You only have 20 minutes to present your case to the 12 judges who will decide the winners at the 2013 Account Planning Group (APG) Awards. But how can you make the most of this short timeslot? Here are the top tips gleaned from a ‘How to win’ APG event, held at Google’s headquarters in London earlier this week – and attended by many of the UK planners set to compete for this year's prizes.

First to speak was Richard Huntington, chief strategy officer at Saatchi & Saatchi who gave his view on what makes an award winning presentation based on his experiences of being a judge for the 2011 awards. His main points were:

  • The APG Awards are the “planners platform”, it is all about you; your thinking and your work. It's your opportunity to shine so make the most of it!
  • Show how the thinking behind the campaign – rather than the creative idea or execution – made a difference.
  • While much of your 20 minute presentation will involve talking about ideas and how you got to the ‘eureka’ moment, it will also be beneficial to talk results. Discuss sales uplift or any other metrics that demonstrate the campaign was successful.
  • Adopt a "make them green with envy" approach. If you think your peers will be jealous of your work, you most likely have produced something award winning.
  • Lastly, enjoy the process, and the “purity of your work”: it’s yours, embrace it and enjoy telling the judges about it.

Next to speak was Andy Nairn, chair of short listing judges for this year's Awards, and winner of Best Presentation in 2011 for his work with the UK department of health's anti-smoking campaign (subscribers can view the full case study on Warc A new approach to an old problem ).

Nairn’s anti-smoking campaign struck gold by breaking with category norm. Despite the effectiveness of the client's ad campaigns, there were still eight million smokers in England. Nairn’s strategic idea was to move away from the usual analogies that focused on smoking as being detrimental to physical health, the advertising that traditionally conveyed hellish images of blackened lungs etc. Instead, this award winning strategy showed smoking as something that inflicts emotional harm on others – namely, the children of those who smoke. The campaign brought this thinking to life by recording real, unscripted messages by the children, who spoke directly to their parents about their fears and concern for their loved ones’ health. The media strategy was highly personalised: messages from children were strategically placed in locations where their parents would frequent – such as a beer mat in the local pub, or a poster at their local shop.


In short, this campaign identified a familiar and age old problem, but tackled it in a unique and emotive way. The campaign made people take notice, and perhaps think about the impact of smoking in a different way. The magic in the thinking therefore was the shift from smoking as inflicting physical harm (mainly on oneself) to smoking inflicting emotional harm (on others).

The speakers also had some final words of advice for entrants:

  • Be explicit. Know why you are there, explain what makes your story compelling or as Nairn put it, explain “the epicenter of the thinking”.
  • Try to avoid the tedious. Do not go in to too much detail about your pre-campaign research. Get to the point, be bold, be direct and explain why your idea is magic.
  • Rigorously prepare for your presentations. You will have to adhere to the 20 minute time limit, the presentations cannot overrun.
  • Expect 10 minutes for questions at the end. This is your last chance to display your passion for the campaign and your belief in yourself and your idea.

Entries need to be ready by 12 noon on Thursday 21st March 2013. The 20 minute pitches will follow soon after.

Good luck to this year's entrants!