Tony Miller, DMA Awards Committee Chair and VP Growth & Performance Marketing at WW, discusses why customer-centric campaigns will attract the judges’ attention most this year.

Brexit, COVID-19, and an ongoing cost-of-living crisis have contributed to some of the most significant changes to consumer and business behaviour observed in over a decade.

These unprecedented times are changing how people work, play, and even relax. Consumers, who are experiencing rising emotional and financial strains, are changing their behaviours, priorities, and loyalty habits accordingly.

So, what does this mean for marketers’ campaigns?

Awards to those best serving the customer

The current cost-of-living crisis is challenging consumers in ways that are changing their spending habits. Across all categories tested in the DMA’s latest report in the Customer Engagement series, most consumers have made changes or are planning to make changes to their spending habits.

In addition, feelings of disloyalty have increased among consumers over the past two years – 41% of consumers claim that they feel less loyal to brands and companies than they did a year ago, in comparison to 34% stating this in 2020.

But change doesn’t have to be a bad thing if brands are responsive and actively seeking opportunities for how they can best serve their customers.

As modern marketers, we must identify, empathise and engage with our customers’ needs like never before. We must proactively seek innovative solutions to challenges customers are experiencing.

These values will be reflected in this year’s DMA Awards’ winners.

Therefore, marketers must communicate their campaigns in a way where the judges can see work that inspires and drives meaningful change. Marketers must showcase how their brand is evolving with consumers’ increasingly complex challenges and demands.

The judges seek creativity, strategy and results

The DMA Awards recognise the most inspiring and effective campaigns that always have the customer at their heart.

Therefore, it is vital that every decision in the judging criteria leads back to the impact on the most important stakeholder, the customer.

There are three key pillars that entries are judged on: Strategy, Creativity and Results.

The 2021 DMA Awards winners all displayed these qualities.


This key pillar is where an entry is measured against what it set out to do, the route it planned and mechanics it used to get there.

Effective campaigns incorporate into their strategy compelling incentives for their audience to interact with the brand’s products or services, reasons for customers to discuss benefits with their peers, and even a sense of urgency to try something new.


Any award within the creative industries should seek to celebrate those firecracker moments when ideas ignite to bring the world around us to life. Where concepts surge off the page, the screen, the billboard, the package, to take up residence in our minds and imaginations.

The most innovative campaigns can often invoke the most impassioned responses, drive customer engagement and, ultimately, increase brand loyalty with the consumer.


Results play a pivotal role in demonstrating the overall effectiveness of original creativity and rock-solid strategy. It is why marketing is an investment and not a cost.

Marketers must evaluate their campaigns according to stated campaign objectives, which may sound obvious, but for many it is easier said than done. Response objectives (such as sales, sign-ups, and leads) currently account for 36% of all measures identified in the DMA’s Intelligent Marketing databank – built on the back of over 850 DMA Awards submissions.

Brand objectives (such as awareness, consideration, and purchase intent) make up 17% of measures, and business measures (such as profit growth, shareholder value and market share) 6% of measures. In the future, 100% of measures submitted to the Judges should be focused on these three core groups of metrics – and not so-called ‘Vanity metrics’.

Results are clear evidence that the overall campaign mix was potent enough to make an impact and have the desired effect on the target audience.

Effective marketing builds trust and loyalty

There is no better way to engage with customers than through marketers who truly understand and can relate to them.

This all contributes to preserving the most important asset to any marketer: consumers’ trust.

Trust is important in all walks of life – but it is essential for sustainable business growth. DMA research shows it is the single biggest reason why customers are willing to share their data – above offers, discounts, etc.

By putting the customer first, brands can not only better understand their needs and wants, but actually build sustainable relationships based on trust and transparency. Marketers must place this front and centre of their thoughts when developing award-winning marketing campaigns.

Marketing that matters

Awards ceremonies not only act like a shop window for brands and agencies to showcase their best work, but they also offer the campaigns a sustaining legacy.

The winning campaigns will be viewed by aspiring marketers of future generations, highlighting what the very best that the industry has to offer and the impact this work had.

They are a fantastic opportunity to show the industry why your marketing matters!