Star Awards Showcase


Review by Adam Smith, The Gate Edinburgh

This event is a little reminder of what a brotherly industry we have in Scotland, where people take the time to help their competitors win at awards. Although as Lee Beattie from Wire said, she was telling you “just enough to win awards – not to beat her”. The three speakers Jane Wilson (MediaCom), Kim Wallace (The Scottish Government), and the aforementioned Lee Beattie, each gave 20 minutes of tips. And there was a general familial consensus about what works, and what doesn’t. So, here’s my summary of their talks.

Top Ten Takeaways Tips:

The team works
Get the team who worked on the project to work on the paper. They should all put in ideas, angles, results and insights… but ultimately one person should write it up. And have an independent reader to sense-check it.

The story is the key
As in a campaign itself, the paper hinges on not just facts, but a narrative with beginning, middle and end.

Remember your objectives
Make sure that having set up your objectives at the start, you then demonstrate how your results match up OR if they don’t, but you still have a successful story, show how you moved your thinking on to solve the problem.

Have an attention-grabbing hook
Consider that the judges are probably reading 15 papers (just for this category) late on the evening before the deadline; and go easy on them. Make them want to read your paper with a hook and insight that raises their tired spirits. 

Use the judging criteria as your structure
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. The papers are judged not just as a single score out of 100, but in broken down components that are then added up. Match those components and you know you’re getting points. (Note: you can still win even if you don’t have the perfect results in work - due to the scoring split of the paper)

Client budget not important
MediaCom showed how they’d won with a 15k spend, spent well.

Don’t purpose-wash
If the client objective was to make cash, don’t dress it up as for the good of society.

Dramatise it and bring it to life
The same point about storytelling again, but with a good tip: if there was jeopardy in your development, don’t be afraid to tell they judges the ups and downs of the trail you went on to get to the solution. And you can use storytelling flourishes such as adding quotes and wisdom. The MediaCom paper used a Mandela's quote (“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”) to dramatise translation work they’d done to target non-native language speakers for a travel money campaign. 

To make all of the above happen you need time. Start a month before you think you should. If you leave it to the last moment, almost guaranteed you won’t win – at least not Gold.

So, that's 10 (ok it's 9) but some are worth at least 2. Good luck with this year's papers.

Adam Smith is Creative Director at The Gate Edinburgh.