How To Win ADDY's: Tips from an ADDY Insider

Having been on the ADDY committee for the last 4 years — not to mention winning a few — I’ve seen and heard a lot regarding the work that is entered. The judges might change each year and each with their own personal preferences, but one thing is always certain: every year they are thoroughly impressed by the work submitted by Orlando students. This year, the bar gets raised even higher, because we are bringing LOCAL professionals to judge the student work. Yep… that means that a judge might see your work, think it’s amazing, and want to hire your for it. So, with more at stake then ever before (and a $40 entry fee that you’re probably questioning), here’s some honest advice to help you make the right decisions regarding the ADDY’s.

Tip 1: Only turn in your BEST work
Your project needs to WOW the judges. Mediocre projects don’t win ADDYs — that’s the bottom line, folks. If you didn’t get an “A” on it, you probably shouldn’t even consider submitting it. Refer back to your gradesheet. Did you lose points for technical requirements? For creative requirements? Fix them. Unless you’ve fully completed Portfolio Review, your projects are most likely not competition ready, so make any necessary changes before submitting the entry.

Tip 2: Consult your instructors
Contact your instructor from that particular class and ask if they think you should submit a project. They’ll either give you more feedback to improve it or tell you not to waste your money. Remember: A lot of your instructors have won ADDYs, or other competitions, themselves, so they know a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t.

Tip 3: Enter both single AND campaigns
This, friends, is how you win ADDYs. If you have a project with multiple pieces (like an campaign of 3 ads, for example), consider entering the whole thing as a campaign AND submitting each piece individually as well. So a 3 piece project ends up being 4 entries total (one campaign and 3 singles). The reason to do this is sometimes the project works best as a campaign or sometimes just certain pieces are ADDY-worthy. Yes, it means spending more money, but that’s just part of the gamble. Ask Ellison if it was worth it.

Tip 4: Follow directions
Nothing disqualifies an entry faster than a student who cannot follow directions. Thoroughly read through the Entry Packet materials (which you can pick up in the lab) and the ADDY Rules pdf that is available on the entry site. Look at the StudentADDYs 2011 Presentation, watch the video (posted on this blog here) and go through the addy-checklist to make sure you’ve covered all your bases. Make sure you include a CD with high quality images of your project — if you don’t, then you can’t get upset if we don’t include an image of your award winning project at Gallery Night, in the winners book, or online. When in doubt, ask questions.

While those are all important tips to keep in mind overall, there are also a few things you should know about some of the categories.The categories that usually do best at the ADDYs are Consumer/Trade Publication (Ads), Packaging, Brochures, and Posters… though we do occasionally see an ADDY for Direct Marketing, Out-of-Home, and Non-traditional. Here are some thoughts on these popular categories what will hopefully help determine if your project is what the judges are looking for:

Ads (Consumer/Trade Publications… Single and Campaign)
Clever, witty taglines… humor… thought-provoking, even borderline offensive concepts… this is what they are looking for. You need to make the judges think “Damn…” It needs to be an interesting and innovative idea, accompanied by awesome artwork. Ads that are just “pretty” don’t have any place here. It needs to be the whole package… great concept, great artwork, great execution.

The worst thing that you can do in this category is submit work that is down-right messy. It needs to look impeccable. No glue spots, curling corners, crooked edges, etc. And again, the concept and end product needs to be clever, interesting, and have a great design. Ideally, you want them to look at your project and think “Hey, is this in the right competition? It looks professional…” Oh, and submit the actual, 3-dimensional project. Do you really think you are going to win an ADDY with a photo alone?

Oh, those judges just looooove a good brochure. And what’s not to love? We’re talking about a culmination of great design, interesting die cuts, finishing techniques, and unique binding. They just eat that up at the ADDY’s. A simple stroll through our Student ADDY Flickr Galleries will show you what an award winning brochure looks like. And again… assembly needs to be perfect.

Don’t confuse this with ads. They’re judged differently. Posters need to be visually stunning. They are either strong illustratively, typographically, or BOTH! And make sure you print it big… no smaller than 11×17. A small poster won’t have a big impact. Just don’t go overboard… it doesn’t need to be humongous. And hey, sometimes an ad will do better in this category… or vice versa. That’s just a risk you’ll have to take.

Lastly, here’s some advice regarding some of the more difficult categories. It’s not that you can’t win an ADDY in these categories, it’s simply that it’s a bit more challenging. So really take this advice to heart, especially if you are concerned about sending $40 per entry.

This is not an easy category to win an ADDY in (look through our ADDY Flickr sets… how many corporate ID entries do you see?) A nice design alone won’t cut it. It’s gotta have that “WOW” factor: die cuts, special folds, interesting paper, interactivity… something! And you really should enter the whole set (letterhead, business card, envelope). Occasionally a single business card or letterhead/envelope will win on it’s own, but it’s gotta be mind-blowingly awesome… something really unique and innovative.

Interactive Media
It’s not impossible, but it is the most difficult of all the categories to enter (particularly websites). It’s simply due to the high standards of web. The website needs to offer a fantastic user experience, be free of bugs, and have great interactivity… and a few animations wouldn’t hurt either.

Elements of Advertising: Logos, Illustration, Animation
This is a tricky category, simply because it is hyper-focused on the design of that individual element. I mean, it’s gotta be STELLAR, especially illustrations. Logos… well, logos are really hard just because of how subjective they are. They gotta be cutting edge, on top of trends, and clever. Like the Sherwin Williams logo that Katrina Mustakas did? Genius in it’s simplicity. The original logo was identifiable (and definitely, ugly) and Katrina’s new solution was like a breath of fresh air. It’s a head turner, and that’s what they’re looking for.

So there ya have it folks… take it or leave it. These are just tips based on my observations and feedback that I have gotten. They aren’t rules that are totally set in stone — there’s definitely some gray area in there. But the bottom line here is that you should at least enter SOMETHING, cause you never know when you just might find yourself with some ADDY gold.

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  • Posted: January 12, 2012 08:43

    Christine Cerniglia

    Hey guys, I know we are currently out of entry packets on campus. I am working diligently to get some more. We may not have them until after 5 today. I'll keep you posted. Also, there has been some concern about where to drop off entries (apparently there is no Building B). We are also looking into this... so please stay tuned for more info!
  • Posted: January 12, 2012 20:25

    Christine Cerniglia

    Hey gang, so it's not Building B, it's building 3B right next to the New Full Sail Live (behind Ale House parking lot). There will have event signs out front to help direct traffic.