The Drum Awards Agencies

The Drum Awards for Marketing judges share what they’ll be looking for from entrants


By Richard Draycott, Associate Editor

March 20, 2024 | 6 min read

With around two weeks left to enter the competition, we took the opportunity to catch up with some of this year’s jury to ask them what really makes a submission stand out.

Nora Zukauskaite

Lottie London CMO Zukauskaite on benefits of entering awards

As The Drum Awards for Marketing’s extensive judging panel of CMOs, from brands including Dunkin’,, HSBC, Adidas, Pret A Manger, Unilever, Bayer, Audi, Barbour, Uber, Deliveroo and Continental, prepare to pore over this year’s entries, we asked them to share their insights into what will make an entry stand out for them.

Lottie London’s CMO, Nora Zukauskaite, says that entering awards is a genuinely effective way for an agency to get on to the radar of a CMO or brand marketers that they want to build a relationship with.

Zukaiskaite tells us: “As a judge of The Drum Awards for Marketing, you learn a lot about solution providers and agencies and who are experts in their field. As a CMO, that insight helps in the future when you’re thinking about potential suppliers and agencies. Judging helps you quickly say to yourself, ‘I know which agency can do this, or I know which agency did this well and delivered tangible results.'

“Judging awards is like getting access to a bible of inspiration. For example, in last year’s awards, I was given data and insight entries to judge and the business case studies I read were fascinating in the sense that as a CMO, you really don’t know what business problems many other industries are facing until you read about them during a judging session. You learn a lot and you get really inspired to try new and different things.”

Natalie Wills, the EMEA brand vice-president at, meanwhile emphasizes that at The Drum Awards for Marketing, size (in terms of budget, business or brand) doesn’t matter at all: “The Drum Awards for Marketing focus on outcomes, not outputs, to show that any team of any size can prove their campaigns had a real impact. You don’t need a big budget to truly understand your customer and there are many brands out there who deserve recognition for all their hard work.”

Hamza Ayub at Dunkin’ advises entrants to ensure that their submissions make a big impression early on. “To stand out, make sure your entries present a clear and compelling story that outlines your specific marketing challenge. The executive summary is crucial and judges always start there, so provide a clear and engaging overview of the entry, including the objectives, that X factor and the results.

“An entry also has to be authentic. And by that, I mean the end result has come out of a genuine business requirement. I need to see a genuine brief from the client. We are not looking for entries made purely to win awards. The authenticity factor is what I give a lot of weight to when judging.”

Jessica Murphy, senior vice-president at Hasbro, says she is thrilled to be judging this year’s competition and offers the following to entrants: “Don’t forget to include your KPIs and the results your work delivered. I’ll be awarding extra points for great creative and an explainer video that brings the campaign to life.”

The co-founder and managing director of Novos, Samuel Hurley, suggests: “Start your entry with the initial objectives – the why – and connect them clearly with the results – what you achieved. The middle part of the application should build out the how behind the overall achievement.”

LinkedIn vice-president of brand marketing Santi Pochat says people writing entries should think hard about what they need to include and what is unnecessary to tell the story. “I think the adage ‘less is more’ comes into play here. Sometimes, we have the instinct to include every single bit and bob of the campaign, but you end up with a lot of fluff that doesn’t actually drive the story forward. You should be thinking about your entry and making sure your story is very crisp and clear.”

A stickler for detail, Mari Carrasquillo, vice-president of marketing and e-commerce at Costa Farms, has this reminder for entrants: “Make sure you check your grammar. And remember, this is an entry report, so ensure that you complete all the fields so that the judges don’t miss any of the important elements of your campaign and what made it work well.”

Venkata Vhonagiri, senior partner, group director, data strategy and analytics at Mindshare, says he is looking for marketing that genuinely breaks the boundaries in 2024: “Entries should demonstrate unique and innovative approaches. Creativity in strategy, design and execution is a crucial aspect of successful digital campaigns.”

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Julia Linehan, founder and CEO at The Digital Voice, says: “You’ve got to be in it to win it. If you do not enter, you will never ever know, so write from the heart and go for it.”

The extended entry deadline closes on Thursday, April 4.

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