Event Review: Star Awards Showcase 2021

By Jaimie Anderson, Whyte & Mackay

Given the awards were just dished out in October, it is hard to believe we’re at submission time already - ‘hard to believe’ probably sums up a lot at the moment. 

So, on a snowy Thursday afternoon, we gathered round our screens ready to listen to an array of gold award winners dish out their top tips on how to get that special nod from the Marketing Society Scotland. And here are a few of my key takeout’s from the session.

Emotional storytelling

Rob Catterson from Brand Scotland talked about the importance of the story and the people involved in telling that story.

Treat your award entry like your approach to your campaign...go big, go bold. Inject some drama. Have an interesting cast. Make your entry a rallying call to get the judges sit up and pay attention.

Checklist for success

Pete Martin from Always Be Content noted that to truly have a shot at winning, you need to make sure your entry ticks all the boxes.

  • The big challenge
  • Interesting context
  • What matters most to customers
  • Simple insight
  • Great creative
  • Well presented
  • Objective results
  • Easy to read – often the trickiest part, think of that judge reading 15 papers and yours is the last!

And interestingly, Pete also mentioned that he’s won gold for something that was a bronze thanks to creativity, presentation, and a clear story, but it wasn’t necessarily the best. Bright lights and sparkle are important, but don’t let them distract from what’s really important – the business results.

Less is always more

Carol Prest from DC Thomson emphasised the point that the person writing the paper often shouldn’t be the one who was 100% involved in the project. Being objective is key. And less really is more.

Here's her 4 key tactics to getting towards an award wining entry;

  1. Points mean prizes – check the weighting of the category scoring and match it
  2. Assemble your team – from client to agency, get the right people in place
  3. Planning is key – don’t leave it to the last minute (we’ve all been there!)
  4. Be clear – a paper that is foggy/woolly/difficult to read won’t win. Get someone completely unconnected to read it

“You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.” Albert Einstein.

Results! Be brand specific. Be commercial

Hugh Burkitt, former Chief Executive of The Marketing Society and Star Awards Judging Chair, gave his own twist on The Scottish Government FACTS acronym.

  • F is for fresh ideas
    • Are you breaking the mould?
  • A is for answer the brief
    • Agency + client collaborations tend to be most effective
  • C is for criteria
    • Does your entry match the % scores attributed to each section?
  • T is for tell us the numbers
    • Stop with just the social media impressions. Clearly outline the brand/business KPIs and be commercial
  • S is for START NOW!

And it was Hugh’s discussion around results that really stood out. Too often judges/peers focus on the creative or how the paper looked. Let’s not forget why the campaign was created in the first place – did it actually solve that business challenge?


A great session highlighting how to create that award-winning submission. Now it’s time to get it down on paper and celebrate all the good stuff from the last 12 months.

Review by Jaimie Anderson (@jaimie_s), European Marketing Planner at Whyte & Mackay

Session chaired by Petra Cameron (@PetC), Head of Advertising & Content, RBS