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You won't win awards or beat Romans by relying solely on the aesthetics

In 1946, Bedouin shepherds stumbled on a huge archaeological discovery. The findings provide a useful reminder as we enter the serious end of the media awards-judging season.

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In caves near the Dead Sea, they found a series of scrolls housed in jars. By 1951, a full excavation was under way and, in the end, nearly 1,000 documents were discovered.

The documents were dated to the time of Jesus – around 33CE. It took years for their full publication, and they are still surrounded in controversy and mystery.

Most of the content comprises versions of the Old Testament, and the scrolls appear to form the library of a Jewish sect – the Sons of Light – who fled to the caves to escape the Romans. In addition to fragments of every book of the Old Testament (except for the Book of Esther), there are prophecies by Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Daniel not found in the Bible.

There are also non-biblical scrolls that include writings on law, community rules, war conduct, thanksgiving psalms, hymns and benedictions.

The scroll of war would not have been much use in fighting the notoriously efficient Roman army. It mainly consists of detailed instructions about exactly what must be written on trumpets, banners and weapons: for example, on darts must be written "bloody spikes to bring down the slain by the wrath of God".

We have all wasted time looking for the perfect image for our charts and left the argument until last

Precise instructions are also given about the appearance of weapons: the spike of a spear should have "ears of corn in pure gold pointing towards the tip".

Lovely as it sounds, it is, of course, all style and no strategy. This sounds like a gorgeous-looking PowerPoint presentation that has got no strategy behind it. And we have all wasted time looking for the perfect image for our presentation charts and left the construction of the argument until last (when, of course, it must come first).

Looks are important. I was once called by an irate boss, who was judging some industry awards, shouting that our entries were not as pretty as our competitors’ (I’d been concentrating on the content instead). But as we get into the heart of awards-judging season, I will be looking out for beautiful entries that don’t have much of a strategy or weak tactics and results that are no more than a manipulation of statistics. Just as with fighting the Romans, aesthetics are not enough.

Sue Unerman is the chief strategy officer at MediaCom
@sueu

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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