Next week sees the final round judging of the 2023 Effie Ireland Awards programme. This round is the awarding round, for which we have a line-up of highly regarded jury members. See the list of judges announced by Adworld here.

Charley Stoney, CEO, IAPI is “extremely proud” to have brought this global awards programme to Ireland as it offers a significantly different approach to other marketing awards. “The decision by IAPI to move to an annual programme was a game changer as it enables our Gold winners to enter the European and Global Best of Best Effies every year. It also means that each year at least 25 Irish marketers and agency professionals take part in the rigorous judging process which has been described by some as a “bootcamp” on marketing effectiveness. Some of those judges, including our Jury Chair, Damian Devaney, Principal & Snr Partner, Dsquared & TBV Global, are a regular jury member for International Effies which brings back invaluable knowledge of the very best of marketing effectiveness from around the world.

Neal Davies, CEO, BBDO; IAPI Board member and previously CEO of Effie Worldwide, (the organisation responsible for over 50 marketing effectiveness programmes like ours around the globe), elaborates here on the process and provides us with some great insights on how to get into the right mindset for judging.”

The Spirit of Effies: 10 rules for judging by Neal Davies, CEO, BBDO.

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 Hilton Hotel brand.

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.

10 rules that constitute The Spirit of Effie
10 rules that constitute 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 (below) are an important part of our ongoing roles as marketers:

1. Effie is a forum for learning

2. There is no definition of effectivenes

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:
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, and the final rule is to have fun.Effie judging is a unique experience. Enjoy it.

Effie Awards Ireland is kindly supported by An Post Commerce, DMG Media, ESB & RTE Media Sales.