Judging Process

The simple answer is that the work is good, the results are there and the entry submission does a good job of conveying that message to the judges.

The simple answer is that the work is good, the results are there and the entry submission does a good job of conveying that message to the judges.

More than 120 judges, each with a minimum of five years’ experience, volunteer to evaluate the RSVP entries – and it’s a tough job, to say the least. Each entry is reviewed by a number of preliminary judges, each of whom rates the work against a specific set of criteria, and assigns it a score. The judges work independently and are asked to evaluate each entry on its own merits and not compare them to one another.

The judges look for a strong plan that includes a well-articulated strategy and clearly defined objectives. They review how the campaign was executed and how well it did. They then evaluate the results against the stated objectives. Indicators of success include response rates, conversion rates and return on investment. (Rather than actual figures, percentages are sometimes used when reporting this information, due to its proprietary nature.) Finally, the judges consider the overall package, including elements such as creative, level of integration, alignment with the brand, use of database information and positioning within the customer lifecycle.

Entries that are well written and which clearly provide the information requested in the Call For Entries do better than entries that fail to answer all the questions. Judges have a significant number of entries to evaluate, so it’s important that they be able to easily find the information they need in order to complete their score cards.

Then it’s all down to the numbers. Scores from all the judges are averaged to determine the preliminary score for each entry. When these scores have been tabulated, the highest-scoring entries move on to the second round of judging, where a group of senior judges evaluates them against the same criteria used during the preliminary judging phase. The senior judges do not know the results of the preliminary scoring. The scores from each senior judge are averaged to arrive at the senior score for each entry. The preliminary and senior scores are then combined to reach the final score for the entry.

To win a Gold, an entry must attain a minimum score of 80%. Silver requires at least 75% and an Award of Merit must score at least 70%. Which explains why there is not always a Gold, Silver, and Merit in each category.

With the RSVPs, winning is all by the numbers.

Lorraine McLachlan is vice-president, conventions and special events at the Canadian Marketing Association.

To participate as a judge in next year’s RSVPs please visit the CMA Web site at www.the-cma.org/rsvp.html.