Why awards?

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Why awards?
Posted on December 5, 2019 by Simon Dunn

It’s freezing out. But inside it’s hot, hot, hot! 870 research and insight people partying like it’s, well, 2019. On Monday 2 December I was lucky enough to join the Quirk’s table at the MRS Awards in Old Billingsgate right on the Thames in the City of London. And a very good time was had by all.

But these events are not only about celebration. While the winners cheered and the champagne corks popped I was thinking about all the companies that were not there. Indeed, without in any way suggesting that the winners were not utterly worthy, after several years of attending these awards it does seem that broadly the same companies – whether agencies or clients – step up to the podium.

So, what is their winning formula and what can others do to join them?

1- No matter what anyone says, winning an award like the MRS (or the ones that ESOMAR give) is in no way related to how much money you spend with the association, channel or publisher. When I have been involved in judging, the decision has always been taken entirely on the merit of the entry, frequently on a ‘blind’ basis.

2- Read the brief. It’s astonishing how little some people answer the questions or fulfil the criteria the judges are looking for. Be precise with this and build the entry from that.

3- Avoid hyperbole. Although the calls for submissions often indulge in this (“we are looking for original creativity, ground-breaking, transformational insights” etc etc), you must have the hard evidence and not just the fluffy language to deliver.

4- If you are an agency and do not have the client example to deliver the data to prove your case, then offer to partner with a client in order to devise an experiment to use in an entry. If you are a client and want to put your team on the map, ask and agency if they are willing to partner on a new project to get award-winning material.

5- Think ahead. You need to ensure you are tracking the data you need over time. You need to prove that what you are doing is working. To get that data you need to put things in place to measure and demonstrate improvements. You can’t do this the week before the award entry has to be written.

6- Get different opinions. It is always beneficial to get several different people to review and read through an entry. Imagine you are a judge and coming to it blind. Is it totally clear? Have you delivered all your evidence in a really compelling way? Can you include visuals and work with the layout to make it even stronger?

7- Finally, do great work! Ultimately the winners are those who have genuinely moved the industry forward, changed insights for better and done it with imagination and flair. If this is you, stop hiding your light under a bushel!

Winning awards really does deliver huge benefits – from awareness and profile to business growth and recruitment. But you are never going to win if you don’t enter, so why not make 2020 your year?