Opinion: This case season, write right

The author lists five ways to improve effective case writing

Oct 18, 2022 08:07:00 AM | Article | Divya Agarwal

LinkedIn feeds are rife with Effies APAC wins or agency rankings. You are either celebrating or working towards India submissions. Hopefully, this time we will come together once again at Taj Land’s End celebrating the best of selling and solutions the country’s top marketing has to offer. 
While we take pride in that one night and update agency rankings and CVs annually right after, we barely if ever, talk about what goes on behind the scenes. An annual event lasting a few weeks which every strategist has a lovely love-hate relationship with - the case writing season. 
Having hated this process over 50+ times (wrote those many cases single-handedly) and loved it 40+ times (each time a case converts to a metal, especially when it was a Gold or a Grand Prix), I find myself for the first time in many years without a case to write. 
Let this be my ode to all case writers, applauding their wins and efforts, and a small manifesto to help you and your teams, in case you are entering. 
Or just a self-indulging case for cases. 
After over a decade of writing and helping others write, I feel writing winning cases has less to do with being a good writer, having good 'English', although that is the primary medium, and a lot more to do with other skills. 
Effective case writing, like creating effective campaigns, is a mix of taking ownership, going into deep dives, clarity of logic, endurance to customise, finding fun in the process, and partnering with your biggest stakeholders.
Or, just being a driver, a detective, a lawyer, a tailor, a poet, maybe a filmmaker and a midfielder. 
Let me elaborate:
Being a driver 
Like in life, and most roles, writing Effies is a solitary enterprise. 
Have your team’s unequivocal support, but designate a driver. A navigator is extremely helpful, but the driver decides, decodes, and well, drives. In this case, the case and its narrative. 
100% ownership gives cases a seamless flow. Always take inputs. But never plug just because your super boss said so. Understand, then add. 
Being a detective 
Like any sleuth worth her salt, look at all the evidence. Not just the business results. Explore every tiny activity. Scour digital. Scan media spends. Speak to your clients. 
While writing my first-ever case on Fevikwik, I discovered things that drove effectiveness in the remotest of places through the right customization. Discussing these helped make a solid case, strengthened my camaraderie with my clients, and paved the way for future detailings and discussions. 
Being a lawyer 
There can be different evidence points. But it makes sense only with reference and context. An irrefutable logic helps the judges see WHY you did WHAT you did. Just because you feel passionate about the hard work put in during the 845 revisions to a poster, and an endowment effect kicks in, don’t waste a paragraph emphasising that. 
In a swarm of evidence, pick the ones that build the case the strongest. 
Being a tailor
A bespoke suit made of the finest fabric will only fit the one it's made for, and one size doesn’t fit all. Even for Effies, customise the case for every category entered. 
This ensures a better strike rate of shortlists, metals, and the deep satisfaction of a piece well stitched. 
Being a poet 
At the end of the day, we are in a creative industry, and while the idea of left vs right brain is a debate for another day, I feel every strategist is a closet copywriter. Bring the flair out. 
Tell that story with the precision of assertive prose and the love of a poem. 
Being a filmmaker
While an 11-page case is your love letter to the judging bench, the AV is the rose you send with it. It helps pick the right shade. The two-minute AV, while the art and copy team’s responsibility, is the planner's playground. Partner with them. 
The narrative needs to be exciting, logical and always have a happy ending of effectiveness. 
Thought-provoking open-ended content is good only in cinema. 
Being a midfielder
Finally, be a team player. You might get the ball there, but let someone else strike. Client approvals, information gathering, and creative collaborations can be tricky territories that work best with the best intentions in mind - a collective win. 
Finally, have everything tied with the love laces of citations and sourcing before hitting submit. 
Like everything else in life, have fun. If it’s not feeling it, don’t do it. 
Be your team’s support system. Be a Mike to your Harvey Spectre! Dig up some solid research. Or, get the gang vadapav and chai on a suffering Sunday. Proofread. Provide entertainment. There are so many ways to contribute. 
Writing a case may be a seasonal flu one can avoid, but it's also a crash course in understanding a brand and a category like no other. It's an intense affair that teaches you more than it takes from you. Often opens your eyes to work done and work yet to be done. 
(The author is a seasoned strategist, awarded photographer, and a planning mentor. She is ex VP Ogilvy and working on her next adventure.)