Swipe Right to Keep

I was recently afforded the opportunity to judge the Hatch Awards, New England’s regional award show for creative branding and marketing. It was my first time judging, and the experience felt like two-days of intense speed dating, drinks included. Swipe right to keep, swipe left to nix.

I was one of 14 judges from all sides of the industry covering traditional and digital - design, copy, video, and press. The first day we moved fast to parse out the keepers. We spent about a minute per entry. If any of the judges said “in,” the entry survived the day’s cut. Half the work was eliminated the first day. Day two, we ranked the remaining entries one to four. We now had a good sense of the range of the work and continued to narrow the pool.

We spent the most time discussing the three best-in-show contenders.

So what did I learn? Three days, twelve hours a day in a room filtering through a lot of advertising is tiring.

When you enter work, you have to remember that the judges are bombarded with ideas. You have very little time to leave an impression. So what actually matters? Here’s some things to consider next time you are submitting for an award:

  1. The most important factors were strategy, the idea, and the final piece of work. We didn’t have enough time to watch the case videos or go over performance metrics.
  2. It’s critical to enter work into the right category. We dinged entries entered in the wrong category regardless of execution. Entering ideas in multiple categories backfires when the same set of judges evaluate all the categories. From the judge’s point of view, the work loses freshness when it’s seen multiple times, especially when the category is a stretch.
  3. Video was huge. The largest category, video, captured the “sadvertising” storytelling trend. It was also the most contested when the link back to the brand was tenuous.
  4. It’s important to present the work in context, where it actually lives for the audience.
  5. Don’t submit just to submit. Don’t enter mediocre work.
  6. Press makes an impact. It helped an entry if the judges were familiar with it.
  7. The work that stood, often had the smallest budget.
  8. Overall, the experience left me feeling that POSSIBLE is on point with our focus on content and experience in digital and social because the standout entries were all in digital and social

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