Home Awards Effies 2023 Countdown: The 10 Rules for Judging

Effies 2023 Countdown: The 10 Rules for Judging

Charley Stoney, CEO, IAPI and Neal Davies, CEO BBDO Dublin

With considerable expertise in the Effies worldwide, Neal Davies, CEO of BBDO Dublin offers some tips and insights into judging the awards and what judges need to take into account.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of my involvement with the Effies. Back in 2003 I was part of a team which won the Grand Effie in North America for an amazing creative campaign for a brand within the Hilton hotel group.

The obvious joke is to say that when you start with a Grand Effie, it’s all downhill from there, but it’s also worth stressing that the richness of a long and engaged relationship with the Effies isn’t always defined by trophies. Really, it’s all about judging.

Although trophies are nice.

Ten years after that Grand Effie, I was privileged to join Effie Worldwide in their New York headquarters as chief executive. That exposure to countless awards programs and judging sessions around the world—as well as serving as jury chair for many national, regional and global Effie awards—exposed me to a lot of the technicalities of judging, but more importantly, highlighted things which I came to define as The Spirit of Effie.

At the inaugural Effie Ireland programme two years ago, IAPI’s Charley Stoney asked me to give a brief opening address to the assembled judges, and in turn, that became the basis of this piece. Although not everyone reading this will be a judge, I believe that the 10 rules that constitute The Spirit of Effie are an important part of our ongoing roles as marketers. These rules are as follows:

  1. Effie is a forum for learning.
  2. There is no definition of effectiveness.
  3. …but don’t lose sight of effectiveness.
  4. Judge with an eye on keeping the case alive.
  5. Be consistent across categories.
  6. The two types of errant judges.
  7. Things to ask yourself as a judge.
  8. Always go with your gut.
  9. Savour the moment.
  10. Have fun. This doesn’t happen nearly enough.

The first is a simple one: Effie is a forum where the industry comes together to determine effectiveness, where we hold ourselves and our work accountable to the judgment of our peers. As a result, it’s a forum for learning and as a judge, you should always leave the session thinking: “hell, I learned something today.”

Secondly, there are no published definitions of effectiveness. The author of each case proposes a unique case for effectiveness, something which each judge—based on their experience and expertise of qualifying as a judge—has the right to agree or disagree with. If you’re a judge, you’re in the room for a reason.

That said, thirdly, don’t lose sight of effectiveness: (i.e. the brand and business impact of the case). That’s why you’re in the room. It’s easy to get swayed by emotion, or the impact of a great reel. (See also number 7). You should always judge the creative as a constituent part of the case and a driver of effectiveness, not in isolation or as a proxy for the case itself.

Number 4: you should always judge with an eye on keeping the case alive and don’t actively look for reasons to disqualify. DQ is always a last option. Discuss with your other judges first.

Next, you should be consistent across categories. You often see softer judging in specialty categories versus product and service categories, so always look at the results in the context of the category.

Number 6 is a reminder that that there are two types of errant judges: those who look at the creative reel first and those who go to the results first. Both are equally wrong. Read the case!

Our seventh rule is a list of things to ask yourself as a judge:

  • Do I understand this case? (Have they told me what I need to know to award it appropriately?)
  • Would I be proud of this case if it was my work?
  • Have I learned anything from it? Have I learned anything from the discussion with my fellow judges?
  • Am I prioritizing business and brand impact? Have I been swayed by emotion? Have I been swayed by the reel? (Effie is not a competition for best reel: it is about effectiveness. And in fact, the only obligation to the author of the case is to show the work as it ran in market – they don’t have to supply a reel. If they choose to add voiceover or narrative that’s up to them, but it should NEVER supersede the written case in its explanatory nature. That’s why the reel cannot contain results)
  • Am I judging it fairly? That is, am I free from bias or being swayed by emotion.

Number 8 tallies with number 2 above: Always go with your gut. You are in the room because you have been selected on the basis of your experience and expertise. If YOU think something is good, it probably is. If you think someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes, you’re probably right too…

Number 9 is a simple reminder that it’s a privilege to be in that room and be with those other judges. The final rule is to have fun.

Effie judging is a unique experience. Enjoy it.

Previous articleEffies 2023 Countdown: Final Round of Judging to Take Place Next Week
Next articleOut \ Look: High Anticipation for Rugby World Cup