25 May 2020 22:36

LEADERSHIP TALK

Alisun Armstrong Executive Director, International AME Awards

"The Social Benefit category group draws more and more entries every year, and every year there are more contenders for the Green Award. It’s wonderful. The winners have all involved clever uses of technology to get their message across. The first, “Save as WWF” from Jung von Matt in Germany, encouraged people to refrain from printing by creating a PDF conversion app; the 2013 winner, “CNN Ecosphere” from CNN International—also in Germany—developed a digital ecosystem in the form of a real-time visualization of the conversation surrounding the UN’s climate change conference, COP 17. Last year’s winner replicated Earth Hour by blacking out landing pages of major Chinese websites. As technology evolves, so does the ability for these green messages to reach more and more people." Said Alisun Armstrong Executive Director of the International AME Awards for Advertising & Marketing Effectiveness – INSIDE AME.

Here's a Q&A with her to delve further into the Awards process and details....

1. What sets AME Awards apart from other advertising award competitions? How has the competition evolved these past years since you have been at the helm

AA: Winning an AME Award means you didn’t just deliver the creative, but also the results—and it’s mostly about the results. The jury gives four separately weighted scores to each entry, and the score for “effectiveness” is the heaviest hitter in the equation. A campaign’s art direction, copywriting, production, etc. can be absolute perfection, but if it didn’t move the needle, it is not an AME winner.

Over the past few years we’ve upgraded both the entry and judging processes, redesigned the website, and started building a resource library to help people develop their entries. We also continue to review and update the categories every year.

2. This year you’ve introduced a robust number of new categories. In the Use of Discipline category alone you’ve introduced Augmented Reality, Technology, and Social TV categories. What was your reasoning behind 2015’s new additions to the roster?

AA: Technology continues to develop at an unbelievable rate. And as soon as something new comes out, creatives find a way to use it for advertising or branding or messaging. All I do is observe and report—I see what’s developing over the year, and make sure the stand-out work has a category. AME Awards is committed to awarding the best and most effective work out there, and that work more and more is coming through new channels.

3. What global campaigns have you seen that would be a great fit for these newly launched categories?

AA: There’s so much cool stuff using these new formats and technologies. My wish-list for Augmented Reality includes the Starbucks holiday coffee cup campaign and IKEA’s interactive catalog. I would love to see Apple’s “Misunderstood,” Google Zeitgeist “Here’s to 2013,” and the T-Mobile Angry Birds Live event in the competition this year for Technology. For Social TV, the work people are doing for “Shark Week,” “Walking Dead” (and not only because I’m a huge fangirl), and the “Eurovision Song Contest” are on my list.

4. AME’s Grand Jury has five separate, regional juries. How do you go about recruiting creatives to judge the competition? What qualities do you look for in an AME juror? In your opinion, what do you think is the toughest part of being on the Grand Jury?

AA: I build the jury through invitation and nomination—I look for people making headlines in the industry, including past AME Award winners, and I also accept recommendations from the AME family.

Judging the World’s Best Advertising and Marketing Effectiveness requires the world’s best judges. A potential judge’s CV is important, of course; so is their experience with award shows—as winners and as judges. But being a juror for this competition is a serious commitment. There’s a lot of reading to do, a lot of case videos to watch, so beyond what a CV can tell me, I’m looking for people who are really excited about the work they’ll see, people who understand that this is a unique competition, people who are really into the idea that it’s not just about creative, it’s about creative and strategy coming together to make something larger than the sum of its parts.

5. What mix of disciplines make up the AME Grand Jury? Is it difficult to achieve balance between them?

AA: I’m looking for top multidisciplinary marketers, media planners, strategy directors, social media specialists, and digital advertising experts. We have people from both sides of the table—agency folks and brand folks. There seems to be a seamless integration of the two, but maybe that’s just because all the judging is done online. Who knows what would happen if we put everyone in a dark room to screen case videos and score entries for hours and hours... Right now the balance of the roster tips more to the agency side, so I’m hoping to get more brands to participate.

6. How does the Grand Jury decide which entries merit an AME Award?

AA: For the first two rounds of judging, the Jury is divided by region (North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Asia Pacific), allowing each entry to be reviewed in its social, economic, and cultural context to determine first the Shortlist and then Medalists. The second round also decides the AME Green Award winner—the highest scoring, Gold-winning entry with an emphasis on resource conservation and negative environmental impact. For the third and final round of judging, the jury comes together as one big, international panel to determine the Platinum winners for each region from amongst the Gold Award winners. The campaign from this round that earns the highest score is awarded the highest honor in the AME Awards, the AME Grand.

Each entry is scored on its own merits (vs. competing against other entries in the same category). Judges are asked to evaluate specific criteria when scoring, and provide four separate, weighted scores for each entry according to the following matrix:

•Challenge/Strategy/Objectives – 20%

•Creativity – 25%

•Execution – 25%

•Results/Effectiveness – 30%

7. The AME Green Award honors the entry that meets the objectives of a company whose emphasis is on resource conservation and reducing any negative environmental impact. Last year, Bartle Bogle Hegarty China earned the 2014 Green Award for “The Digital Earth Hour – Reaching Millions of People in 1 Hour” for client WWF China. Have you seen an increase in green-themed entries? How have the entries and Green Award winners evolved over the past few years since you’ve been at the helm?

AA: The Social Benefit category group draws more and more entries every year, and every year there are more contenders for the Green Award. It’s wonderful.

The winners have all involved clever uses of technology to get their message across. The first, “Save as WWF” from Jung von Matt in Germany, encouraged people to refrain from printing by creating a PDF conversion app; the 2013 winner, “CNN Ecosphere” from CNN International—also in Germany—developed a digital ecosystem in the form of a real-time visualization of the conversation surrounding the UN’s climate change conference, COP 17. Last year’s winner replicated Earth Hour by blacking out landing pages of major Chinese websites. As technology evolves, so does the ability for these green messages to reach more and more people.

8. In your experience, which AME award-winning campaigns have stood out achieving both creative and ground-breaking execution and while successfully achieving the goals detailed in the brief? Any all-time favorites?

AA:Last year’s Grand winner, “Smart Txtbks” for SMART Communications from DDB DM9 JaymeSyfu in the Philippines is most definitely on my list of all-time faves. It was such a great idea, and had such a tangible impact—it totally blew its campaign brief goals out of the water. “Bentley Burial” from Leo Burnett Tailor Made in Brazil for ABTO is another favorite. It had everything: an eccentric celebrity millionaire, public outrage, and a surprise ending with a valuable object lesson, to boot.

Favorites from past years include “Operation Christmas” Lowe & Partners Columbia for Program for the Humanitarian Attention to the Demobilised, and Grey Melbourne’s “Ripple Effect” for TAC.

You can see I have a soft spot for the Social Benefit winners...

But I love the funny work, too, like “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” from AMVBBDO in the UK for Snickers, and I’m a sap for sweet and sentimental stuff, like “Sandwich,” Abbot Mead Vickers BBDO’s work for PepsiCo in the UK.

9. Do you have any advice or submission tips that you can share with potential entrants?

AA: We actually have a list of 10 entry tips based on feedback from the Grand Jury throughout the years:

"Tell the whole story in a clear and concise manner. Put yourself in the judge’s shoes... do you really want to read every little detail about the campaign?"

"Create something interesting to evaluate"

"Brevity and clarity are an entry's best friend"

"Create a seamless entry, from start to finish"

"Start with the business challenge, then ground us in a cultural or behavioral insight and then present the winning idea which brilliantly connected with the customer. If you over-complicate it or over-explain it, I get suspicious."

"Clearly define the challenge and be convincing when backing up your results"

"Don't create an entry, create a compelling story"

"Live up to the hype. Nothing will kill an entry faster than an unconvincing story about the results"

"Present the idea and then bring it to life"

"Make sure the results relate directly to the challenge that was originally pre

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