Annual 2020 Judges Insight: How to Craft a Perfect Submission for Creative Awards

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It's awards season. Right. Don't panic. If you don't know where to start, you're not alone. Winning awards isn't a walk in the park, yet all it takes is a pinch of dedication, care, planning and just about the right quality of work. With little more than a week left to the Annual 2020 late submissions deadline, we made a call to our judging panels asking them to share what they will be looking for in this year's awards.

Here's how to win the Annual 2020 awards, according to our esteemed judges. As many as we could fit in a page, at least.

Winning over the Annual 2020 Judges

''While judging for the 3D category, I'll be looking for a balance of three things.
Technical innovation: demonstrating the latest 3D techniques and knowledge (beyond presets and out of the box features)

Messaging: how is the 3D medium used and involved in telling the message of the entry
Appeal: how strong is the look dev and design demonstrated through layout and rendering

William Torres, Head of CG at Smoke & Mirrors Amsterdam

''I'm looking for work that doesn't look like it was work to make. For work that, when first pitched, must have sounded crazy but then, when produced, looks effortlessly simple in its beauty. The final product would make a viewer trusting that they can relax and enjoy what they're seeing – because it is of the highest quality, to the point of it taking on a life of its own and becoming real.''

Leila Moussaoui, Associate Creative Director at Gut

''I would say that for me the most important thing will be looking for something that will break my whole point of view on creativity, destroy the rules, bend the reality and show a completely different approach to everything I know. I want to see an unexpected gem, a piece of shining diamond in the sea of coal, a beautiful piece of creative poetry backed by immaculate workshop and dipped in the most important thing - HUNGER. Hunger for being a rebel, hunger for finding new ways, hunger for exploring the unexplored. I want to look at things that would wake up my inner child and see myself again sitting on the carpet playing with blocks and seeing different worlds through two pieces of wood and a plastic toy car. I want to see stories, I want to see emotions, I want to see courage.

"I would advise anyone submitting anything in this years Annual to focus on the story. Focus on the tale that you are trying to say, in whichever category. All we do is storytelling, and let's not forget that. The quality of someone's skills or workshop can be better or worse, but the way a work speaks for itself and sweeps us off our feet - This is something that will always be there. Don't be afraid to tell me WHY you did this, I would say that it would be a mistake if you didn't! Tell me why did you paint this car pink, why did you create this explosion made of popcorn in the background or why does your tagline sounds this way and not another. Tell me everything. I promise I will sit and listen to you with a glass of whiskey and a slice of cold pizza. And I promise you one thing, dear participants - If your story is right, then your work will be right, and awards will follow one after another by themselves.

Simon Waloszek, Head of Art at MCH Global

''I'm hoping to see a few outstanding films that makes me turn green of envy. I want to see film that takes full advantage of the power of branded storytelling. That rope me in with a great and surprising script. That dazzles me with never seen before visuals. And that connects with me and breaks down all my defenses through emotions that can only be experienced on the screen.''

Per Pedersen, Global Creative Chariman at Grey Global

''What I hope to see is some entrants who use both brain and heart to achieve a tactical agenda. Smart campaigns meet the requirements and main business objective. Brilliant campaigns however also land emotionally, even inside mind and heart of jury judge :-)
"What is particularly impressive is when entrants show how they went the extra mile, beyond brief. When the great became extraordinary thanks to creativity, grit and ambition. Or when true research and insight about the client's business and markets, lead to unprecedented methods or messaging.

Rasmus Winther, Agency Director at OTW

''What I always look for in work is truth - my favorite pieces of work over the years have all centered around a singular truth that connects with the audience and is executed brilliantly. The other element all my favorite creative shares is simplicity, which is incredibly powerful and equally difficult to achieve.''

Christine Prins, Chief Marketing Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi NY

''I'm so thrilled to join this year's judging for Agency of the Year. As always, I'm excited to see entries where teams demonstrate how they've built winning teams that deliver winning work. The best agencies in my opinion have inspired employees who are encouraged to be bold and who deliver work that drives value for both the brands they serve and the consumers these brands sell to. I look forward to the judging!''

David Shulman, Chief Experience Officer at VMLY&R

''I will look for storytelling techniques. And love to see developments in the visual language. But also finding a good balance between new and familiar elements that will connect with the audience most. And for me it will always cook down to the perfect craft and execution of the work.''

Thorbjorn Ruud, Creative Director/Partner at POL

''For animation I'm always looking for clever and clean keyframes. Why are animators and creators making the decisions they are making and whether or not their techniques surprise and serve the story in a stop-you-in-your-tracks kind of way. For the entrants, I always love an overview or behind-the-scenes of their process as it plays such a heavy role in why they developed the narrative thread the way that they did.''

Will Johnson, Director/Partner at Gentleman Scholar

''I would be looking to see how differentiated the work/idea was and its impact on real life. Relevance & engagement leading to behavioral change would be key parameters fro me. Work presentation matters too. I believe that stories communicate better. If the work is presented as a story, it will do a better job!''

Renuka Marshall, Managing Director at TBWA\Sri Lanka

''As an individual and for my team too, I like to keep things as simple as possible. I would be looking for something similar in the submitted works. What do I mean by simple?
A) defining the objective as accurately as possible
B) gathering the facts that have led us to the objective and what do we want to achieve
C) the approach
D) finally the results

Abhijit Abhyankar, Regional Head of Marketing and Digital Sales South Asia, Middle East & Africa at Cathay Pacific Airways

''Nowadays, platforms like Dribbbble and Behance are full of inspiration. It’s so easy to get lost into an endless scroll and ultimately to create very similar designs. This year I’m going to look at brands that don’t necessarily follow the trends, but that found their voice and personality, brands that are honest and true to their core in every single aspect and material they produce.''

Miruna Macri, Creative Director at Lateral

''I’m looking for work that provides personalized value to the audience in a way that is clearly attributable to the brand. Whether it’s helping them solve a problem, learn something new or simply giving them a quick laugh, it’s all about what the brand provides the user in return for their attention.''

Mark Shewmaker, ECD at Organic

''Digital is such a broad scope that I would like to see something that utilizes digital channels in a fresh and smart way. Ideas and campaigns that understand how the customer works and thinks and then are able to connect with subtlety and knowledge. Ideas that capture an insight on the customer and weave it beautifully into a narrative and across channels. I like to present with simple language, plain english , capturing the most essential elements of an idea or strategy in a clear narrative. So I'd like to see work presented in the same way.''

Anna Fogg, Strategy Director at The Mill

''Digital offers so many new and interesting ways for people to engage with brands. I’ll be looking for brave, uncomplicated ideas that are truly digital first. On top of that I’m always hoping to see a nice bit of tech innovation.''

Daniel Noller, Associate Creative Director at AnalogFolk

''I’ll be looking for an idea that takes the Direct category in a new and exciting direction, but that does it in a way that only Direct could. A beautiful print execution that’s forced into Direct doesn’t quite cut it. I’ll also have an eye out for expertly crafted execution that leaves an impact on the consumer long after they initially receive it.''

Adam Thur, Creative Director at Union Advertising

''I certainly look for creativity, innovation and freshness in all the pieces. However, what I most want to see, what I really want to find and understand is how this piece builds and transcends the purpose of the brand, and how it impacts and generates engagement with the person who receives the message.''

Carolina Pinheiro, CEO at Inbrax

''Fundamentally, I will be looking for the following elements in all entrants work:
- Emotional understanding of the user (human)
- Bravery of the creative
- Technology used to deliver this

Richard West, VP, Creative at Jellyfish

''I have always been excited to see the work of the emerging agencies. Because they are the brave ones, the ones who break the rules. I am really expecting to see a few big ideas from them. Will they change society?''

Anindya Banerjee, ECD at FCB Ulka

''I will be looking for work that goes beyond just being great creative and actually moves the client's business.''

Ari Halper, NA Creative Partner at FCB North America

''I am always looking for work that goes beyond what feels expected. When people bring a fresh perspective, it's always so inspiring and my favorite work, is the work that makes me envious that I didn't do it. I look for what feels special and brings a unique point of view and what is helping to tell the story.

"Present your best work, and if there is any back story I would love to know that too. The history of a project and the process always helps us understand how you got to the piece of work we are looking at.

Good luck and I can't wait to be inspired by you all!

Kelly Bayett, Creative Director at Barking Owl

''I'm looking to see work that moves me and the audience. Something that breaks from advertising into popular culture. Work that sets an example, be it for individuals, society or industries. Something to make me view the world differently. Creative work that reflects the kind of talent that keeps us all evolving.''

Marko Vuorensola, ECD & Partner at Folk Finland

''It's not about scale or budget, it's about having a great idea that works and delivers. I'll be looking for inspiring marketing that breaks away from the normal way of doing things and creatives who aren’t afraid to take a chance.

Avoid overloading entries with layers of jargon, keep it simple and to the point and, most of all, be creative.

Michelle Asik, VP Global Brand Marketing & Publicity at ITV Studios

''My thoughts on what I’m looking for in packaging? Fitness for purpose. Top of that list would be distinctive branding to cut through on shelf. If the brand is sold DTC from a curated space like Instagram, I’d still like to see distinctive branding, manifested in an appropriate way for category and sales channel. Private label design has no choice but to glorify product or category, so there I’m looking for surprising new ideas that achieve just that, in spades.''

Steve Osborne, Partner & Managing Director at Osborne Pike

''I love it when campaign delivers with originality and impact. The ability to clearly interpret a client brief and come up with something that might be a bit left of centre is always impressive - especially if the end results clearly demonstrate the impact that was made on behalf of the business. In terms of presentation I think its important for entrants to clearly show how they interpreted the brief, devised and executed the activity and then monitored the success.''

Glenn Matchett, Managing Director at Grammatik

''This is what I will be personally looking for in the submissions entered for PR Agency of the Year:

- An agency with an understanding of the importance on a work/life balance and which provides staff with the flexibility to balance their professional and personal lives
- An agency that places an importance on the investment in their team and allows the agency/team to grow together
- An agency that respects all ways of life and people from all cultural backgrounds
- An agency which is organised and creative, pushing the boundaries on ideas and campaigns to promote client brands

With regards to format, a video is always a good way of allowing judges a quick insight into the agencies company ethos, personality and staff.

Sarah Salord, Director at GEC PR

''I'm judging the best PR agency category, so I'll be looking for agencies that have a real sense of 'why' - what are their guiding principles that go beyond simply making money and delivering client work.''

Will Ockenden, Director/Owner at Prohibition PR

''In the big picture of the advertising industry, much of what we see in regard to noteworthy campaigns is the by-product of massive "integrated marketing" team efforts, supported by considerable budgets. So, if we see an image of a moldy hamburger brought to our attention, we are probably also going to encounter multiple instances where that idea is discussed in great detail.

Meanwhile, Creativepool's Annual represents a platform where many creative ideas and executions that may be relatively obscure are up for review and celebration. For those entering work that does not represent epic campaign efforts with hundreds of contributors, where the case for success has already been made, do not be discouraged. As you polish your work for review by this year's judges, focus on what makes your work exceptional.

For all those entering awards schemes, the prize is only truly fulfilling if the work is legitimately deemed to exceed the merits of all other entries in a given category. As judges, we must be able to quickly assess your entry, understand how it overachieves in regard to its objectives and challenges faced, and deem it to be superior to all competitive entries. "Good" is not the standard for inclusion in the Creativepool Annual, your work must be legitimately great. Aim accordingly!

Roger Darnell, Principal and Chief Communications Officer at The Darnell Works Agency

''I will be looking for sustainability, humanity and usabilty. Hope these few words can help incorporate a vision from my perspective.''

Isak Winther, Creative Director at Pipar/TBWA

''I think for me, I will be ignited by products or projects that are tackling global conversations. Being creative with ideas in this realm, large and small, will capture my attention. My tips would be to communicate your idea well and do it your way. It is really important for us to understand your work but it is also wonderful to get an insight into you or your company as a creative. Good luck!''

Alice Walsh, Director at Alice Made This

''I will be looking out for well thought out and structured films with quality production values not necessarily due to access to huge budgets, but from films that have utilised what they have to an exceptional standard.''

Shaun Gardiner, Editor at Big Chop

''I am a big fan of craftmanship and original ideas. I will be looking fine craftmanship in the works.''

Jasmin Tarasin, TV Director at Photoplay Films

''As for what I'd like to see from the entrants, I feel like the most important to give the jury a bit of content around the projects. Keeping in mind that none of this work is happening in a vacuum, what are the circumstances that led to the work and what was its ultimate impact.''

Charley Lewis, Creative Director at Optimist, Inc.

''From my perspective as a producer, Production should be my focus when judging, but I will also take into account creativity and I will focus on analyzing the way in which directors used all the resources, such as light, production, art, etc. Every single detail of the spots must show excellence, because, in my opinion, this is the main key and what makes the difference between a correct spot and a great spot.''

Gabriel Carratu, Executive Producer at Vagabond Production Services

''From my point of view our industry should move step by step from classic advertising to storytelling. I look for a work that tells an interesting and appealing story, told in a simple, smart and beautiful way. My one tip regarding entering an awards show is to follow the rule that less is more: Keep it simple and let the idea do the work.''

Tzur Golan, Creative Director & Owner at M&C Saatchi Tel Aviv

''Now, more than ever, creativity is becoming inter-disciplinary. So I’ll be looking beyond beautifully crafted great ideas, and into original work that gets inspiration from unusual places, or uses fresh and new ways to bring ideas to life.''

Mojca Sfeir, Art Director at McCann London

''Does the work prompt action? Does the work open up people's minds, and challenge people to elevate their game whatever it may be? We need work that inspires open mindedness, as the world needs to change for the better (and brands should help doing so). Does the work help create a more human future? ie: Is the work something that helps humanity?''

Yosuke Suzuki, Managing Director at R/GA Tokyo

''I'm really excited to see the work submitted this year. As I am tasked with judging the social category, I will be looking for work that is truly purpose-built for the various social channels. Often agencies submit work that has been designed for other mediums into this category and I tend to avoid upvoting it. For instance, if there is a choice between a beautiful, but traditional film or a campaign that utilised the inherent engagement potential of social, there is no question that the latter has the advantage. Social affords creatives a terrific opportunity to connect with consumers and start conversations and so those are the campaigns I will be looking out for.''

Cory Eisentraut, Creative Partner at BBD Perfect Storm

''It is a rare opportunity to see all of the best social media content at one time, in one place... Especially the ephemeral content. I am really excited to judge the 2020 Creativepool Annual.''

Rich Guest, Global Digital Officer at DDB

''I'm looking for campaigns that really move me - make me belly laugh out loud, take my breath away or hold back tears. These kinds of campaigns are how brands break through to connect with consumers today.''

Suzanne Maloney, ECD at Ketchum

''I suppose for me, the best products have a great idea at their heart. This idea addresses particular user wants, desires and needs; and its design execution should be thoughtfully considered so that every detail and every element works harmoniously together to achieve beauty in both form and function. In my experience, really great products are the result of a lot of work, but often look effortless.''

Daniel Flashman, Creative Director at Tangerine

''I’ll be looking for clear ideas that have been well worked through and beautifully executed in appropriate (or brilliantly unexpected) formats. When submitting, think about providing context — it is key and will help frame the design process. It will help us understand how the solution has come about and why it is a fitting solution.''

Mark Hopkins, Creative Director at Bravo

“For me, one of the main factors for an award-winning project is that it’s something which helps people improve their lives. Also, simple things often make a big difference.”

Rodrigo Barona, head of creative technology at J. Walter Thompson Worldwide

“It depends on the campaign and what it sets out to achieve. In terms of 3D it's typically the execution and how they've managed to hit the key campaign goals and the production levels they've achieved. It’s making sure 3D has been used to either entertain or inform and not just because it needed some 3D!”

Emlyn Davies, Executive Creative Director at Bomper Studio

How do you win a creative competition?

In a nutshell, you have to keep it simple. Aim for storytelling, empathy and skill – the judges are looking to be moved, surprised or impressed by the quality of your work. Give it your best, and make sure to pay attention to all the relevant fields of your submission.

Most importantly, presentation matters. Do not underestimate the power of writing and copy. As we all know, the devil is in the details.

Good luck!


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