Recommendations for the On Hold Messaging Association MARCE Awards

Recommendations for OHMA MARCE Awards

In January 2010, Mind The Gap submitted an on hold messaging production to the annual 2010 OHMA MARCE Awards competition. (You can click here to listen to our submission.) Even though we have been working in this industry for over 15 years, Mind The Gap is not a member of the OHMA. Regardless, we wished to see how our work compared to our peers.

MARCE AwardIn March, we received a letter from the OHMA advising us that we did not win a MARCE Award. In addition, it outlined the judges’ comments about our work and provided scores from each judge and an aggregate score. Even though it was expected that we’d receive notification of the result, we were surprised and thankful to see the judges’ comments and scores.

Overall, our score was poor, 35 out of 100, the latter being the highest rating. Judge #1 had the most favorable score, 62, and comment, “Script was fine. Messages were appropriate. It was well produced……” Whereas, Judge #3 had the worst, 17, and “no comment.” We figured Judge #3 thought it sucked.

I have been in the professional recording industry for 25 years and understand that there are many specialties involved in producing an excellent audio program. It includes the vocal talent and performance, music composition and production, copywriting and mastering. Each one of these specialties requires unique skills and years of experience. Typically, no individual can be an expert in them all.

Regarding the OHMA judges for the MARCE Awards, it appears they’re written on a whim with no reference to their expertise. Though there is a brief biography for each judge on OHMA’s site, identifying “who said what” and specifying their skill sets would lend credibility to their assessments.
With any competition, it’s important to augment subjective commentary with an objective criterion. Specifically, OHMA should have at least five key areas to reference:

  • Vocal Talent & Performance
  • Copywriting
  • Music Composition & Production
  • Technical Production
  • Creativity & Originality

Each one should be rated from a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. Now, there may be other areas to include or some to be replaced but at least these key areas and their ratings will serve as a frame of reference for each production and support the judges’ comments. In addition, these ratings should be added to each entry’s overall score.

Finally, in spite of these omissions and limitations, I think this competition is good for our industry and we look forward to participating in the future.

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2 Responses to “Recommendations for the On Hold Messaging Association MARCE Awards”

  1. Marc A Gallo April 27, 2010 at 5:38 pm #


    Thank you for your time and comments.

    First, I want to stress that I think it’s commendable you provide the judges’ comments and scores in your letters as opposed to just sending a notice. It’s clearly above the norm.

    Second, we have no suspicions of the judges’ comments. Rather we just wanted more disclosure regarding their specific skill sets and identifying who made which comment. According to the bios on your site, two of the judges are from radio and one from video. As we know, there’s many different ways to bake an on hold program depending on avg hold time, marketing philosophy and listening clientele. My inkling is these judges are biased toward radio and TV ads.

    Third, if possible, try to include the respective scores of each category above in your letter.

    Fourth, thanks for requiring all judges to produce a constructive comment.

    Finally, I’m probably disturbing the hornet’s nest here but it’s a conflict of interest to chair the awards and submit your company’s work plus win the top award. As well intended, honorable, faithful and any other attribute we can use to positively describe you, your company and OHMA, the arrangement is intrinsically problematic. To be above reproach, the chair should recuse him/herself and their company from submitting their work to the competition.

    Nevertheless, I think OHMA is making valuable contributions to our industry, though like any other association, changes are sometimes needed.

    Marc A. Gallo
    Mind The Gap

  2. Jerry Brown April 27, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    Thank you for your candid comments and suggestions regarding the MARCE awards.

    Since 2005, the On Hold Messaging Association has presented awards to honor the year’s best On Hold Messaging productions. The MARCE Awards (formerly known as The Holdies) is an international competition that encourages and rewards creative and marketing excellence among On Hold Messaging providers exclusively. In doing so, we hope to raise the creative and marketing standards of all On Hold Messaging agencies and the expectations of clients and their callers.

    You expressed concern that the judging and the judging criteria may be somewhat suspect. Hopefully, the following information will make you more comfortable with the credibility of the competition.

    First, three new judges are selected each year based on their experience in the audio marketing industry. Their primary source of income must not be derived from On Hold Messaging and they must not have an affiliation with any entrant. Combined, this year’s judges have written, produced, directed, and been honored for audio marketing projects for more than 85 years.

    Second, the MARCE competition has very strict judging criteria. Each entry is to be judged on a scale of 1 to 10 in categories 1 through 4 (below). To emphasize the importance of creativity and marketing effectiveness, the judges’ scores for categories 5 and 6 will be tripled. (100 points equals a perfect score.)
    1. Copy – Presentation of information, calls to action, and – if any – humor or characters; plus the overall effectiveness of the script.
    2. Voice – Voice quality; interpretation of copy; “connection” with the audience; is the voice type appropriate for the script, the client and/or their industry?
    3. Production Value – Recording; mixing; music editing; creative choices; use of music, sound effects and/or special elements.
    4. On Hold Messaging Format – Based on the length of individual messages and the overall tone, is the production appropriate for use as On Hold Messaging, as opposed to broadcast applications or other types of audio marketing presentations?
    5. Overall Creativity – Is the concept original? Are the ideas well executed by the production and voiceover talent? Is it intentionally funny or does it effectively create a specific mood? Does the production “raise the bar” and change your idea of what On Hold Messaging can be?
    6. Effectiveness as a Marketing Tool – Does the production support the specific marketing goals as expressed by the entrant? Would the production motivate you to buy or seek more information about the company or its products? Does it support what you perceive to be the client’s brand identity? Does it help to differentiate the client’s company? Would callers listening to it consider it a positive customer experience?

    My company has been entering audio marketing competitions annually for 20 years and we’ve been honored with scores of awards. It’s been my experience that The MARCE’s is the only competition that sends letters to every submitting agency detailing how their entries were scored. With that said, one improvement that will be made for next year’s competition is that individual judge’s comments will be mandatory for every entry they judge. “No comment” will no longer be allowed.

    Again, I appreciate your condor and that you took the time to give us suggestions on how to improve the competition. Hopefully we’ll see your work again next year.

    Good Marketing,
    Jerry Brown, MARCE Chairman