Advance Look At 2005 ADDYs

February 25, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Looking ahead to this Thursday’s 2005 ADDY awards presentations at DeVos Place, the Business Journal polled n advertising and marketing professionals about what they thought were the most and least effective campaigns of 2004.

Far and away the most popular was Jager Group’s campaign for the renovated Kalamazoo Air Zoo.

At last year’s ADDYs, Jager’s Designer/Art Director Rob Jackson and Creative Director Tom Crimp earned Best of Show in the print category for the direct marketing segment of the Air Zoo campaign. The rest of the campaign may do just as well Thursday.

“This year and last year, the best thing I’ve seen in the area has been the Air Zoo re-launch,” said Quixtar’s John Koziatek, chair of ADDY entry and judgment committees.

“They put together a complete identify package, a new logo, a new look, and went right on through to an advertising campaign that has been extremely consistent. The continuity, tone, attitude, look and feel were right on target.”

Jager launched a new brand, transforming a renovated and enlarged regional museum with 50,000 visitors annually into a national attraction that could draw 300,000 visitors a year.

“The new facility changed the essence of the attraction from a flight museum to a family-based aviation theme attraction,” said Lee Jager, principal. “They wanted to appeal to families and children. Our role was to re-brand them, change the perception of those that knew about the Air Zoo while broadcasting its presence to those who didn’t.”

In doing this, Jager’s firm used what he called “guerrilla tactics,” building a buzz through various promotional efforts. Central to that was the paratrooper theme.

Seen along U.S. 131 in Grand Rapids was a paratrooper dangling by his chute from various buildings, cranes and Air Zoo outdoor advertisements.

A variation in downtown Kalamazoo during the weeks after the May grand opening featured an actor dressed as a paratrooper, holding an Air Zoo sign and dragging his chute behind him.

Another example included newspaper boxes with ripcord-related advertisements.

“They’re not sticking with traditional advertising media,” Koziatek said.

Another Jager campaign impressed Highland Group’s Elizabeth Ratliff, Ad Club president.

With help from Crimp, copywriter Joy Sarnacke and interactive designer Cliff Wegner, Jackson created an outdoor campaign for The Outdoor Advertising Association of America to be displayed on billboards, bus shelters, phone kiosks, elevator and restroom walls and even garbage receptacles during last fall’s Advertising Week in New York

Scrawled in bold red letters on a solid background, the ads used the names of advertising industry notables like Alex Bogusky, Rick Boyko and Lee Clow, with each name followed with “… was here.”

After the Air Zoo ad campaign, Meijer radio and TV commercials “Spinach” and “Boyfriend” proved to be some of the most effective creative pieces in 2004. Created by New York agency DeVito/Verdi, the Meijer spots have already won Gold ADDYs and Best of Show in New York, Clio Awards, and two Cannes Lions.

Three new Meijer ads by DeVito launched over the holidays: “Phone Call,” “Shopping Cart” and “Tree Trimming.”

“I love the Meijer spots — the little girl eating the spinach and the cyclical reinforcement between the radio and TV,” admitted Pam Patton, president of Paragraph Writing.

“What I don’t like is that it wasn’t done in this market,” she said. “Which is a shame, because the talent is in the market here.”

She was echoing remarks that Bill McKendry, CEO and founder of Hanon McKendry, made to the Business Journal about the tendency for local brands to outsource their national campaign work to other markets.

“I’m with Bill,” said Scott Mullen, Cull Group creative director. “The creative these guys are looking for is in their own backyard. The talent is here.”

The Cull Group has managed to attract a number of national brands, including Old Orchard, Zondervan and some Meijer projects.

Buzz Baker, Alexander Marketing Services’ senior consultant, pointed out that West Michigan bested Chicago in both the Sixth District and the National ADDYs last year.

“What I’ve always believed quite firmly is that creativity has no city limits,” Baker said. “Someone from an agency in West Michigan is just as capable as someone who has to deal with all kinds of concrete and commuting and garbage on the street in New York City

“Quite frankly, when I look at some of the work that comes out of this market, I think we have better taste than many of the meccas of advertising.”

Six local firms brought home national ADDYs in 2004.

Jager Group won its second in as many years with “It’s a boy,” a print ad for Zondervan designed by Jackson and Sarnacke that appeared in The Grand Rapids Press Christmas morning.

The packaging design for Whitehall Product’s Walden Gardens Ergo Tools by Cull Group’s Mullen and illustrator Allisa Hutchinson won a Silver ADDY for single-unit packaging.

Other winners were Insightful Imagery’s 2003 William Hebert Calendar, Good Work’s for John Ferin Stationery, INvironments’ trade show exhibit for Herman Miller for the Home, and The Etheridge Company’s brand partner kit for KitchenAid Proline Series.

None received best of show in the local competition last year.

“It’s all subjective,” Koziatek said. “There are some certain things that judges look for, like breakthrough, stopping power, relevance, need-driven proposition. There needs to be a call to action, a concept behind it.

“Then it’s all on a basis that the only thing that can make it stand out is creativity.”

Koziatek compared last year’s Air Zoo Best of Show entry to that of the eventual national award winner, John Ferin Stationery. Both received a local Gold ADDY.

“The Ferin piece was elegant and to the point, so simple that I wish I had that idea,” he said. “Side by side, it’s like comparing a Mercedes to an Audi: Some people will prefer one to the other.”

Other favorites this year were the print and outdoor Girl Scouts Michigan Trails “Rocker Girl” advertisements, and Hanon McKendry’s Mel Trotter Ministries outdoor campaign.

Receiving mixed reviews was Justice & Monroe’s campaign for the Grand Rapids Rampage. The brand of the former Arena Football League champions had reached a new low last summer following a 1-15 finish, coaching uncertainties and rumors of a franchise sale.

“We started on a down note,” said Justice & Monroe Creative Director John Ferin (no relation to John Ferin Stationery). “Win one game — not a good situation to be in.”

The season-ticketholder mailing became the centerpiece of the campaign, working its way into Sports Illustrated and newspapers from Boston to Los Angeles

Along with ticket renewal letters, a roll of toilet paper was sent to season ticketholders wrapped in a message that said, “It’s time to put last season behind us.”

While the piece could bring home an ADDY this week, some think that the overall campaign may be misdirecting the brand.

“All of the creative work is great,” said McKendry. “And while it’s very nice, it treads on dangerous terrain. The messages are all about winning. The brand should stand for more than just winning. I think that’s a pretty big misfire.”

McKendry said the same thing of another Justice & Monroe client, the Grand Rapids Griffins. Rather than focus on family fun and entertainment value, both target the sports fan and aim at developing a fan base.

McKendry’s pick for most effective campaign went to Zondervan for the public relations efforts surrounding its Today’s New International Version Bible “Rolling Stone” ad.

Rogers Department Store’s print and outdoor advertisements were the least liked.

The single largest complaint — after cluttered outdoor advertisements — were ads with no distinguishing qualities.

“A lot of companies are offering me-too attributes, especially print,” said Ferin.    

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