Simon Au of Kraft Heinz on Taking Risks | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

Simon Au of Kraft Heinz on Taking Risks


What will it take to have your work make it to the winners' circle? ANA's Judges' Journals features a series of Q&A sessions with leading industry executives participating on 2024 ANA Award juries. You can gain insight from the judges on what they will be looking for and what makes the difference between a good versus award worthy submission. In this segment, Denise McDevitt, SVP of award programs at ANA connects with Simon Au, executive creative director at The Kitchen @ Kraft Heinz and 2024 ANA In-House Excellence Awards Judge.

Every entrant wants to know what it will take to win an ANA In-House Excellence Award. What campaign components will you be looking for this year to distinguish good vs. exceptional?

To distinguish exceptional entries, I'll be closely examining several key components:

  • Innovative thinking, pushing the boundaries of what's possible within the given constraints.
  • Strong strategy and insight that lead to the idea.
  • How your results directly tie to your campaign objectives.
  • Show me you understand your audience, their needs and preferences.

We have a variety of "realities" to work in these days, XR, AR, MR, VR, what priority will you be giving to entries that implement an integration of traditional and new tech realities in their marketing efforts?

Ultimately, the work will be judged on how the new technology enhances and bring the core idea to life, using the tech for tech sakes without a great idea always falls flat.

In the submission form, we ask entrants to impress and excite us with the "ah-ha" solution they developed. What elements are you expecting the entrant to share in this section? What are you hoping to learn?

I am hoping entrants to share how their solution was truly unique and the inspiration behind the "ah-ha" moment. I'm hoping to learn about their ability to think differently, adapt to challenges, and craft solutions that have a direct positive impact on their campaigns.

A key section of the case study submission is dedicated to how teams brought their big idea to life; for you as a judge, what details would you consider critical for entrants to include? What will it take for this section to achieve a higher score over other submissions?

Tell me a story that showcases how your team worked together creatively to bring the idea to life. I would like to see details like:

  • From concept to execution – walk me through the creative process.
  • How you reached the strategy behind the work.
  • Any challenges faced during implementation and the solutions you came up with to address them.
  • How did your campaign successfully meet (or exceed) its objectives.

An effective performance evaluation framework is critical to show the value a marketing campaign delivered. What type of evaluation framework do you use when assessing marketing efforts? What metrics and KPIs will you expect entrants to provide in their submissions?

Earned impressions is important to me, it shows how well it impacted culture.

Risk taking and effectiveness, sometimes friends, sometimes foes. How have you handled the balance in your marketing efforts, and how will you weigh these elements in your judging of the In-House Excellence submissions?

A truly bold breakthrough idea always carries risk, without it the work will be wallpaper. I rather see something that "risky" and challenge me then not at all. I push my team every day to make bold decisions and I would like to see the same in the work that I'm judging.

My last question – if you could offer just one key suggestion, one request in your role as an In-House Excellence Awards judge to teams preparing their entries. What would it be? How would you complete this sentence, "If nothing else, be sure your submission..."?

Make sure the work is backed up with a strong strategic insight that is based on human truth.

The ANA In-House Awards program is dedicated to showcasing the most creative, strategic, and growth-driving advertising created by any type of in-house team dynamic.

The final deadline to submit work into the 2024 In-House Excellence Awards program is February 9, 2024.

Awards will be presented to top in-house teams for the best advertising and marketing projects of 2023 across thirteen different categories plus the In-House Agency of the Year honor at the In-House Excellence Awards Gala - a special evening reception/dinner awards ceremony event at the ANA In-House Agency Conference & Awards Gala | May 15, 2024 | Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, Carlsbad, California.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Denise McDevitt is SVP of award programs at ANA.