Last week I was utterly immersed in judging creativity. While our own Immortal Awards were proceeding with local and regional judging sessions, some of which I was able to sit in on to catch the discussion of the work, I was also able to spend a day as a fully fledged judge for the DMA Awards.
I was lucky enough to be selected as part of the jury for the Best Thoughtful Marketing Campaign Category, defined as the ‘category for B2B or B2C marketing campaigns or initiatives that have demonstrated true compassion for their customers or society more broadly.’
The first thing that struck me when I arrived at the central-London venue was the scale of the judging operation. Each category had a (real-life and physical!) jury room, with a screen, individual tablets for each judge to assess work, and a DMA representative in each conference room.
The category judges were an impressive mix of relevant disciplines - creatives, strategists, media, data and brand experts. Then me with my experience of never having worked on a marketing campaign before, but having seen and passed judgement on hundreds nevertheless.
This elite team / motley crew was brought to order by category chair Charlotte Langley, VP brand and communications at Bloom & Wild, the brand that invented letterbox flowers and a vocal proponent of marketing taking a thoughtful approach to the consumer.
Before looking at the entries, Charlotte ran through what we should be looking to award, breaking down the specifics of the category description:
What can you enter?
Work that truly puts the customer first by recognising, understanding, and acting on an individual’s, business’ or society’s circumstances to go above and beyond normal service and be a force for good. This work could be Corporate Social Responsibility or other purpose led initiatives, it could be where a brand has partnered with a charity, or it could be an example of a brand prioritising ‘doing the right thing’ over driving a short-term sales uplift.
After a morning of assessing and rating work in private on our tablets, we began our discussion of which campaigns were particularly great examples of thoughtful marketing.
Much of the judges’ back-and-forth was around what constitutes thoughtfulness in a marketing campaign, whether work for a client whose whole business-as-usual mode is thoughtfulness can be compared to work for a client whose primary purpose is commercial.
Each entry was subjected to consideration of whether the campaign had gone above and beyond what was necessary for the brand.
The entries varied in their nature from smart charity campaigns that thoughtfully engaged with the zeitgeist to large-scale brand campaigns for global companies that put a societal purpose at the centre.
Some of the most insightful debate focused on how to fairly compare results in each of these campaigns - and what metrics were the correct ones to pay attention to, specifically, when considering the ‘thoughtfulness’ of these campaigns.
Eventually, our discussion and voting resulted in a shortlist of campaigns that we felt fulfilled the category’s goals.
Here are the five campaigns we put through:
Agency: Digitas UK and Saatchi & Saatchi
Client: BT Group
I Belong Here: The Olympics: Tokyo 2020
Agency: Ogilvy UK
Client: International Olympic Committee and The Coca-Cola Company
Juxtaposing the Mission to Mars with 'The Girl Who Built A Rocket'
Agency: The Kite Factory
Let's Talk The Joys of Later Life Sex
Agency: Ogilvy UK
Client: Virgin Media
I left the day’s judging having considered the marketing industry from angles I don’t usually see it from. I’d met and reconnected with some smart (and ‘thoughtful’) industry people. And I’d hopefully made myself useful in adding my opinions to the task of celebrating work that inspires the industry to be more thoughtful.
I look forward to finding out what work won at the DMA Awards Night 2021 on Tuesday 7 December.
Thanks to the DMA for including me in this process and to the Best Thoughtful Marketing Campaign category sponsor Bloom & Wild.