Signs of Summer: Judging What Is Real in Marketing

ECHOs are the global contest where data, insights and intelligence create disruption and surpass business objectives. I want to judge a contest where recognition puts a smile on both the faces of the CMO and the CFO. I want to uncover the validation that clients — and prospective clients — look for in their agency partners.

Last week, I filled out my judging application for this year’s International ECHO Awards. I hope I get picked. (Sorry, the deadline for applying to be an ECHO Award judge was May 5. But, hey, while the judging application deadline has passed, there’s still up to a month to enter that brilliant campaign of yours.)

I have to confess … I’ve never been to Cannes for the ad festival, but I’ve always felt like the focus of winning a Cannes Lion is blow-my-mind creative – and results, well – they’re second fiddle. In recent years, it’s left me wondering if the most buzzed-about entries – how many were ever real campaigns at all? So Cannes is wonderful for showing off creative chops on a glamorous, global stage — call it, right-brain creativity unleashed! Come someday, I’ll splurge and go.

But what if there was a peer-judged contest of “wow” factor creative, but also where strategy and results in the field are equally “wow.” Oh, that’s the Data & Marketing Association’s International ECHO Awards. Cannes Lion entries — with substance — should ECHO apply! Fake ads and concepts shouldn’t.

ECHOs are the global contest where data, insights and intelligence create disruption and surpass business objectives. I want to judge a contest where recognition puts a smile on both the faces of the Chief Marketing Officer and the Chief Financial Officer. I want to uncover the validation that clients – and prospective clients – look for in their agency partners.

How to impress me:

  • A campaign that can beat the control – and establish a new one.
  • To apply new MarTech, platforms and channels in ways that measure – and delight the customer.
  • Where élan lives in breakthrough creative – and data-inspired strategy, too. Intelligence, unleashed.
  • And where marketers, who answer to return on investment … this is where they get to show off their chops.

Yes, that’s a tall order for an ECHO-winning entry … but it’s the reward I’ve enjoyed just being a judge. I get to witness in one competition courageous clients and campaigns from around the world — and here at home — that seek to redefine today’s marketing and set tomorrow’s benchmarks with actual work. There’s some duds in the mix. But those that earned their ECHO trophy surely teach the rest of us.

That’s why I enjoy the judging experience best. It’s a direct window on marketing undergoing transformation. One more thing to love about summer, when the ECHOs are judged each year. Mark your calendar, the ECHOs will be presented on October 8 in New Orleans, during DMA’s &Then17 experience. I’m hopeful Target Marketing readers can show me then how they’re transforming marketing, too.

Author: Chet Dalzell

Marketing Sustainably: A blog posting questions, opportunities, concerns and observations on sustainability in marketing. Chet Dalzell has 25 years of public relations management and expertise in service to leading brands in consumer, donor, patient and business-to-business markets, and in the field of integrated marketing. He serves on the ANA International ECHO Awards Board of Governors, as an adviser to the Direct Marketing Club of New York, and is senior director, communications and industry relations, with the Digital Advertising Alliance. Chet loves UConn Basketball (men's and women's) and Nebraska Football (that's just men, at this point), too! 

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