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What our judges saw: Strategy
26 Oct 2023
Scott Stockwell, Editor in Chief, EMEA IBM, Chair B2B Council
Strategy, Creativity, Results: The imposing Royal College of General Practitioners next to Euston Station hosted this year’s in-person DMA Awards judging. Whilst the Grade II listed façades contained within the atrium are a feast for the eyes, the acoustics aren’t quite the same feast for the ears. To ensure jurors could hear the briefing, as chairs, we briefed our judges in the judging rooms. The DMA’s focus strongly on strategy, creativity, and results. As a chair, I strongly encourage my fellow judges to look for a match between the strategy and results. Occasionally great results aren’t always aligned to the campaign intent.
Breaking down sales cycles: In B2B particularly, the long sales cycles can prove problematic if the strategic intent is revenue – which ultimately is what most campaigns are after. Entries that break the sales cycle into stages, and then look for results across those stages maintain that strong throughline from strategy to creativity to results.
The critical role of data: The DMA Awards will always have a particular focus on data. The clue is in the award title after all! Whilst all the entries spoke to data, those that performed best were clearest on what data was used, the insights the data surfaced and how well it informed the strategy and creative executions. That insight varied from offering performance to consumer behaviour and all points between.
Appropriate creativity: While some creative ideas weren’t entirely original, they were unique solutions that met the target market’s needs and engaged them to take actions that delivered on the strategic intent. One campaign’s innovation is another’s ‘been there done that’ – but taking each campaign and considering how creatively it solved a problem or met a need kept us focused. Similarly, we saw ranges of budgets from multiple zeros to near zero itself. ROI can be a compelling data point and helps keep a level playing field.
Diversity: The DMA does a fantastic job of keeping the panels diverse. This covers roles with campaigns ranging from data and strategy to copy and videography. Our panel fully represented all the categories on offer in the diversity questionnaire we all completed before judging. But this year had a new contributor – our ‘next-gen’ judge. Ensuring that juries considered views from a wider range of ages was new for the DMA this year. It paid dividends. The wider the set of perspectives on a campaign, the better we could judge it, and our next-gen judge was a significant addition this year.
The DMA Awards 2023 shortlist is out, and it’s not long to wait until all the gold winners and the especially coveted DMA Awards Grand Prix 2023 are announced. As chair for Best B2B and Best B2E this year, I’d like to give a huge thanks to the DMA for inviting me to chair, to everyone who entered for giving us some fantastic work to judge, and to my fellow panel of judges for their steadfast deliberations. See you on December 5th at awards night!
Claire Wood, Chief of Staff and Marketing Services Director, Deloitte, Deputy Chair B2B Council
In previous years, I have judged the B2B awards category, presumably a link to my role on the DMA’s B2B Marketing Council and indeed my own marketing background. This year, however, I had the pleasure of judging the Brand Building category which was a refreshing change. One of the reasons I love judging the awards is that I always learn something along the way and this year was no exception. So here are my reflections…
Story-telling: There is definitely an art to writing awards entries, particularly when there is a word count restriction. The entries that stood out for me were those that were as well-crafted as the campaigns they represented.
Human connection: There were several entries that really resonated with me because of the emotional connection they made with their audience whether through humour or shock or tugging at the heartstrings… campaigns that can do that are infinitely more memorable and isn’t that what brand building is all about…
Purpose: A critical factor in a brand-building campaign is that it has to be true to your purpose so those that worked well were where the campaign had the brand’s purpose at its heart. That may sound obvious, but it wasn’t always evident.
Diversity: The addition of a ‘next-gen’ judge for each awards category was a great addition to the day. Our next-gen judge really did bring a different perspective and made a very positive contribution to the debate.
Measurement: There was a plethora of metrics and KPIs used to prove the beneficial impact of the campaign entries in this category. What was interesting for me was what was missing – very little information on spend or ROI…
Last but not least - and keeping up the missing theme - there were very, very few B2B brand-building campaigns, the vast majority were B2C or from the charity sector… so B2B marketers – where are you?!