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The Influencers

Creating Content That Wins Awards

INFLUENCER: When it comes to entering a content award, there are some key questions you need to answer, says OgilvyOne's Scott Manson

Creating Content That Wins Awards

Tuxedos! Chicken dinners! Cheesy discos! Yes, it’s awards time once again, with several marketing-related bashes (DMAs, CMAs) coming up on the radar. From wrestling over those pesky submission word counts to launching a lobbying campaign on your boss to ensure your name is on the table plan, awards can make for challenging times.

Spare a thought for the judges too, who’d signed up with the best intentions, but quickly realised it meant mind-numbing reading of up to 50 entries, many of which throw buzzword superlatives around like confetti at a wedding. And then there’s the interminable graphs, charts and analytics to get to grips with. Has anyone, in the history of awards judging, ever actually interrogated these figures? Genuine question.

For my part, I judged this year’s inaugural WARC content strategy awards and, refreshingly, I found that the work rarely started from a position of ‘let’s make something that wins an award’. Rather, almost all the entries focused on delivering results for the client.

The recently announced winners can be found on WARC’s site, with KFC’s Malaysia smart programmatic-driven campaign – featuring a flirtatious chicken burger –taking top honours. You can see their entry film here. Food also featured in another gold-winning entry, with Knorr’s Love At First Taste campaign matching up single people based on their favourite flavours profile. Unsurprisingly, Lockheed Martin’s Field Trip to Mars also won gold – just one of many trophies in the cabinet for this fabulous (and fabulously expensive) piece of work.

So what did I learn? Here’s what every content strategist who’s thinking of entering an award needs to know.


Ask yourself, is this actually content?

“Guys, this isn’t content.” Granted, I didn’t say this too often during the judging, but still enough to be worrying. Content should be relevant, valuable and useful – but several entries felt like traditional marketing that had been given a cursory content wrap.


What’s the ROI?

When awards are primarily about the effectiveness of a piece of content, you need to show it. The best entrants could show not just page views and dwell time, but also social sentiment scores – through comments, for example – and other lead generation metrics. Content plays a nurturing role, wooing and educating a consumer prior to purchase, so it’s crucial to show exactly how that assistance has worked.


Does the content meet intent?

Here’s what the brand wants to say. Here are the audience needs. The challenge is to find the sweet spot between the two. Creating lively content that’s built to meet audience intent and matches their informational needs will see the strongest engagement. The content that just pushed brand messaging didn’t make the cut.


How strong is your distribution strategy?

Gold-winning entrants could show their workings, demonstrating smart data-driven distribution models that put the right content in front of the right person at the right time. Those that used influencers and other forms of content partnerships also scored well.


What’s new?

While many fall prey to the SNT (shiny new toy) syndrome, the best content marketers know when they should use new formats – such as 360 degree video – and, crucially, when they shouldn’t. From cursor-tracking images to morphing GIFs to scribe videos to storify-style articles, there were plenty of smart content activations at the WARC awards.

Keep this advice in mind and your brand could be on the shortlist next year. To those writing the entries though, on behalf of us judges, I’d ask you to please go easy on those business buzzwords.



Scott Manson is Director of Content at OgilvyOne UK