the top of the organisation, dismissed as internal back slapping and not at all about enhancing the reputation of the brand and its employees.

For agencies, I recognise it is the opposite; awards are one of the things against which agencies are judged. However, as a brand owner myself, I will always be influenced by campaigns that deliver business results, rather than solely creative beauty.