How does the Mojo 100 work? Billy Langsworthy on the nomination process – and why bribes won’t help!

Billy langsworthy, Deej Johnson, Mojo Nation 100

Billy, it’s that time of year again… The Mojo 100 nominations are in – and your pen is out! For those wondering what happens after they make a nomination, though, what’s the process?
It comes round sooner every year! Yes, once nominations come through, we compile them all by category, remove details of who sent them and pass the nominations to a panel of experts from across the industry to review.

Remove details, you said there! That’s important for what reason?
We want the entire process to be anonymous. So even the people that help us whittle the list down to the final 100 don’t actually know who said what about who.

And when it comes down to a massively oversubscribed category, though – which a few of them are…
Well, on that… They’re actually all hugely oversubscribed now; a Mojo Nation 300 would make our lives a lot simpler!

This is true! In fact, we could triple the size of it and still have a problem! So I was going to ask: what helps a nomination get through?
So there’re a few things that I’ve found help. The first is pretty obvious but easy to overlook… It’s compelling reasons WHY someone should be in the list – and reasons relating to the past 12 months.

Billy langsworthy, Deej Johnson, Mojo Nation 100

Specific, topical reasons?
Yes. The Mojo 100 is an annual round-up, so saying “They’re brilliant” or citing an invention that came out 30 years ago, unfortunately, isn’t enough. Nominations that reflect the past year will always do better. The second thing is for a person or team to have multiple nominations. We accept self-nominations, and they can be great, but someone that’s received lots of nominations – containing lots of compelling reasons – often stands a better chance than one self-nomination. So don’t be shy in asking partners, colleagues or clients to put you forward.

Okay! So numerous nominations for the same person tend to carry weight. But isn’t – well, I’ll come back to that! What I think you’ve made clear so far is that this isn’t you and Adam pointing to people and saying, “They’re lovely people! They’ve got to go in.” But is sponsorship ever a factor?
Absolutely not. Sponsors don’t get any kind of preferential treatment. Integrity is key here, and that’s why our sponsors and partners want to support the publication. They recognise the authenticity of the list and value that it’s all based on nominations submitted. This is also true of our Play Creators Awards. And if you read through previous editions of the book – or previous lists of our award-winners – that’s very clear, I think.

The other thought that I had was to play Devil’s Advocate and throw up an objection… If multiple nominations count, doesn’t the whole thing just become a popularity contest? Doesn’t it mean that some tedious, self-serving motormouth become a shoe in?
Well, it still comes down to the quality of the nomination and someone’s achievements – it’s not a case of ‘most votes wins’. I also think that’s the beauty of having other people helping to whittle down the list… For the most part, ours is a very small, friendly industry. As a result of that, “tedious, self-serving motormouths” – as you rather ungenerously put it – do tend to stand out for the wrong reasons. And you can only puff up so many nominations before you start to look like you’re puffing them up… They either did something noteworthy this year or they didn’t.

Well, it sticks in my craw to say this to you Bill, but that’s a good answer! In regard to ‘the whittlers’ you mentioned, is it worth clarifying who these people are?
It’s a broad range of industry figures – inventors, design agencies, IR execs, in-house designers and other experts. And they only get involve in categories they themselves aren’t represented in. We give them the nomination but remove details of who sent it. Also, if a nomination strongly hints at where it’s come from, we’ll give it a slight rewrite to keep things anonymous.

Billy langsworthy, Deej Johnson, Mojo Nation 100

Where necessary, we ask them to put aside any prior relationships and judge things purely based on the nominations we receive. We also keep the identities of this panel under wraps! It’s important they’re free to help us assess the list without concerns over being questioned about their decisions, or feeling any risk to their pre-existing relationships in the industry. Not that we ever get too many angry letters!

Well, no; no one knows who to send them to! “Dear Shadowy, anonymous, industry figures… Re: Nominations…”
…where do you get off excluding ME?

Ha! Alright… Unless you think I missed something, I think that’s it. Although maybe I should add that sales figures don’t form part of the equation either, right?
No – that’s a good point. That’s of no interest to the panel… We want the focus to be on creativity and service and excellence! We don’t want the Mojo 100 becoming a list only of people that got deals with companies with great marketing, great sales, or great distribution. Same with the awards! I always thought a good example of that was the time PlayPress Toys won Toy Designer of the Year: Licensed Product…

Oh, yes! With the Royal National Lifeboat Institute? The cardboard boat?
Right – there they are, a tiny little company at the time. That was their first license I think; the RNLI – which is a small, British charity. And they’re toe to toe with absolute giants: SpongeBob SquarePants, Thomas & Friends, Paw Patrol…

Peppa Pig. LEGO – with Stranger Things, I think
Yes… if turnover was a factor, those chaps couldn’t have won an award. So yes – I just wanted to clarify that. And maybe we should do that next! Maybe we should sit down and explain how the awards are judged as well, because I know there’s potential for confusion there, too.

Yes! Let’s do that. Alright, thanks, Bill.

To stay in the loop with the latest news, interviews and features from the world of toy and game design, sign up to our weekly newsletter here

Stay up to date with the latest news, interviews and opinions with our weekly newsletter
Back to top arro

Sign Up

Enter your details to receive Mojo updates & news.