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The Communiqué Awards: what are judges looking for?

Judges in the Communiqué Awards reveal how to bring creativity and strategic thinking together


Communiqué judges Stuart Mayell, Andrew Binns and Fiona Hammond

The annual Communiqué awards (run by Datateam Business Media) is one of the biggest events in the healthcare communications calendar, and the categories are now open for entries for the 2019 event.

Last year saw the launch of a new category – Excellence in Communications through Creative Execution – that aims to recognise entrants that bring real creativity to a strategic campaign.

Three of the judges: Andrew Binns, Director, Havas Lynx and chair of the judges for this category; Fiona Hammond, Managing Director, Hamell and Stuart Mayell, Consultant Creative Director, independent looked at the category in a recent Communiqué podcast and talked about what they’re looking for from this year’s entrants.

After launching the category in 2018, the Communiqué judges feel that a lot of clients and agencies would like further clarification about what this award is really trying to achieve – and indeed how to be creative and strategically excellent at the same time.

Why is it important for the Communiqué Awards to have an Excellence in Communications through Creative Execution category?

“The purpose of this category is to celebrate creativity in healthcare – and to reward those campaigns which show how you can combine that with strong strategic thinking,” said Andrew Binns.

The long-term goal is to support agencies and their clients to produce campaigns that make
a direct contribution to advancing patient care – raising awareness and changing behaviour to improve health and healthcare.

All types of companies are welcome to enter the award: med comms agencies, PR agencies, advertising agencies, small independent agencies and big network agencies, along with charity and pharma companies.

There’s a lot of debate about how creativity should be judged and measured – isn’t it all subjective?

The judges all agree that the essence of great creativity is hard to pin down – but that creative ideas need some objective measures around them.

“Creativity needs rules; you can thrive within a disciplined framework,” said Fiona. That’s why you have a strategy and set objectives because they can drive you on to great creativity.”

This disciplined framework includes a range of metrics, such as segmentation and analysis of audience types, as well as evidence of research insights and how these have been taken into consideration.

Above all, the campaigns need to be built around meeting a real need among patients or healthcare professionals.

Andrew said this is an extension of the Communiqué Awards ethos, which is very much about providing evidence of appropriateness and effectiveness.

“The pride that people have in winning a Communiqué Award is because it means that it’s being judged against a very strict set of strategic thinking criteria. I think this will be helpful for anyone who’s looking to submit an entry this year.”

He said the response to the launch of last year’s category was hugely encouraging, with a total of 31 entries, which he said all responded well to the criteria that had been laid down.

Andrew said this year’s submission guidelines for the category have been updated to make the criteria clearer.

“We’ve tweaked them slightly so that there is greater clarity about scoring for creativity, research insights, strategic objectives and for the key metrics to define the success of a campaign.”

The diversity among the category’s judges also helped to produce sometimes heated but very productive debate.

Among the judges were a senior leader in a behaviour change agency, a brand manager from a major pharma company, an SVP from a strategy agency, and creative directors interested in both the strategic element as well as the aesthetics of a campaign.

Stuart Mayell said how impressed he was that the judges were swayed by the arguments, because the strategy and the information were there to help them make an objective decision.

“The high standard of the entries allowed the judges to compare them fairly and effectively with different qualities by focusing on the behaviour change, outcomes and quality of the thinking.”

The balance will be same again this year. Stuart said that the power to move the target audience shouldn’t be underestimated.

“The companies shortlisted and those that won definitely all had that quality of being able to excite or to move the judges. That’s a quality that’s hard to pin down, but we want to bring that together with genuine patient insights.

“That’s the spark the judges will be looking for,” said Stuart. This special quality was very much present in last year’s winner: Ask for Clear by Havas Lynx for Novartis.

“That was the beauty of the winner – they achieved that wow factor,” said Fiona Hammond. “Everyone agreed it was an outstanding entry that was clearly underpinned by strategic thinking.”

When talking about the impact of the campaigns, and that this was not solely about KPIs, Andrew Binns commented that this is where the subjective side of things came in and the discussions got quite heated.

How can clients and agencies get better at combining strategic goals and creativity? Stuart Mayell said agencies have always got room to improve how they communicate their ideas in a way that encourages client buy-in.

Entering awards that demand evidence and rigour is therefore a great way of building up your agency’s capabilities in presenting objectives, insights and the origins of your creative ideas.

“That means you need to be objective about how they look at creativity, and how to measure and evaluate which creative paths you choose,” said Stuart. “Just entering and working with your agency, working with your client, will help agencies get better at combining strategy and creativity to get great campaigns out there – we need that now more than ever”.

What does an award-winning campaign in this category look like?

Fiona Hammond said a hallmark of the best campaigns is that they are able to interpret patient insights and translate them into something that can bring about a change in perceptions or behaviour.

Make sure your campaign asks those big questions: What needs to change? Which behaviours need to be shifted? How can this be done? Once you have that in place, you have a shot at building a really impactful campaign.”

Stuart Mayell said: “There are lots of ways to approach an entry, but one of the most important aspects is to have a clear sense of how the creativity has sprung directly out of patient insights.

“It’s exciting to receive a new award, but we all know it’s only really meaningful if it can deliver patient benefits. And the only way to achieve this is to understand exactly what patients and their healthcare providers need.”

Fiona Hammond concluded by saying that this category in particular gives agencies and clients a chance to show their skills in the way they bring creativity and strategy together.

“It provides an opportunity to use that really powerful creativity and to show that it’s got an underpinning of really strong strategy as well.

“A lot of other awards focus mostly on the creative idea. The objective here is to show that there are strategic thinking and insights working in synergy with the creativity.”

Practical tips

* Read the submission guide carefully and be as clear as you can that you have met the objectives as stated

* The judges don’t want to have to search for information, so be as clear as possible in every aspect of the submission

* Write the entry in the same way you write campaigns. Be entertaining and engaging – write something the judges will enjoy reading

* The entry deadline for all categories is 14 March 2019, after which the judges will study the submissions and pre-score before coming together to discuss the entries.

Craft and strategic thinking

* Demonstrate craft as well as the elegance of the creativity, but most importantly, show the strategic reasoning behind each entry

* Show that you have set clear, smart objectives for the campaign that are easy to recognise and understand

* Provide evidence of how you measured these objectives

* Provide evidence of how you met these objectives.

12th March 2019

From: Marketing



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