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By Darren Kerr, Executive Producer and Director at 10th Street 

The period between February and April is considered Awards Season in South Africa’s vibrant marketing and communication sector. Apart from the Loerie Awards, which take place later in the year, the first quarter of the year is a busy one for agencies who want to put their best foot forward. The call for entries for the Apex Awards, which emphasises effectiveness in communications, is currently underway, and PRISA is finalising its judging process for its PRISM Awards, which recognises the best public relations campaigns. At the same time, the Creative Circle will announce its Ad of the Year, selected from monthly winners in the preceding year. Also, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) will be hosting its Bookmark Awards for excellence in digital marketing around this time.

While a few shows, such as the Creative Circle’s Ad of the Month and Ad of the Year Awards, are based purely on advertising content and nothing else, most award shows rely heavily on well-crafted entry motivation documents, which increasingly include a video.

Entering awards can become a costly exercise, and some agencies are willing to even bend the rules to ensure that they win coveted industry prizes. Apart from a handful of free award shows, most demand steep entry fees, which can run into the tens of thousands depending on the number of entries, and larger agencies have a budget for entry fees and the costs associated with compiling entries.

In the absence of huge piles of cash, agencies can employ the following useful approaches to improving their chances of awards glory in an affordable way:

  1. Focus on Value

Brands and agencies often enter multiple categories and awards all using video to tell the story, so it’s important to keep the video production costs low, but the quality of the output high. Remember, videos only aid in the selection process and are not a guarantee of a win – they are a growing cost centre and a grudge spend in the entry process. Agencies can find a sweet spot where costs are kept low while the quality shines through and captures the attention of the selection panel. The key is to keep the focus on the core values and identity of the campaign and not get tempted by expensive and time-consuming production elements.

  1. Cut Once

Managing time and expenditure can be tricky as these videos often require quick turnaround. It’s therefore critical to get things as right as possible on the first iteration of the video. Spending some time in a pre-production process to develop a good script and production plan ensures more precision and clear direction during post-production. This saves time and man hours – no business wants to spend resources on a job that isn’t a high revenue earner.

  1. Explain the Why

Video entries are often just two minutes long, so there isn’t enough time for laboured explanations. Explain the “why” effectively and most of the job is done. The video needs to convey the problem and solution quickly, concisely and effectively. It needs to explain the problem, show the solution and reveal the results.

  1. Keep it simple

Award entry videos are often not filmed or produced at all, but rather packaged from final campaign elements and existing material. So, it’s important to make sure there isn’t too much going on – keep it simple, impactful and relatable. Don’t speak in jargon. The costs and man hour output need to equate.

A campaign might very well have been successful for a brand, but if the entry isn’t packaged well, it could mean the difference between top honours and the cutting room floor come judging time. As these aren’t feature films, producers need to spend as little time in production as possible to get the story across.

While there is no perfect recipe to the ultimate awards video entry, following these elements production agency 10th Street helps its clients control costs, demonstrate impact and, hopefully, entertain and win over the judges.