Comment: The Champions League of marketing awards

Glasgow's Commonwealth Games success helped earn several teams their nominations. Picture: Getty
Glasgow's Commonwealth Games success helped earn several teams their nominations. Picture: Getty
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STAR agencies have the chance to shine as the industry honours those who have delivered, writes Graeme Atha

The Marketing Society Star Awards are the highlight of the year for many marketing and agency professionals in Scotland. The awards dinner at the end of June was sold out weeks ago with nearly 500 guests making it one of the biggest marketing events in the UK beyond London.

Gold, silver and bronze stars will be awarded across five categories – development, strategic, communication, sector and champions.

In the champions category, the leading marketing organisations in Scotland are recognized from both the client and agency side. The shortlists for these awards are determined by performance across the other categories.

A Champions League table is created, with organisations being awarded four points for a gold star, three for a silver, two for a bronze and one for a shortlisted entry.

The top six performing client and agency organisations make up the shortlists and are then required to complete a questionnaire detailing their overall performance across the year, their commitment to training and development and their contribution to the industry.

This year the shortlist for star agency of the year is Frame, Tayburn, The Lane Agency, The Leith Agency, The Union and Whitespace.

The judges also take into consideration the quality of selected star awards entries from the shortlisted organisations.

From Frame, their papers included an innovative campaign to recruit students to Dundee University and a case study on how Harper McLeod made the most of its sponsorship of the Commonwealth Games.

Tayburn’s papers ranged from the development of the Trex brand to the highly impactful “People Make Glasgow” branding campaign.

The Lane Agency have a number of shortlisted campaigns including Border’s Biscuits and Graham’s the Family Dairy.

The Leith Agency are shortlisted with several of their Scottish Government papers as well as a highly visible campaign for Great Western Railways in London and the south-west of England.

The Union also have a wide range of shortlisted entries, which range from a campaign to encourage children’s hearing panel volunteers to promoting golf with the Scottish Golf Union.

As well as a number of shortlisted papers including a campaign for Innis & Gunn, Whitespace also have two of their rising stars shortlisted in the development category.

Making up the shortlist for star marketing team of the year are AG Barr, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Graham’s The Family Dairy, Tennent’s, Scottish Government and VisitScotland.

The major campaign for AG Barr in 2014 was its range of activities in support of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, from TV advertising to social media and experiential initiatives.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe recognised the Commonwealth Games might have an impact on its ticket sales and developed its “Unboring” campaign to ensure this did not happen.

Graham’s The Family Dairy continues to invest and build a strong brand in a very competitive market using its company values of integrity and support of its industry suppliers

Tennent’s demonstrated 
the importance of a strong digital presence and social media activity as well as major events such as T in the Park 
and the development of Drygate, an experimental craft brewery.

The Scottish Government continues to demonstrate excellent work with a wide variety of social and health campaigns from anti-smoking and anti-litter case studies to the promotion of organ donation.

Finally VisitScotland has various entries shortlisted including campaigns for the Year of Homecoming and the Ryder Cup as well as having one of its team on the rising marketing star shortlist.

There are two individual champion awards – one for agency star of the year and one for marketing star of the year. The shortlists are made up from nominated candidates who have been involved with their organisations’ entries across the categories.

They also have to complete a questionnaire detailing their personal achievements and professional development in 2014 as well as their commitment to the industry.

The shortlisted nominations for agency star of the year are Richard Carlaw, Frame; Simon Farrell, Tayburn; Ali Finlay, The Lane Agency; Kyle Hardie, The Union; Victoria Milne, The Leith Agency; Ian Valentine, Whitespace.

The shortlisted nominees for marketing star of the year are Elizabeth Burchell, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society; Paul Condron, Tennent’s; Cathy Craig, Caledonian MacBrayne; Carol Graham; Graham’s The Family Dairy; Tom Rice, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau; Martin Steele, AG Barr.

The awards are central to promoting Scotland as a world leading marketing community and a great place to study, work and invest in marketing. The gold star winners in the champions category are also great ambassadors for the industry.

• Graeme Atha is a director of the Marketing Society and details of the Marketing Society Star Awards and shortlists can be found on

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