The Clio Awards is among the biggest, most prestigious competitions in the advertising world. Anyone entering the competition wants to be sure to have the best chance of success, especially in a field where the biggest companies, heaviest hitters and smartest creatives are bringing their A game.
So what do you need to know to enter the Clio Awards and get your best shot at taking home a statue? We went straight to the source and asked the Clio Awards’ Associate Director of Entries and Judging Steve Mergaman for the inside track of easy-to-avoid pitfalls and all the things they wish every entrant knew.
Brave Dog: What makes a standout, award-worthy entry? Are there certain elements that judges look for as a base level, things that all good entries must have?
Clio: Clio’s judging criteria are creativity and originality, and our jurors are constantly reminded to focus on those criteria when judging the work. Each medium has its own constraints, but we encourage the jurors to keep the Clio mission in mind while judging: “Clio honors creativity in its many forms. We surface work from around the world to identify creativity that not only moves consumers and makes icons of brands, but shapes a global industry.” When awarding the work, we encourage the jurors to ask themselves:
- Is this work creative? Original? Inspiring?
- Is this work brave? Bold? Innovative?
- Am I jealous of this work? Do I wish I had done it?
- What does it say about our industry? What message does it send?
BD: Are there any categories that are underutilized by entrants, maybe some that more people could take advantage of but gets overlooked?
Clio: Yes, the technique mediums: Audio Technique, Digital/Mobile Technique, Film Technique and Print Technique. Entrants submit their Digital/Mobile websites to be judged for the overall creativity and originality of the idea, for instance — but why not have it judged on the craft as well?
BD: What do you wish entrants knew ahead of time, or what piece of information always gets overlooked?
Clio: Early submissions! Early submissions don’t just benefit entrants financially with our early bird specials, but our team goes through every entry before it ever reaches the jurors. We verify that all of the information is correct and the media plays properly, and give feedback to entrants. Sometimes there are minor tweaks or adjustments we notice that could help improve an entry. The more time our team has to review the entry, the more it benefits the entrant.
BD: What’s the most common entry error you see? What would save you a ton of time if everyone did it?
Clio: As we mentioned, our team reviews all entries before they pass to the judging process. Some of the common errors we see when reviewing submissions include entries being miscategorized, campaigns submitted as single entries, URLs provided linking to videos instead of entrants uploading the video directly to the entry, and the inclusion of agency names on submissions. Some helpful tips to avoid these common mistakes:
- Utilize our entry kit to closely review the medium and category definitions. Check to see if any other categories better suit your entry.
- Familiarize yourself with the difference between a campaign and a single entry. A campaign is a collection of single entries that are judged together as one.
- Be sure to upload all relevant media directly to your submission via our online entry system. When reviewing the entries, jurors are presented with this media first.
- Make sure your agency name is removed from all elements of the submission. As per Clio policy, all submissions remain anonymous during the judging process. This means no agency mention in or on any of the media (video, image or PDFs) or in the synopsis.
BD: In that same direction, are there common, easily avoidable mistakes that often cost entrants wins?
Clio: It’s really about thinking of your entry as a package you are presenting the jurors. Some questions we would ask entrants as they’re submitting:
- Are you providing a synopsis that explains why your entry is creative and original and why it fits in this particular medium and category? Do you need to provide context or background to convey the creativity and originality?
- Is your synopsis informative and succinct so that the jurors can digest the information easily?
- Have you provided all of the visuals available to you that would help the jurors understand your entry clearly? To this end, we suggest taking advantage of uploading as much media as eligible for your entry — the more visuals you can provide, the easier it is for jurors to understand your submission.
- Finally, if you are submitting into a medium that allows a physical items, take the time to send one. Physical items are eligible in the following mediums: Brand Design, Direct, Events/Experiential, Print, Print Technique, and Product Design. The physical items are particularly important for the judging of these mediums.
BD: Any other key useful tips you think entrants should know before they submit?
Clio: We recommend case study videos should have a run time of 2-3 minutes. Jurors are reviewing numerous entries so providing them with clear and concise information is beneficial for the evaluation of your submission.
Clio juries are composed of individuals from around the world. Providing cultural context allows jurors a deeper understanding of why your piece is impactful.
In addition to our suggestions above, it’s important for entrants to consider that your submission could be eligible for any of our six Clio programs; Clio Awards, Clio Entertainment, Clio Fashion & Beauty, Clio Health, Clio Music and Clio Sports.
The Clio Awards deadline is May 26.
Entering a competition as huge as the Clio Awards can be a daunting task. If you need help, just remember that the award experts at Brave Dog are always standing by. Call us!