Winning digital campaigns have three things in common – great content, an element of simplicity, and a strong interactive digital component, writes Eric Leong.

Having served on the judging panel for the ‘digital’ category at award shows recently, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many of APAC’s finest digital campaigns.

The experience gives one a unique view of not only where the industry appears to be heading (as the big winning campaigns of today become the ideas demanded by clients tomorrow) but also what appears to be working (especially in the case of marketing effectiveness awards).

Here are three key themes I’ve recently observed from the judging room floor:

1. Content has Always Been King

It’s time we put the phrase “content is king” to rest.

It should be banned from all marketing seminars, client presentations and award entries. Proclaiming that ‘content is king’ is similar to saying that ‘the key to producing a great song is to make sure that it sounds good’. Enough already.

Many of the digital campaigns that consistently stand out follow this timeless principle, such as 3D on the Rocks for Suntory Whisky and Bring Down the King for Sky Television (Game of Thrones).

3D on the Rocks for Suntory Whisky (Japan)

Bring Down the King for Sky Television - Game of Thrones (New Zealand)

What these great campaigns have in common is that they are based around great content that people find interesting. Nothing more, but nothing less.

It’s no use telling the judges how many online platforms were used or how ‘360’ degree the media strategy was – if the content sucks, the campaign sucks.

2. Digital ≠ Complicated

This leads me to my next point. Simplicity has always been a guiding principle of good advertising. However when it (Read more...) to digital, many seem to have forgotten this.

Blinded by the multitude of media and engagement options at their disposal, many campaign entries proudly show off the sheer number of online platforms used or the complex mechanics of the campaign.

This same ‘quantity over quality’ approach is also often seen in the ‘results’ section – where entries roll out total impressions numbers that are insanely high, yet ultimately empty.

Digital ideas need not be inherently complicated. Campaigns such as The Message Barter by The Akanksha Foundation and Share for Dogs by Pedigree are both award winning campaigns that contain an incredibly simple idea based on a good understanding of people’s behaviour in today’s digital world.

The Message Barter by The Akanksha Foundation (India)

Share for Dogs by Pedigree (New Zealand)

3. Digital Ideas Versus Ideas in a Digital World

A common dilemma arises during judging sessions for the 'digital' category when assessing the ‘digital-ness’ of individual campaigns. Some confusion can often occur towards campaigns which do not truly harness the unique interactive element of digital, yet nevertheless feature digital as a key ‘channel’.

For illustration purposes, take the recent example of Aussie Builders by Snickers – a hilarious video on YouTube which cleverly captures the brand’s proposition. At over a minute long, it’s essentially a long TV commercial worthy of sharing with your friends – but is it worthy of winning an award as ‘Best Digital Campaign’?

Another recent award winner was OPSM’s Penny the Pirate, a fantastic idea of a children's book that screens a child's sight without them knowing. An award winning idea for sure, but is it qualified to win an award in the ‘digital’ category? (Technically speaking, the children’s book was created in both hard copy book and tablet version.)  

The somewhat philosophical question that such campaigns pose to the judging panel is as follows: If there’s a great campaign that happens to involve a digital channel, should it be allowed to win an award for the ‘digital’ category? In my opinion, it shouldn’t.

What makes a great digital campaign should be those ideas that simply couldn’t have been done 10 years ago. The ones that are intrinsically digital such as The Red Cross Connection for Singapore Red Cross and Like Loan for ASB Bank.

Like Loan for ASB Bank (New Zealand)

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