What Makes a Great Effie Award Submission

It was an honor to judge the Effie Awards this year. As perpetual students of the industry, it’s always inspiring to get that exposure to the greatest home runs of the past year and the cases that attempt to do them justice.

That said, it’s not lost on me how tedious and overwhelming the process of writing an Effie Case Submission is. Not unlike pitching, you’re committing to a process of gathering, revisiting, writing, rewriting, and directing a concept video with your extended team. All above and beyond your day-to-day responsibilities. So kudos to everyone who poured so much of themselves in service of their teams and agencies.

While I can’t disclose details of the work I reviewed, my hope is that the following observations help paint a picture of what the best case submissions looked like to us from across the virtual judging table.

They’re simple.

The best cases read like stories. They refuse to hide behind jargon and overpromises. Through ruthless exclusion, they stand up and out from all the other TL;DR contenders. They are about the cleverness of the campaign, not just the strategist. And by way of their refreshing brevity, they refuse to give you permission to skim.

They’re courageous.

These cases do a lot with a little. They view a scarcity of budget, time, or resources, as a worthy challenge. These cases start by dramatizing the challenge, kicking things off with a tangible tension. Through a series of reveals, they bring you into the metaphorical war room in which they were conceived. They leave you with a feeling that success is born of a whole lot of audacity and a little bit of magic.

Their reels get real.

When it comes to case reels, most tend to minor in information and major in sizzle. But the ones that capture authentic reactions to the work - from tweets to reddit threads - seem to sizzle a little differently. Real-time reactions help take the work out of adland and into people’s homes and lives, proving that great ideas often take on a life of their own.

They’re insight-rich.

The best cases are perceptive throughout. They don’t lazily rely on a silver bullet insight sitting dutifully in the strategy section. Through their generosity of sparks, these cases signal cross-departmental collaboration and intelligent evolution throughout the entire campaign development journey.

They get us rooting.

My favorite part of the experience, by far, was the post-review dialogue with my fellow judges. As I sat alongside an accomplished panel of agency and brand executives volunteering their time to observe, unpack, and critique, it quickly became clear that the mentor in us was rooting for the people behind the words. While there’s no such thing as a perfect submission, the best cases made advocates of us all.

Neeti Newaskar is a Group Strategy Director at Camp + King, recently recognized as AdAge Small Agency of the Year (Silver). She launched her career in Singapore, and has since traveled coast‑to-coast working for independent agencies like Brunner Inc., Venables Bell & Partners, and Evolution Bureau.

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