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How to win The Drum Awards in 2020: start early and know your narrative


By Dani Gibson, Senior Writer

November 25, 2019 | 8 min read

The Drum Awards are gearing up for another round of recognising the very best the advertising, marketing, digital and media industries have to offer.

awards panel

How to win The Drum Awards 2020

Jury alumni Cadi Jones, commercial director of Beeswax and Wayne Deakin, executive creative director at Huge joined The Drum Content Awards Grand Prix winner, Will Sansom, joint head of strategy of The Brooklyn Brothers at a breakfast panel session earlier this month to discuss what exactly makes an award-winning entry.

Sensitive data

It takes time and great crafting when it comes to pulling in client data and distilling it into numbers that tell an amazing story, which gives insight but doesn't give away sensitive business details or information that is wrong.

Signing off sensitive data can also be a hard task to complete.

Deakin: Part of the trick is to start early. It's an opportunity for clients to get exposure themselves and a secret tool for brands to use to market themselves and their purpose.

Make sure you work with the client early on to give you the information familiar with them, rather than bringing it up the day before the entry deadline and asking for all their sensitive data. They've got to ask many stakeholders whereas if you prep them beforehand, it makes an easier conversation.

Jones: You can also think outside the box on data. From the entries that I've seen, the thing that people really don't like to share is how much they've spent. That's not necessarily the biggest thing we're looking for.

Could you show things in percentage terms? Can you show ranges? I love a graph. It doesn't have to have all of the data in that to show how effective it is. You can find ways of showing things and making it really clear of the impact you had without necessarily revealing the client's budget.

If there's any way you can get the client on board to share the budget and open up on that then do. But if you absolutely can't, it's not something we mark people down for. As long as there's some quantifiable progress against your objectives.

Sansom: Water Wipes are quite a young brand. We told them we wanted to tell the story of this campaign in the best way possible and the way to do that is to support it with data so we had evidence to back up our claims. We then showed them what we put in and asked if there was anything that they're not comfortable with but know that we've done this to tell the story of the campaign in the best way to represent the brand and what it's achieved in the best way. They were pretty good about it. But I know for every brand that is cool about it there's about 10 that are not happy with showing the results at all.

Creating award-winning submission

The Brooklyn Brothers recently won the Grand Prix and three other awards at The Drum Content Awards, for their work with baby wipes brand, Water Wipes. The panel explored the reasons why.

Sansom: We didn't have a process. A lot of bigger agencies do have dedicated teams, processes in place for doing this. We definitely didn't. The most important part of the process for us was making sure we carved out ample time to get the right people in the room looking at this. Looking at the quality of some of the case studies, the budget that goes into them this absolutely insane. We can't compete with that.

We were trying to communicate an emotive campaign through words on a page. It sounds trite and it is. We needed to fill a box with 200 words, communicating the emotion of a mum admitting on camera that she didn't connect with her baby in the first six months. That's the bit that hits you when you watch it, so how would you convey that to paper? That's just going to be flipped through. That was the biggest challenge for us.

For the judges, an award-winning submission can vary but at the end of the day, the narrative is key whether your entry is creative, digital or report based.

Deakin: Know the category you want to win. Know the story you want to win and make that as simple and easy around that category. Don't hedge your bets on other categories because that's harder.

Also, be simple and brutally honest with yourself. Understand the narrative that you're going to tell and really understand how does that narrative and how does that category collide together. Having people who can view it from an onlooker point of view is really important. We circulate in this little world where we look at ourselves, pat ourselves on the back and often you're talking to a very different group of people with jurors. The more human and simple it is, the more chance you have to win.

Jones: On the ad tech side of things, a lot of companies have very similar technologies. It's quite hard to call out the differences without going into really quite technical depth. In a room of judges, you might have those who are technically savvy and others who don't have that high level of understanding. You have to make it simple but really call out why it's different in plain language. Get your mum to read your submission, your other half or someone who doesn't work in the industry. If they don't understand and it's not clear enough, then work on the language until it is clear enough.

Entering multiple categories

Sometimes entering multiple categories seems like the best approach, even if your report doesn't tick all the boxes. The more you enter, the more likely chance you have to win, right?

Jones: I don't mind seeing the same entry multiple times as long as it has been rewritten for that category. No copy and pasting. The objectives of each category are really quite different. I expect to see some difference in how that's tackled. But if you have one campaign that really corresponds accurately to three different awards, then go for it.

Deakin: Perhaps you're entering a social campaign. And you want to know what category to enter. Is it sort of a broad range digital category, is it social, is it writing for social etc. Where you have an award entry that can sort of tick a few boxes, that's fine. The thing I get annoyed about is repeated case studies that aren't tailored to each category. It's the same case study submitted across categories without considering which details are relevant to the category. It only ticks part of the box.

Think about why this is being entered into this category. What is the supporting material that might make the judge think they haven't shotgunned it into every category.

Sansom: It comes back to what's the story. What's the most interesting thing. If it's an interesting story in Print which is genuinely a different approach, then cool let's do it. But if it's an innovation in social that happened to have a print element, then don't enter it into Print because the judge is going to look at it and go, there's nothing interesting about that.

When you're entering awards there's stuff that you want to win like Integrated, the big shiny ones, there's stuff you probably stand a better chance of winning in because it's super niche and not many people will enter those and there's the stuff you will probably be able to win

You've got to be hard and honest with yourselves in terms of what sits in the middle of that. We were really hard on ourselves because fundamentally the work was a social campaign. It was all run on social, it was on YouTube and Facebook and Instagram. So it was inherently social content.

The Drum Awards 2020 programme is now open for entry. You can submit your work in various schemes covering marketing, search, digital advertising, creative and design.

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