The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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Digital Industry Ross Sleight Rhona Bradshaw

How to win a Dadi award: Chairman, judges and past winners share their tips ahead of Friday's entry deadline


By The Drum Team, Editorial


The Drum Awards for Digital Industries article

June 3, 2015 | 7 min read

Awards juries are mysterious things. What really goes on behind their closed doors? What makes one piece of work triumph over another? And what exactly does it take to catch the judges' eyes?

As we hurtle towards this Friday's entry deadline for the Dadi Awards in association with Workfront, which rewards digital excellence, we thought we'd put some of the 2015 judges on the spot to find out exactly what they'll be looking for this year.

So if you're putting the finishing touches to your entries or seeking some last-minute inspiration, heed this advice on what it takes to win at the UK's top digital awards...

Phil Jones, chairman of the judges

I have been chairing the Dadi Awards for eight years since its inception and have the pleasure of choosing the judges each year but thank goodness none of the responsibility of judging the work. I say that because it really is hard work and demands a lot of concentration over a short period of time.

Some work is so spectacular that it jumps out at every judge and is obviously shortlisted for awards in categories. However some work is less obvious and the surface needs to be scratched in order to find the nuggets that make it worthy of an award. My advice to agencies is to spend a little longer on the entry copy and try and highlight those points on the entry form to make it easier for a busy judge to take note and explore the entry in more depth.

Great work always rises to the top of the pile but sometimes the difference between a winner and a loser can be an extra five minutes spent on articulating the entry.

Wayne Deakin, judge and Grand Prix winner 2014

I was lucky enough to win the Grand Prix last year [for a Tesco Mobile campaign with previous agency Jam] and it is always difficult to say why you think you won. Awards by their nature are always subjective but that enduring ‘big ideas’ phrase is still very much at the centre of what I look for. I think its still at the core of what I hope most judges look for.

Yes, it sounds very clichéd and that expression might have got a kicking in recent years but in this multiple device, attention-deficit world it is even more important than ever to celebrate ideas that can be universal, simple and create influence.

The real interesting bit is how ideas live up to that term ‘big’ in today’s digital world? Use of storytelling, data, mobile-first, new platforms, social, real-time creativity, digital to physical, programmatic, wearables, etc.. gives us an exciting and amazing playground to create ideas that with digital can go anywhere and create real change and impact at an amazing pace like never before.

So I will be looking out for ‘big ideas’ that slap me in the face and say ‘Ha! Who’s the Dadi’. Good thing is they can be spotted a mile away and don’t need dressing up with over-slick case study videos and over zealous inflated results.

Wayne Deakin is executive creative director at Doner

Pete Petrella, judge and partner at Black Book London

I’m a fan of the Dadi awards because it’s a genuine mix of work that works.

With that in mind, I’ll be looking for ideas – ‘big’ or small – that have made a REAL, tangible impact to the businesses they have been developed for.

What will score highly in my view? Work that excels at delivering growth, positive change and is in harmony with the experience a person has with the brand overall, and doesn't just deliver vanity measures.

We’ve heard lots of talk of how data can empower creativity to help digital marketers find new ways to connect with their audiences so I’m interested to see how much of this is being put into practice.

Having said that, the most effective work usually comes from the magic blend of a good insight answered with a brilliant creative leap. I doubt any of us will need a signpost for those.

Rhona Bradshaw, judge and director of digital, Virgin Media

I'm hoping to see innovation in their ways of thinking, in their ways of approaching problems – how they resolve them. I'm looking forward to seeing how they take quite generic user behaviour and customer behaviour and translate it into how it's appropriate for their world.

I'm trying to see how other companies are approaching the digital-first agenda and that 'customer-centricity' kind of role. It's pretty much the buzzword of the moment and the way in which people are moving but I think few companies have really managed to make it work within their own space. Relevance is incredibly important in making it successful. That's why I'm interested to see how they translate that.

Customers are not that complex. Every brand is pretty much trying to deal with similar issues because ultimately it's about customer behaviour. How they approach it, how they deal with it is where the interesting thing comes along.

Ross Sleight, judge and chief strategy officer, Somo

I hope to see an integrated approach – not just across multiple digital screens such as desktop, smartphone and tablet, but also across offline media – and how that approach has been adapted for the role of each media in the customer journey. So not a one-size-fits-all approach, or a lead medium, other media support approach, but a truly integrated approach showing the benefits of each platform at each stage of the customer journey. We are now 20+ years in digital so it's time we focused on this integration.

I'll also hope to see more focus on engagement strategies such as content creation and co creation than pure advertising performance, and I hope we will see more entries focusing on the development of relationships post purchase rather than purely focusing on acquisition strategies.

Do’s and don’ts? Do look for the hidden gems in entries and display them well – it's finding the points of differentiation that really shine that makes an entry light up. Do rewrite an entry several times to get it tight and concise – pages and pages of entry background just don't get considered in the same way as a tightly written single page.

Don't lie or make up figures. Don't get your sums wrong in proving effectiveness, especially on ROI. Don't hype -– the quality of the work should speak for itself.

For more information on the Dadi Awards, and to enter, visit The Dadis is open for entries until Friday 5 June.

Digital Industry Ross Sleight Rhona Bradshaw

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