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4 lessons from my One Show Caribbean adventure

Roanna Williams, Net#workBBDO chief creative officer and Creative Circle chairperson, recently travelled to the Caribbean as a One Show 2023 judge for the Integrated and Experiential & Immersive category.
Image supplied.Roanna Williams, Net#workBBDO chief creative officer and Creative Circle chairperson, recently travelled to the Caribbean as a One Show 2023 judge
Image supplied.Roanna Williams, Net#workBBDO chief creative officer and Creative Circle chairperson, recently travelled to the Caribbean as a One Show 2023 judge

Here she shares her One Show Caribbean adventure and some of the lessons she learnt there. The One Show Creative Week starts next week, Monday 15 May and culminates on Friday 19 May, with the Gala Celebration in New York.

Best advertising in the world

I have been privileged to judge the One Show once before, in lockdown on my couch. This time however, was different. After two long flights, 23 hours of inflight entertainment for company, and an out of office reply that read “I am currently out of the office, 11,329km away, judging the One Show 50th year” I landed in the heart and soul of the Caribbean.

Hola! San Juan, Puerto Rico!

I spent the next three days, in a dark airconditioned room, on very comfortable chairs* with 10 talented creatives and two exceptional marketers from around the globe.

We watched, thought “I wish I had done that”, debated, ate choc chip cookies again and again, fell head over heels in love with craft and discussed some of the best advertising in the world. We then closed each day sipping pina coladas on the beach.

The judging room
The judging room

Giving back

The One Show selects their judging cities with great care. Everything they do has ‘giving’ at the core. Every year they find a country that has endured challenges.

Hurricane Maria devasted Puerto Rico a few years ago. So, hosting it there was the One Shows way of giving back to the region. Even the *comfortable chairs that I mentioned earlier, were donated to Puerto Rican community’s post our judging.

No shortcuts

It’s a great honour to judge the One Show, however, it’s not all sunshine, beach, cocktails and salsa. It takes commitment, resilience and time. Before even going to Puerto Rico, each of our category jurors had pre-judged and scored 576 case study videos, each two minutes long. Do the maths!

The pre-judging round is really important. There are no shortcuts. Every piece entered is given the opportunity it deserves to get through to the shortlist. The first round determines the shortlist which are then judged in a second and third round in person in Puerto Rico. This is where the creative benchmark gets set and the ground breaking work shines.

Lessons learnt

I’d like to share a few lessons I learnt in and outside the jury room as a judge on the Integrated and Experiential & Immersive categories.

The first thing that stood out for me was the diversity of the jurors. Being able to take part in final metal discussions in person with exceptional industry people from all corners of the globe, with completely different backgrounds, cultures, languages and experience, is where even the most experienced judges grow. The ideas that rose to the top, were all brilliantly simple.

  • Lesson #1 - Keep it brilliantly simple
  • Brands celebrating and embracing their authentic selves was a clear trend. We witnessed brands being unafraid to lean into their imperfections. This takes a brave marketer. And work that is unmistakably ownable by the brand.

    A great example of this was Cheetos, the much-loved cheesy treats that turns your fingers orange with cheetle dust, making it hard to touch or control anything. So, they very cleverly claimed to be the inspiration behind any invention that is hands-free, making cheetle dust the hero, hands down.

    (Cheetos is a finalist in the Integrated: Integrated Campaign, and Film & VideoTelevision & VOD - 31-60 Seconds – Single for its Hands Free campaign.)

  • Lesson #2 – Own your authentic self
  • The metaverse. The metaverse. The metaverse… again. In all honesty, the metaverse got a bit repetitive. When every second idea says, we put our brand in the metaverse, you had better make sure what you do in the metaverse is relevant, innovative and unique.

  • Lesson #3 – Use of the metaverse is not a creative idea
  • Due to economic decline overall in the world, we saw some brands shining away from purpose driven work to selling product. The groundbreaking work that did this, magnetically attracted the viewers’ attention, was super simple, flawlessly crafted and left you feeling happy.

    The Singularity by Squarespace, the website that makes websites, is a great example of this.

    (Squarespace is a finalist in five categories, with Singularity in one category and Singularity BTS in three categories.)

  • Lesson #4 – Brands should be magnetic?
  • Judging the One Show was a pure celebration of work, creativity for the soul and conversations in and out the jury rooms that turned into friendships.

    Hosting it in a place where the old world is mashed up with the new, made it a one-of-a-kind captivating and vibrant experience and the perfect judging venue to host the One Show’s 50th year.

Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat.

Thank you Kevin Swanepoel and the formidable One Club for Creativity team for having me.

About Roanna Williams

chief creative officer at Net#workBBDO and Creative Circle chairperson 2023.

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