25 February 2007

From Today's "The Commercial Appeal"

Merged agency gets top ad prize

Fair campaign wins ADDY Best of Show; entries rise this year
By Jane Roberts

February 25, 2007
Forget the red carpet. The creative types in Memphis advertising agencies walked on air Saturday night, pumping the night with victory.

Inferno, tucked in a funky nook on Tennessee Downtown, took 18 gold ADDY awards in the Memphis Advertising Federation's annual gala -- more than any other agency -- but Best of Show went to the newly merged Carpenter Sullivan Sossaman for its clever Mid-South Fair campaign, including a billboard-size kamikaze pilot.

"Entries were up 8 percent to 943 this year," said Maury Tower, contest chairwoman. "I think it's a sign that the economy is improving."

After 9/11, entries dropped off precipitously; evidence that companies were cutting back on advertising and that the agencies themselves were investing the $45 entry fees elsewhere.

"And this year, the awards were more evenly divided between the agencies. No one swept them like they have in the past."

That may be an indication that agencies are stepping up in general, and using technology more to captivating affect.

Sossaman and Red Deluxe Brand Development perhaps get as much credit for raising the bar as any. Sossaman received a national ADDY in 2006. Red Deluxe, which took 13 gold ADDY's this year, catapulted itself to stardom with a national win in 2005.

This year, it also won the judges' Best of Print award for its newspaper campaign for The Lofts and special recognition for the radio campaign it created for The Commercial Appeal.

Tactical Magic earned 12 gold ADDYs and special award for art direction. Inferno received the Judges Special Award for promotion work.

Winners were selected by an out-of-town panel of judges representing small and large markets. They advance to the district competition in March.

"There are always surprises in who wins and what type of work different agencies are doing," said Dan O'Brien, principal at inferno. "Things surface at the ADDYs that you just really didn't know existed."

Surprisingly, much of the work in an ad agency is invisible to the general public, often because campaigns are designed for business-to-business use or because the technology that springs them loose is unseen.

But advertising people see where the genius lies, part of the fun of the ADDYs, O'Brien said.

"With each agency, the work has a look or feel. While it's not formulaic, you can see where the inspiration is coming from."

That insight is extremely helpful, he said, because an agency's trump is always the depth of its creative pool.

The other reward of winning, of course, is the limelight it sheds on the an agency's creative team and the potential that builds for new business.

"Just because a company wins the most ADDYs may not mean a huge influx of business, but it does mean they are going to get recognition, and that's what you need when you're calling on customers," said Mickey Woodham at Thompson & Co.

Thompson won six gold ADDYs, including two for its Memphis Humane Society campaigns.

Conversely, companies that rack up multiple wins also tip their competitors to the depth of their talent.

"It certainly puts the stars on your radar," said O'Brien, who admits agencies are always hoping to hire talent away.

"On the flip side, you're also putting your superstars out there for everyone to see. Frankly, I'd like to keep those folks on my side."

--Jane Roberts: 529-2512

Ad agencies take gold

archer=malmo, 6 awards

Carpenter Sullivan Sossaman, 13 awards

Combustion, 4 awards

Disciple Design, 3 awards

Hemline Creative Marketing, 1 award

idex, 1 award

inferno, 16 awards

LeBonheur Children's Medical Center, 9 awards

Nokturnal Studio, 2 awards

Oden, 4 awards

Phillip Parker Photography, 1 award

Red Deluxe Brand Development, 13 awards

Tactical Magic, 12 awards

Thompson & Co., 6 awards

WA Films/Arra Creative, 2 awards

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