Five Lessons I Learnt attending Monster Judging School

August 27th, 20102:33 pm @ admin

Five Lessons I Learnt attending Monster Judging School

I recently had the chance to be a fly on the wall at our latest Monster Judging. It was the first time I’d attended such a thing, so I didn’t really know what to expect.

The room was full of very smart people, all industry leaders in their own right. Worldwide Chief Creative Officer. Global Creative Director. Chief Digital Officer. Executive Creative Director. Clearly, I didn’t belong there, so I thought the least I could do, other than keep my mouth clearly shut, was to learn a thing or two.

So here’re the five lessons/pieces of advice I picked from my Monster Judging experience. Hopefully they’ll shed some light into how some decisions are made, and help you win tons more awards in the future.

Don’t let your ideas down by going small.

A lot of the entries submitted seemed to fall into that category. Clever, charming ideas let down because they were executed on such a small scale. In most cases, the opportunity was there to go bigger and impact more people, but the seemingly easier option of going small and filming everything for the purpose of a catchy two minutes award show entry video usually took over.

As a result some entries felt manufactured and ideas that could potentially have solved real business issues for clients ended up as short-lived stunts that didn’t have much of overall impact.

Categories don’t matter anymore. They probably never did.

When we first launched the award show, this was our biggest claim. It doesn’t make sense to categorize work into pre-conceived silos anymore. Consumers don’t do it. The only people who think, or even know of categories are ad-people. Walking past a billboard, you would never think “here’s an Outdoor, Billboard & Street Furniture, Toiletries ad for Gillette razors”. Or at least, I hope you wouldn’t.

This wasn’t a new idea, but for some reason the industry seems to have a tough time getting rid of that old habit. Categorizing work is obsolete, but if we must there should only be two categories for us to consider : good and bad.

I was happy and somewhat relieved to see that our results mirrored this fact. Our winners consist of a music video, a tool to make us better drivers, a Firefox Add-on, a social-media powered event and an iPhone application. It’s okay to compare apples and oranges.

Don’t limit your creative thinking to your ad ideas.

For this one, I’m going to single out a campaign. Killzone 2 Webgame. It was the first time, as far as I know, that somebody had used Firefox add-ons as a direct way to advertise a brand.

It was a case of “outfoxing the media” so to speak. Online media is pretty traditional when you think about it. You buy your banner space, upload your video, launch your microsite, promote your Facebook group, whatever. You’re always going to the media, and as soon as you leave that website, you’re also leaving the advert behind. What Killzone 2 achieved, was that instead of the user having to go somewhere to see the ad, it was now following him wherever his online journey took him.

The idea is devastatingly simple, and was there for us all to see, but it took somebody looking beyond traditional online media options to make it happen.

Are heavy brand engagement websites really relevant anymore?

This perhaps turns a significant page in the web’s history. I’ve had these conversations with a few people beforehand, and I think Dominique Trudeau from bleublancrouge sums it up best, so I am going to quote him:

“We’re at the Google years and we want efficiency, speed and results. Tools that will help us get our stuff done. So our challenge today is not to do heavy experiences with high production value but very few results down the line.

Things move fast and you got to catch people as they go in this crazy mode. So I think we can do efficient communications in doing less heavy stuff and more things that can help them. We have to follow the way people live.”

This rings true for a number of things that were entered. We received a lot of beautiful, often very flash-heavy submissions that felt more like digital ghost towns than anything else. Branded utility isn’t a new concept by any means. Consumers’ time is harder and harder to get by online and if you want to grab a fraction of it, so you better be giving them something worthy in return. But you better give it to them, in a quick, slick and meaningful way.

If entry videos are to be believed, TV Stations, blogs, newspapers, and magazines must spend their time talking about advertising campaigns.

But I watch TV, and read blogs, newspapers and magazines, so I know that’s just not true. And the judges know it, too. A lot of entries made those extremely easy to see through claims, and only ended hurting themselves in the process.

I think we’re probably at the point in award entry videos history  where saying that has become obsolete. And truth be told, press coverage, isn’t much of a judging criteria for the Tomorrow Awards (and most others) and is usually a by-product of a great idea, rather than the other way around.

So just drop it already.

Rafik Belmesk // Managing Director
Tomorrow Awards