More than Just a Pretty Face: Judging the Effies

The Effie Awards honor the most effective marketing campaigns in the United States and Canada. Differing from other award shows, they specialize in improving marketing effectiveness.

When our vice president of accounts and strategy, Hillary Miller, was selected to judge the Effie Awards, she was thrilled. “I love that you get the whole creative brief, you get all of the context,” said Miller. “Since I create briefs, I loved seeing what other people are doing and thinking. I was both inspired and intimidated.”

Judges are given guidelines to review ahead of time so they are clear on the parameters. Although it can be difficult to ignore personal preferences, Hillary is adamant that the goal of the Effie Awards is to identify effective marketing, and she strove to view each case study through that lens.

“It’s harder than I thought to be objective,” Miller added. “There was definitely work that I personally gravitated towards, but the spirit of the Effies is to ask, ‘Is this an effective ad?’ not ‘Do I like this ad?’ I would ask myself ‘Who told the best story from end to end?’ For some case studies, the work was great, and each section was interesting, but it felt like I was reading chapters from different books.”

After the event, Hillary defined what an effective case study looks like by narrowing it down to three key elements:

  1. It grabs your attention.
  2. It’s distinctive within its category.
  3. There is a clear, singular takeaway.

A perfect example of that is the highly regarded “Black is Beautiful” campaign from Proctor & Gamble. The entry was for their moving long-form spot called “The Talk”. “I’d seen the video before and read the industry articles about it, but the case study itself was so eloquent in identifying the situation, and articulating the insights, that it deserved one of the highest scores of the day,” said Miller. “Watch for yourself and see if you feel it meets all three criteria.”