I’ve just spent the day judging the annual B2B Awards for B2B Marketing magazine, which I have to say was a privilege and very insightful. It was very intensive, taking in around 13 categories and a shortlist for each of 4-6 finalists. Bearing in mind that this was only half the categories and was the second stage of screening, it is clear that a significant amount of time has gone into this – although I guess this pales into insignificance when compared to the time the entrants would have put into their submissions.
Having witnessed all this first hand, plus all of the expenditure that has obviously been made, it was extremely insightful to have a judge’s perspective on this – and this being (with all due respect) a relatively niche awards ceremony, I can now understand a little better the sheer scale of investment that must go into some of the big ones. I’m normally on the other side of the fence, and in fairness as a very poor sportsman I’m normally a disgruntled loser uttering insinuations of skulduggery or unprofessionalism.
Having seen the effort that goes into judging I feel a great deal more empathy now, but I also got some interesting insights into what makes a successful entry or not. Considering many of the entries were produced by agencies I was disappointed by the level of presentation of many of them (cobblers’ shoes springs to mind). The well written, clearly signposted entries that address the qualifying criteria practically selected themselves.
Where entries did not clearly answer these criteria, my tendency to subjectivity increased hugely, and being like a magpie I tended to gravitate towards more ‘shiny’, nice looking work rather than category adherence.
I was saddened though by the quality of the submissions in general, most particularly from a creative perspective. It’s a shame that some of the bigger players didn’t get involved and push the bar up a few notches – and as a company that entered only one category we share that criticism. I guess to an extent that the quality and quantity of entries has been driven to by the economic climate, in so far as there is less work in general being commissioned, the work is by default less brave, and agencies are saving budgets on “nice to do” award submissions.
Note to self: must try harder next year.
And for the record I didn’t get to judge our own entry for B2B Agency of the Year!
Managing Director, European B2B practice leader