2018 APAC Effie Judging Diary: “Ok, just one beer!”, by Andreas Krasser, Head of Strategy & Innovation, DDB Group Hong Kong
An eye-catching fish tank, a pantry to die for, and a sea of computer screens displaying complicated bar graphs, and lots and lots of flickering numbers no one could ever possibly understand. Yes, I’m back at Bloomberg Singapore to judge the APAC Effies.
Day One was off to a bit of a rocky start: a few tech glitches cut into our reading and discussion time. But it didn’t matter. Our Head of Jury, David Porter from Unilever, ran a tight ship, and made sure we got through our two categories, ‘Small Budget and Retail’, in no time. Effectiveness, judged efficiently.
In the afternoon, we switched up panels, and I landed in probably the most fun and energetic one of all, headed up by JWT’s Global ECD, Guan Hin Tay. Not even a sudden air-conditioning malfunction in the judging room could stop our panel’s optimism. Three entries into ‘Branded Content’, we were pumped: “Great work so far, just keep it coming!” Yeah… let’s just say it went downhill from there. Not in terms of mood though. This panel’s spirit just wouldn’t break. And fortunately, we ended on a slightly higher note with ‘New Products & Services’. Truly an afternoon full of blood (paper cut), sweat (no air-conditioning), and tears (from laughing and crying).
As usual, the Confederation of Asian Advertising Agency Associations (CAAAA) and Tenasia Group were so generous to organize drinks for the end of the day. My inbox said no, but my body said: “Ok, just one beer.” Two hours, many inspiring conversations, and certainly more than one beer later: “Ok, just one more.” That’s also when I was informed I was recused from judging for the next morning, due to some conflict of interest…I supposed….”Another beer please!”
On day two, I saw myself judging the categories ‘Brand Experience’ – Products and Household/Home Products & Services, under the guidance of Edelman’s charismatic Rupen Desai. The vibe was different from day one: still fun, but with a lot more interrogation, scepticism, and a slight pinch of cynicism. “Damn, these people know their shit. And, they’re tough!” I liked it!
By 6pm, we submitted our last scores, leaving the final call to the Heads of Jury. “That’s a wrap! Ok, just one beer…”
After two days of reading, dissecting, discussing, and evaluating dozens of entries, I’m walking away with a few insights in regards to what works with judges, and what really doesn’t.
What got us cheering:
• Well written entries: You might think, no shit Sherlock! But this isn’t about prose, copy writing or even English language proficiency. It’s a matter of straightforwardness and simplicity. Most cases that convinced the judges went right to the point, and avoided unnecessary fluff, jargon and buzzwords. This especially matters because, on average, a judge does not get more than 10 minutes to read an entire case.
• Local circumstances & benchmarks: While the panels truly are diverse and multi-cultural, no one can know each market’s commercial and cultural context. So, for judges to put things, especially results and their correlation to objectives, into perspective, it was tremendously helpful when cases provided local benchmarks. After all, 500,000 views in China don’t mean the same thing as they would do in Australia for instance.
What made us angry:
- Gimmick-led entries: Every now and then we would come across an entry that showcased really nice creative work. Gimmicky, but nice. However, at the end of the day, it was always obvious immediately to the judges when something was retro-engineered. So, better save the money and submit to creative awards instead!
- Hoping shit will stick: Ok, your case might be good. But at least put in the effort to adjust your write-up so it clearly fits the category you’re submitting to. If you submit for multiple categories, chances are very high that judges will see your case more than once. The last thing you want them, is to be bored.
- Hyperbolization: No, one million views on your video did certainly not change a culturally ingrained behavior!
It seems my paragraphs and sentences are getting shorter. I guess that means: “Ok, just one beer…”