Marcus Tesoriero: No poolside junket – What it’s really like to judge The One Show

Marcus Tesoriero: No poolside junket – What it’s really like to judge The One Show

Marcus Tesoriero (above left), chief creative officer at The General Store, Sydney represented Australia on The One Show Direct Marketing jury in Puerto Rico. Here Tesoriero, takes us behind the scenes in the judging process and discusses his sit down with The One Club CEO Kevin Swanepoel (right) about The One Show’s 50th anniversary.


Several months back, while pumping through the daily grind, I received an unexpected ping in my inbox which made me shoot back in my chair – then slide back in to double check it wasn’t spam: “You are invited to judge The One Show awards in Puerto Rico.”

Fist pump. Yes. Invitation accepted. I was privileged to judge One Show once before, but who turns down a trip to Puerto Rico? This time I was asked to join the Direct Marketing jury.

But if you’re thinking that it was all rum, rice and salsa dancing – think again.

Before the trip even began, every judge was put through their paces. In the weeks leading up to Puerto Rico, I had over 400 entries with two-minute case studies from around the world to pre-judge. I know how much time and effort was invested in each of those case studies too, so for me, it’s super important that each entry gets the attention it deserves.

And although the early rounds of online pre-judging are time consuming, they are also a real eye-opener for the many forms of creativity the world is belting out right now. Yes, a few projects miss the mark completely, but most of the work is super impressive. It really highlights the micro differences between good work and breakthrough work that deserves a shortlist nomination.

Cut to three plane rides and 36 hours later – I arrive in Puerto Rico. Hola fancy hotel, quick ocean dip and welcome cocktails with the jury. Everyone is super talented and interesting, but most of the conversation circulates around how tired we all are. Time for an early night to prepare for three days of concentrated judging in a dark room.

Marcus Tesoriero: No poolside junket – What it’s really like to judge The One Show

This is when the reminder kicks in that judging One Show is no poolside junket. Instead, the right brain activates, and you fall in love with the beautiful work that’s been shortlisted.

The dark jury room is where judging kicks up a gear and you decipher the fine line between great shortlisted work, and the game-changing work which deserves metal. The idea must be genius, the case film must be captivating, the results from solving the problem must be unparalleled. All of this begs the question: How much extra effort and craft are you willing to put in to make work which reaches this level? Trust me, the benchmark is higher than you’re imagining.

Culling to the top, the simplest reason for marking down work at this stage is because it’s wrong for the category. It seems that many agencies view the Direct Marketing category as a lucky dip, simply entering any great work to have a crack because they don’t quite understand the category – or they hope that the judges don’t.

I love judging Direct Marketing as it’s the one category which truly requires a noticeable action from the target audience to create a clear result. So, if you’re wondering if your work fits the category next year, here’s basically how our jury assessed it.

Direct Marketing work should have a specific target audience and the work should directly elicit some form of response from that audience. Simple, right? Far from it, when you see what you’re up against.

From what I saw, three common trends appeared this year in much of the work – gaming, the metaverse and the big new trend, artificial intelligence (AI).

AI was the most interesting one for me. Talking with the rest of the jury, it was really obvious which ideas utilised AI when it first entered the global discussion last year, compared to more advanced AI based ideas that looked like they were created in 2023. AI technology is evolving exponentially – by the week. Scary for some, but for those using it properly, the possibilities are like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

Marcus Tesoriero: No poolside junket – What it’s really like to judge The One Show

Rounding off the trip, we did manage to enjoy a fantastic final dinner and checked out the gorgeous old town of Puerto Rico. Many good friends made from a raft of interesting conversations in and out of the jury room.

Having a final sit-down with Kevin Swanepoel, CEO of One Show, he told me this is why it was so important to get back to in-person judging. He says it’s more than what happens in the room that guides decisions on the best work. It’s the discussions at breakfast and lunch, the intermingling with other juries plus the context people provide from different cultures and different parts of the globe – that’s what creates the best result.

I asked Kevin what the 50th anniversary of One Show means to him. And he sees no sign of things slowing down. Like the evolution of a planet, its gravitational force is pulling in new programs and ventures to support the creative community. Aside from the number of award shows and events, One Club has branched out to new areas like Allies in Recruiting, championing talent and educating the ad community to help create a more diverse and inclusive creative industry.

It’s also looking at ways to get young people involved with big tech, social media and creative, added Kevin. A program is in the works.

For me, all this passion and drive for creativity is what makes judging One Show such an amazing experience. Once you’re immersed in the work, you could be judging on Mars, let alone Puerto Rico.

And it’s great to see The One Show team are on a mission to keep that drive going, which Kevin summed up perfectly: “One Show may be 50 years on, but we’re still looking forward. We’re interested in where the industry is headed and how we can help craft the journey.”