Caples judging

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Discerning experts and creative professionals from throughout the industry and around the globe will be gathering this November to judge the 32nd annual John Caples International Awards. The competition is legendary for having high standards when it comes to critiquing the execution and strategy behind submissions.

"The heart of the show is to celebrate creative solutions to real-world direct marketing problems," explains Gary Scheiner, director of Caples Judging and chief creative officer at Rosetta.

For the second year in a row, the Caples organization is partnering with Haymarket Media, parent company of DMNews, to produce the event. Last year, among more than 850 entries, nearly 250 placed as finalists — with just 16 campaigns taking home Gold awards.

This year the two-day judging event will have twice the number of judges — nearly 90 in total — hailing from global agencies including Wunderman, Ogilvy, Rapp, Draftfcb, BBDO and Leo Burnett. More than 40 of this year's judges are based in the US, with other creative executives coming from Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Germany and other overseas destinations.

A number of former Caples winners make up the panel this year, including 2008 Gold winner Jason Inasi, creative director and CEO of Miami-based The Factory Interactive and 2007 Gold winner Simon Lee, creative director at Australia's Lavender. All judges must be full-time creative directors with a minimum of five years of experience, and are selected based on their executive level and experience with a variety of direct and digital marketing channels.

Over the course of two days, entries will go through two rounds of evaluation. First, they are screened in an elimination round for quality and meeting the criteria for excellence. Some of the basic standards include the piece having a clear call to action and relevance to the target audience and the marketer's campaign goals. Round two voting is based on a creative solution to the marketing problem via three categories: concept, or the overall creative idea; copy, or how well the copy is crafted; and art direction, or the use of design and graphic elements to deliver the message.

Each entry is scored by six judges for each category and a final score is derived from the average. It is a rigorous process that bans any judge that has a conflict of interest, including working for an agency that submitted that campaign or being involved with any aspect of the project.

This year, following on the heels of the One Show's recent policy change regarding award-show scammers, the John Caples International Awards is taking the same public stance.

"Fake entries have no place in our competition," said Patrick Fultz, President of Caples. "We are a show that celebrates the power of creativity in solving challenging marketing problems. The proof of that success lies in a real-world test of the work. So we stand behind our colleagues at the One Club in putting an end to such practices. Like the One Show, any agency caught entering work that was not commissioned by a paying client (or agency) and that did not run in an acceptable media channel, will have all of their entries banned from the Caples competition for 5 years."

Judging will take place this fall, on November 5 and 6. Entries for all categories must be received by September 28. Late entries will be accepted until October 5 with a $50 late fee. The Entry Kit is available at

This year's Awards feature two new categories: Best Art Direction and Best Copywriting. The awards can be given to a solo piece or a campaign and can be awarded to a group or an individual who worked on the campaign.


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