“The Midas Awards continues to be the only competition that honors advertising and marketing created for financial institutions on a global scale, and the Midas Report aggregates the top performers to create the definitive “who’s-who” in the field. This information doesn’t exist anywhere else, and considering the challenges faced by a team working on these accounts, goes beyond mere recognition for individual campaigns to reveal the leaders in the industry.” Said Alisun Armstrong, Executive Director of the Midas Awards, in an interview.
Here’s the complete Q&A ….
1. You have been at the helm of the Midas Awards for the past 3 years. What changes have you observed in financial advertising?
I think the biggest change is in the tone. People here in the US may remember the E.F. Hutton ads from the late 70s, which were a little unusual in the financial space for the injection of humor into what was otherwise presented as very serious business and absolutely no laughing matter. From banks to insurance, I think financial companies have been gradually getting a little more and more lighthearted ever since, while dialing back on the air of exclusivity often associated with their services.
There’s also been a serious up-tick in the creativity in sponsorships—it’s going well beyond just hanging a bunch of logo banners or buying stadium naming rights. Advertisers are doing more to include the fans, promote their sport in general, and a lot of them are tying their outreach to also benefit a cause for good.
2. In 2014, you launched the Midas Brand Report. What was your rationale for creating this ranking report?
Gutsy, effective, and creative work deserves credit, and so do the brands that green light it. I felt it was important to honor the brands that trust their creative team—unless they’re on-board, the campaign won’t be running. Successful campaigns in this niche really are something special, and everyone should get their chance in the spotlight.
3. What changes are in store for the 2015 competition? What new categories were unveiled this year to address emerging trends?
The biggest change is the addition of the Effectiveness category, added at the suggestion of a few judges and entrants over the last few years. Campaigns submitted in this category are evaluated not just on the idea and execution, but the jury will also take the results provided into consideration when they decide their scores.
4. The Midas Jury includes client and agency leaders from the creative and marketing disciplines, as well as internationally recognized experts in financial policy and communications. How do you go about recruiting this gold-standard team?
The jury plays such a crucial part in any awards competition, and not just because they score the entries and ultimately decide the winners. The jury is also the face of the competition, its street cred. The panel also shapes the details of the competition through their feedback and suggestions. So I keep an eye on who’s making news in the industry, and what campaigns are getting a lot of attention and who’s behind them. We also accept nominations. But I also tap a very valuable internal source: our winners. They’re already familiar with the competition. They’re already fans. Plus, they’ve demonstrated that they can create the World’s Best Financial Advertising, so I know they’ll recognize it when scoring.
5. What global regions are emerging as creative leaders in the financial communications industry? Which countries consistently the park with brilliant, award-winning work?
South Africa is a powerhouse. They’ve been steadily gaining ground over the last few years, and with 13 Midas Gold Awards and three agencies on the Midas Report, they are the country to beat. The US continues to be a dominant force, with Canada, Turkey, and the UAE also making some waves.
6. What is the criteria Midas judges use for evaluating entries?
The first round of scoring, which determines the Shortlist, parses the evaluation of the work into its essentials through a three-tiered matrix: idea (40% of the overall score), brand relevance (35%), and execution (25%). The second round adopts the more standard one-to-ten rating to decide the Silvers, Golds, and Grand.
7. What is the ROI for agencies entering the Midas Awards?
Aside from getting an impressive, heavy, shiny gold or silver ingot to add to their awards displays, Midas winners benefit from the exposure offered in our Winners Showcase, as well as our results announcements that go out to press organizations around the world. We feature our winners in our weekly newsletters and in social media. We also partner with organizations like AdForum, where the top winners enjoy additional showcasing of their work.
8. Why is the Midas Report an important creative ranking?
The Midas Awards continues to be the only competition that honors advertising and marketing created for financial institutions on a global scale, and the Midas Report aggregates the top performers to create the definitive “who’s-who” in the field. This information doesn’t exist anywhere else, and considering the challenges faced by a team working on these accounts, goes beyond mere recognition for individual campaigns to reveal the leaders in the industry.
9. What makes an entry a standout award-winner?
Based on comments from the Grand Jury like “daring,” “riveting,” “great concept,” “smart,” “clever,” and “terrific idea!” on the top-scoring campaigns, it seems like the idea reigns supreme. While execution is always important, the jury wants to see work that “makes the world of (savings/insurance/finance) interesting.” If instead you want to invoke the ire of the Grand Jury and ensure your work does not get recognized, submit something that would elicit comments like, “generic,” “boring!” and “bank-like and uninspired.”
10. What advice would you give to creatives entering the Midas Awards for the first time? Any inside tips?
I strongly recommend starting off by reading the rules and regulations carefully—there’s a lot of information in there that will help you understand the process from the get-go. I’m also a firm believer in proofreading before hitting submit.
But first and foremost, I recommend that you let the work speak for itself. Keep the longer-form answers short and to the point, make sure any results reported are defendable, and make sure your case video (if you have one) is well-paced and trimmed to only include what’s necessary.