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Oct 15, 2004
How To

Boost Your Chances of Winning an EFFIE: 7 Specific Tips from the Judges

SUMMARY: Nominations for the EFFIEs are due Friday, Oct 22nd, which means you've got about 5 hours left. We asked this year's head judge for tips on making sure your nomination stands out. One tip - have a single writer complete the entire form. Don't get each department head (creative, media buying, etc.) to write their own section. Six more tips here:
By Contributing Editor Jennifer Nastu

As the deadline for EFFIE Award submissions looms (next Friday, October 22, 2004), advertisers and agencies are scrambling to prepare entry forms showing their campaigns to the best advantage.

Plus, this year, Internet-only advertising campaigns are eligible for the first time, so a whole new group of creative will be entered.

We interviewed EFFIE volunteer Nina Abnee, EVP Account Director, Leo Burnett USA, to find out what judges are looking for.

"Judges want to read an interesting case and say, 'Wow, that is great. Congratulations to these people. They had a tough challenge, the creative is great, and they had dramatic results,'" she explains. "That's the response you want to get from these judges."

Abnee knows what she's talking about: Leo Burnett has been the most EFFIE-awarded agency in each of the last three years (tying last year with J. Walter Thompson), and she is also on the EFFIE Steering Committee. Her seven best tips:

-> Tip #1. Entry form should hang together as a single piece

The top mistake Abnee has seen in submissions is that the briefs look like they were all written by different people, as though, "the account executive wrote the marketing situation, the media professional wrote the media section, the creative director wrote the strategy, and they don't hang together," she says.

Judges want the various submission sections to form a single, cohesive whole.

-> Tip #2. Tell a compelling story

The best way to grab a judge's attention is in the telling of the story. After all, she says, case studies of successful advertising campaigns are interesting, so capitalize on that.

Clearly articulate the marketing situation, the challenge, the solution, and the results. Some hints:

--A little drama is always nice, Abnee says, but even if your challenge was to maintain market share, that can be exciting. "I've read fabulous cases where the problem was simply to maintain volume in a declining category," she says. "I've been in business for 20 years and I've yet to see the business where it's such a cakewalk that there's no challenge. There's always a new threat, or else we wouldn't have jobs."

--Be sure to include your thinking behind the solution you used: why did you choose that strategy?

--Don't try to include everything but the kitchen sink. Your case should tell a good story, but "mostly it's an executive summary," Abnee says.

-> Tip #3. Avoid wall-to-wall copy

Don't try to include every possible detail in the space available, and don't use a font smaller than 10 point. "I'd prefer it to be 12 point," Abnee says. "It's a better case if you don't try to cram in more information than is needed."

-> Tip #4. Write for high-level marketing professionals (but avoid industry speak)

Judges are high-level marketing professionals, so write your case to that level, Abnee suggests.

On the other hand, don't include too much industry specific acronyms and labels. A few years ago, she mentions, an agency wrote about a campaign that they were measuring against stores such as Wal-Mart, and they kept writing "The Marts."

Agencies in the fast food industry might refer to QSR's (quick service restaurants), which again, judges won't necessarily understand. "Think about your mother," Abnee recommends. "Your mother may not be able to judge the case, but she should be able to understand it."

If success in your industry is measured in a way that might not be understood by people outside your category, be sure to include a simple sentence that explains how you measure success.

-> Tip #5. Make sure the challenge and the results match

Winning an EFFIE is about a creative idea and a campaign -- but the campaign must drive results.

Judges will look to make sure the results match the objective. "You might have fabulous hits to the Web site, but if that wasn't in the objective, we don't care," she says.

-> Tip #6. Show the judges you care about your submission

This means following the rules, adhering to space restrictions, and proofreading your submission.

"If they think you don't care enough to be sure it's proofread, they'll judge you down," Abnee says.

-> Tip #7. A word on Internet-only campaigns

There shouldn't be any difference in entering an Internet-only campaign versus any other campaign. Simply tell "what was unique about what you did creatively that drove those results."

Abnee encourages people not to enter a campaign simply on the basis of, "Oh, look how cool we are, we used the Internet."

Rather, tell the marketing situation and objectives, and why online was the best way to reach those objectives. "If you really do only online advertising and had good results, that's a fabulous case story," she says.

Make sure you include a short sentence describing exactly how your online success was to be measured.

Now, here's a link to that nominations form for you: http://www.effie.org

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