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Turn your case study into Cannes Gold

April 4, 2013 at 1:43 by Team Adverblog Comments

It’s awards season - woot! So we thought (all of us here at Adverblog would do our first group post :) ) We thought it would be interesting to take a group-wide look at the Art of the Case Study, through the eyes of our editors who have all judged on the largest ad shows. It should really be a category in itself. The question is: Which awards show will feature “Best Case Study” first?

We’ve tried to identify some of the ingredients to a successful case study. It’s neither exhaustive nor a magic formula — but it’s a start.  At the end of the day, compelling ideas present themselves.

I guess we have to start here:

Nikolaj Fremming says: Here are some basics to start with. When making a Case Study video it’s so easy to fall into the trap of making the video itself into a master piece - and in a way it should be - but only as long as it’s 100% true to the idea that you’re trying to explain.
Here’s why:
Creative professionals judging at award shows are probably the toughest clients in the universe. They have spent their entire career fine-tuning their ability to judge ideas. For you who is about to craft a Case Study video, that is great news. Because if you come straight to the point, chances they will get your idea immediately and they will most likely also have seen the potential of your idea before you even come the to part where you explain about what you did with your idea and how you executed it. However, from that point on any attempt to impress them with stuff isn’t 100% relevant will only makes things worse. My point is respect your audience, keep it simple and don’t ever oversell your idea.

Daniel Granatta says: Watch these to get some insight: Released 2 or 3 years ago these videos with former jury chairs talking about this topic:

Fernando Vega Olmos

Lars Bastholm

One a side note: Iain Tait talking about last year winners:

Daniel: I think it’s so sad students just want to create a case-study video and then get a job in an agency… I’d encourage them to get their ideas done first and then try to explore that other side, what about leaving advertising for a while and creating your own job based on a fantastic idea you had.

0/An Idea - make sure it’s a real idea, not technology masking an idea.
Daniel says: “I would emphasize that the case should have, first of all… an idea! A real one… because there are so many cases without that, and that’s the real waste of time (imho).”
Mark Ashley-Wilson adds - “I agree about the idea Daniel. I’m judging FWA this year and over the past two months 80% of all submissions have been parallax scrolling sites, and they’re not good! The ONLY reason they submit is they think the fact they used this technology is worthy of an award. So my number one tip is don’t even think about submitting a site if you think that using a funky technology is a substitute for an idea.”

Tim Buesing says: Don’t forget the layout of the submission page: Have a compelling title at the top (why not in the style of the campaign?), start with the case study film, bullet point the main points of the challenge, strategy, idea, execution. And follow with the long copy below. I will read it when I am intrigued but don’t make me wade through long-winded, inflated hyperbole before I get to the idea and video. And no agency branding, please. Duh!

1/Time - don’t make the judges wait.

Bridget Jung says: This is the first case study I’ve seen that starts with a promise to cover the idea in under a minute which is sure to be a crowd pleaser with judges. Generally speaking it’s a good idea to keep the videos under 2 minutes (ideally 1m30).  Don’t fall into the trap of falling in love with your own work.

Mark says: Imagine sitting in a dark judging room with headphones on watching and listening to up to 300 case studies a day. Make yours short and exciting and you are already ahead!

2/Storytelling - make it interesting.

When you think about it, case studies have a tough audience - experienced experts from the industry!  But at the end of the day, judges are bored by seeing the same stuff and the same approach, over and over again.  The case studies that stand out craft a story that creates interest and engagement above and beyond the standard formula of “challenge; idea; execution; results”.

Bridget says: This case study for Carling Black Label is almost 3 minutes long but it doesn’t feel it. There’s a great setup around the insight and local context that leads straight to the idea which is well packaged “be the coach”.  The remaining two thirds of the video talk through the execution.

Mark says: Banner Concerts is also 3 minutes but ended up wining Gold in 2009 as the story was… well… super well told.

Laurent Buanec says: When I am judging there is a moment when a video case study starts and it’s the same damned song you have heard all day, because it is supposedly the hype cool zeitgeist whatever song of the moment. It ruins everything…

Tim says: Go easy on the ‘Never been done before’ - chances are I have indeed seen something similar before. Which isn’t bad at all. Only if you try to make me believe you were the first to ever think of connecting Twitter with your mum’s Facebook page.

The setup for Little Marina is inspired.  Done badly this could go very very wrong and when I saw this for the first time I was expecting them to reveal yet another fake celebrity blogger.  The storytelling around the setup and the Marina character gives the creative concept much more weight and impact when it’s revealed that in fact Marina is a giant puppet — not a fake celebrity blogger.

3/ The reveal - the idea or concept should have an “ah-ha” moment. If it has a name that’s even better as it helps judges remember the idea.  ”Pay with a tweet this” did this extremely well and perhaps even started the genre.

Laurent says: “I could also mention I find pointless, not to say upseting… when case studies use alibis like “seen on blogs” without any rationnal behind it… ”

Martina says: In a case study I’m always eager to know the results. Being the client I love creative ideas that deliver results :)
And it’s easy for a creative/agency to fall in love with an idea or a great execution

Only Jeans sets up a big expectation and then very quickly goes into how it works.

One of the few examples that does not rely on a voice over.  Once they get to “Zero emissions means it’s invisible to the environment” all the hard work is done.  How could anyone not award this case study?


4/ Style / format (including V/O and the push back on slick pro voice overs)

Tim says: Don’t use a custom video player and don’t put it on your shitty agency video server. Use YouTube like every other dweeb in the world. If I have to suck your 60 megabyte creative bonanza through a straw from your crappy PC that runs the rest of your country’s advertising case studies - I am in a bad mood already. Nothing kills your thrilling case dead in its track like a stuttering video player.

Bridget says: “Help I want to save a life” probably covers all 4 themes here.  The storytellling is great - to a point that you don’t even question who the advertiser is (band aid company or the bone marrow charity?).  There is a reveal for the concept. The idea is clever, well presented and the illustrated format breaks out from the somewhat standard glossy case study.

Mark says: If I ever see another case study that uses Fatboy Slim’s Right here, Right now track I will explode :)

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