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Effie Judging = Inspiring, Energizing and Definitely Digital

By Christopher Miller, chief digital officer, Chicago

Recently, I participated as a final round judge for the North American Effies. True, not the final final round, as that’s a super-secret small group of people, like the award show “illuminati.”(Just kidding.) But after a few years of participating at the local level, in the first round of judging, I was thrilled to be moved from the kids table to the adult table, so to speak.
To begin with, the experience was quite different because in the first round all judging is done individually. The Effies people create a very organized set up for each judge to log in and view the work, score and comment. It’s all done individually. At this final (remember not the final final) level, judges are scoring individually but then the judging-group-moderator opens up a dialog among the group, allowing for comments about the cases that have just been read, watched and scored.
That’s where it gets really interesting.
First, I was struck by the often conflicting discussion, which was fantastic. The jurists probed and questioned; for every “great strategy”  or “soft results” there was a counterpoint, but civility was evident and every discussion turned into a great dialog about the case and the strategy/work/results. Over the course of the day, there were three prevalent, common areas that I want to share here: Great story telling: in the work, the written cases and videosClean slate thinkingDigital is part of everything now :-)
First and foremost was storytelling. This meant not just the work itself but the written case and the video. Can’t emphasize enough how great work can be undersold by a poorly written case or badly produced case video. And yes,  sizzle does help sell (a bit). Work that wasn’t as strong could hide some of its flaws with a well written case and supporting materials. But most important was the storytelling within the work. You’ll see what I mean as the finalists and winners are announced. The best work had a clearly tangible storyline throughout all of it — and across each media.
Which brings me to my next point: Clean slate thinking. Work that I felt was great — and had the strategy and results to prove it — came from a fresh place. You could tell that it didn’t start with a retread of a brief or strategy, but instead came out of fresh thinking.
Lastly, and maybe unsurprisingly for you but refreshing for me, was that digital work was part of every case study. And these weren’t “digital” categories that I was judging. Rather, the best work used the digital space to its fullest and connected with the consumer in social, mobile and tablet. Of course, again the results showed the benefit of this.  How could it not when you’re not just ticking the boxes but creating a compelling story from a fresh place and utilizing the media/technology that consumers live in!
That’s why I’m excited to see who the final winners are, and at the same time feel extraordinarily reenergized for our industry and the great work and great client results we can drive.
Review the list of Finalists to learn who is in contention for a 2013 Effie Award.Download the 2013 Effie Finalists - Preliminary Listing.