YouTube Works 2019: A judge’s view on how to win

Neil Godber / February 2019

Thinking of entering YouTube Works? One of our judges and JWT’s Head of Planning, Neil Godber, offers his five steps on how to write an award-winning paper.

Before you start, bear a few broad suggestions in mind that should help avoid stress and drive up the quality of your entry for YouTube Works.

Step #1: Get started

Grasp the nettle and lay out a plan of attack and work backwards from the deadline (8th March). When you will get the one page outline completed? When will you engage the account team to help get the data? Who will finalise logistics? Most important is to get a list of the data you need and ask your team and the client as soon as you can. Don’t be afraid of asking several times for the proof of your work – at this stage you don’t know everything and know your work will benefit everyone so keep asking.  

Step #2: Get your paper proofed

Find an outsider to read and critique your work. In almost anything, the closer to the argument you get the more nuanced it becomes, obscuring the big moves in your work. They will help to simplify and focus your paper.  

Step #3: Learn from previous winners

Finally, learn from those who have already won. Watch some of the winning campaigns and read their papers and absorb their brilliance – it will radiate on your paper.

Step #4: Now, let’s get more specific

Always read the exam question, in everything you do. If a problem well defined is a problem half solved, then you need to understand where the marks will be earned.  

There are three opportunities to score, all equally weighted:

  1. How well is the story told?
  2. How big was the effect, relative to what could be expected within the category and the budget of the campaign?
  3. How much did YouTube add to the effectiveness or efficiency of the campaign?

Step #5: Tell the story

Consider the following...

Find the high concept: The best stories rely on a simple interesting elevator idea: marginal gains, the underdog, revenge, never before, etc. Try to identify one of these, then use it to focus the paper. You are not aiming for a dry academic paper where there is no personality – allow yours to shine and engage your judges.  

Aim to make the reader want to read on: For this you’ll need a mountain to climb.  What’s the jeopardy facing this brand that has sparked your heroic deeds? What would happen if you didn’t get involved? What is getting in the way of your success? Why has this not been solved before? And try to quantify this challenge – your levels of negativity will help to gauge how successful you’ve been.

Find the killer insight and idea: You’ve built up the scene and have the reader thinking ‘rather you than me’, so what is the turning point you have found in the consumer, the company, the culture, the competition, the comms, (maybe even the code) that you have found a foothold to get beyond the problem.  

Demonstrate your thinking: How has this led to great creative work and importantly, how did you formulate the ways in which the creative was to engage audiences to achieve your objectives.  This is not the media plan – it is the way you think the comms are designed to work, and specifically why YouTube.

Reach and frequency: A hard to reach younger audience is not enough. Consider how the mode of viewing on YouTube is ideal for your idea, or the way you can identify and answer needs and deliver inspiration when most in need, or the way people carry YouTube with them on their travels, or their obsession with influencers, or the way YouTube can help you track and help along a customer journey, or how it can be used to improve the customer experience in a world where everything is a service.

Work out the different types of effects from your work: These will include the comms effects, the effects on your brand, the effects on behaviour and finally the effects on the business. To win, you almost always need all of these to be convincing. The best papers go beyond this to discount the other potential factors that might have been responsible for the positive change your brand has experienced. You want to make the judges feel it could only have been your work.

Finally, the value of the best papers partly lies in their ability to influence the work of others. Try to find learning from your work that could be applicable to your contemporaries – what could they steal from your work?

YouTube Works closes for entries on 8 March 2019. Visit the dedicated page to find out more about the criteria and how to enter.

About the Awards