The 2021 International Content Marketing Awards: what inspired us?

Chris Todhunter

My passion for all things tech started with programming a ZX81 as a kid and hasn't wavered during the 25+ years of working in the sector. Being at the helm of an agency (with my amazing partner, Jack de Wolf) has meant that we have been able build something we are truly proud of. A brilliant team of committed, passionate individuals with a common aim - to use our skills and our 9-5 to use in making a positive difference through the work we do with our amazing charity clients.

Chris Todhunter, Founder and Technical Director

Judging at the 2021 International Content Marketing Awards

Our very own Managing Director Jack De Wolf and Business Growth Director Fleurie Forbes-Martin were proud to be called upon as judges at the International Content Marketing Awards 2021.

More specifically, Jack De Wolf was asked to judge and announce their new ‘Best Purpose-Led Content’ category which focuses on work that supports issues and goals wider than the organisations themselves. An area that remains a focus to our client work and ourselves as a B Corp. So it wouldn’t be right to keep these insights to ourselves if we want to see a wider impact in the type of content we all create in 2022. We hope the below can inspire your future content.

We pride our awards on being judged by independent industry experts, and after meeting Jack virtually earlier in the year and hearing all about the work that Studio Republic do as a B-corp, we knew that they would be perfectly placed to judge our Best Purpose-Led Content category that was new this year. We’re really grateful to them both for all their time they offered to volunteer - they helped us crown some worthy winners.

Natasha Glazebrook

Marketing and Events Manager at The CMA

What is the International Content Marketing Awards? 

The 2021 International Content Marketing Awards is organised by The Content Marketing Association (The CMA). It recognises agencies and brands across the world who offer up their greatest work over the last 12 months for judgement by some of the greatest names in the industry (this was quoted direct from the source, but we do think Jack and Fleurie are pretty damn great at what they do, no bias of course…). They are ultimately then crowned the best in content marketing and set the tone for the following year to come. 

So, we virtually sat down with Jack and Fleurie to find out the inner workings of this year’s entries and gain exclusive insight / tips into what makes the best content stand out and engage audiences in 2021.

Disclaimer: there are some juicy insider insights in here so if you’re still reading, please keep this to yourself (!)

Q: What brought you both to judge this year’s International Content Marketing Awards? 

We met Natasha Glazebrook who is The CMA’s marketing and events manager on the LunchClub platform earlier this year. We had a great chat and she described The CMA’s International Content Marketing Awards to me which sounded really inspiring. Having never been a judge before I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation a few months later. 

Q: If you were to select one winner that stood out to you in judging, who would it be and why? 

Well, I think the Trojan Mug by Hyper for Capgemini Norway was a genius stunt that delivered on its mission in a really clever way.

Posing as fellow Java developers with a passion for coffee, they created the website where they told the story of a pre-kickstarter hobby project: An especially mild coffee blend tailored for developers sick of drinking bad coffee. Made from Java beans of course.

Using software developer lingo, they asked other Norwegian developers on Reddit and LinkedIn if they wanted to test the coffee for free. They needed to pass a Java riddle on the site to prove that they were software developers. Once they’d passed the test they were asked to leave their address so they could be sent a bag of the coffee and a special coffee mug … a very special Trojan coffee mug!

When filled with hot coffee, the heat-sensitive mug would reveal a mysterious message alongside a QR code. When scanned, the QR-code redirected to Capgemini’s content platform where they revealed the plot to get their attention (whilst apologising for the deception) and told them what it was like working at Capgemini and showed them the job advertisement.

After the plot was revealed, they launched the second phase of the campaign. A rebranding of with Capgemini’s logo. Developers could still order a sample of the coffee for free, in exchange they asked for consent to contact them directly about the need for more Java developers.

Genius! They managed to reach the target of 150 orders in just two days…! In total 227 unique users completed the Java riddle on and thus proved to be the target audience. They actually ran out of coffee after only two days and had to order extra. Of these 227 who received the coffee, 150 unique users scanned the QR-code and reached Capgemini’s site.

Q: From all the great work entered this year, were there any general themes that you noticed in why they were so successful in engaging their audiences? 

A theme that obviously came up a number of times was navigating the challenges presented by COVID. Whether that was working around the lack of physical interaction and a digitized alternative experience, the need for vaccination uptake or the opportunity to utilise personal filming and copywriting skills due to lockdown restrictions. It felt like organisations did the best they could with the limited resources available to create real impact. So it was less about throwing huge budgets at initiatives and more about thinking strategically and outside of the box that resonated most. 

Q: If you were sat in a room full of budding content marketers today, what tips would you share on creating engaging content based on this year’s judging experience? 

The most engaging content isn’t over-complicated, the ideas are simple and are executed in a very special way, a creative way. When a piece of content comes from a genuine, honest place, you can feel the emotion behind it and you will ultimately be rewarded with a reaction and in the most effective cases, action. 

The first-class entries we saw this year all took a message or motive that we can all intrinsically understand and translated it in a new and imaginative way. 

One of the games we like to play when we’re problem-solving helps us to reframe the way we perceive information. The old adage ‘when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change’ is so powerful when it comes to creative thinking. Rather than trying to solve a problem from your own point of view when you’ve hit a block, try coming at the problem in a completely new way. We used far-out characters like Spider Man or Miss Marple. Forget asking yourself over and over about how you would solve the problem and ask what Spider Man would do? The literal response might not hit the mark but it opens your brain up to new ways of thinking.


Q: Finally, what would you say to anyone that’s considering applying to judge next year’s International Content Marketing Awards? 

Content can change our world for the better. I would encourage anyone that has an interest in innovative and audience-led work to jump at the chance to judge the CMAs and learn from the best. The calibre of work cross-category is so high, which makes judging the awards inspiring and for those entering, winning a CMA an incredible achievement. Don’t miss out, join the best.

Want to share a challenge with Jack? Contact us today.