How to make Media Week judges see red in your entry

September is the month for serious media awards judging. The Oscars of the industry - the Media Week Awards - are entering the competition's final phase, when shortlisted agencies and media owners are turned into winners of silver and gold.

Sue Unerman is chief strategy officer at MediaCom
Sue Unerman is chief strategy officer at MediaCom

So how do judges' minds work? After all, they're only human - just like sporting referees. Wired magazine offers three smart insights into how referees' minds work, and there are lessons here for the Media Week Awards finalists.

Firstly, there is definitive proof that referees listen to crowds. Researchers asked two sets of football referees to judge game clips, where one group had the sound turned up and the other had the TV on mute. The referees who could hear the crowds called 15.5% fewer fouls against the (louder) home team.

In the same way, Media Week judges listen to clients. The claims of the agency or media owner are one thing in an awards entry. But an opinion from the man or woman whose money has been spent is quite another and has real authority.

Secondly, referees are not blind, but they do see things that aren't there. Vision scientists claim that to compensate for a 100-millisecond lag in our visual system, the brain creates an illusion that shifts objects in the direction they are travelling.

If a tennis ball looks as though it will bounce outside the line, we are likely to call it out even if it lands just inside the line at the last minute. But while a fast-moving game might fool Wimbledon umpires, Media Week judges have the time to think about their decisions and to engage in a fierce debate on judging day.

This will inevitably include a cynical desire to question appearances, and contestants will need an extremely well-supported case for the success of their entry. The more evidence of increased sales and awareness that are directly attributable to the cleverness of your thinking, the better you will do.

Finally, referees apparently prefer red, or at least martial arts referees do. Tae kwon do officials scoring fights on film gave more points to the fighters wearing red than those wearing blue. When the colours were digitally switched, amazingly, so too were the scores.

This may make sense on an unconscious level, as some behavioural psychologists believe people prefer red to other colours as it is the predominant colour of the womb.

In this interpretation, therefore, red is comforting, safe and familiar. Other psychologists take a completely different view and say red is the colour associated with anger, passion, love and pain.

Either way, red stands out and gets you noticed and it might help to have plenty of red in your final entry. Unless, of course, the Media Week judges are Chelsea fans.

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