Pittsburghers might be forgiven for starting to wonder if the public advertising battle between health care giants UPMC and Highmark shoved everything else off the table for southwestern Pennsylvania marketers in recent months.
It turns out the region's creative types got to play with work involving giant rubber ducks and Care packages and even a game pitting Ikea product names against metal death bands, as proven by the work honored Friday night at the Carnegie Science Center in the annual Pittsburgh American Advertising Awards, known as the Addys.
The judges were impressed enough with projects submitted to the contest organized by the Pittsburgh Advertising Federation that they handed out not just one, but two Judges Awards of Excellence, in addition to the coveted Best of Show. There were 415 entries, about even with last year's contest, and the judges chose to award 86 total Addys, 39 of them gold and 47 silvers.
Best of Show honors went to Brunner, a Downtown agency with an office in Atlanta, for a sales promotion piece done for longtime client Cub Cadet, which makes power equipment like the snow thrower featured in the work honored. Perhaps, in this never-ending winter, the judges appreciated the copy in the piece, "Humans aren't meant to hibernate."
Brunner also picked up a Judges Award of Excellence for its integrated campaign for Atlanta-based humanitarian agency Care, which included oversized "care packages" set up on sidewalks in Atlanta to raise awareness that the nonprofit still works to fight global poverty. Brunner won 15 awards just for its Care work, bulking up its total of 20 golds and five silvers and the two special awards. Its BHive Lab also picked up a silver.
The second Judges Award of Excellence went to Downtown shop Animal, which produced an almost nine-minute video called "Seven Days" about the passage of the Fair Housing Act in the days following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. The film was created for client Nationwide Insurance. To see the video, go to www.animalvfx.com/work/seven-days/. Animal also won two golds.
Other strong work included South Side-based Tom Cwenar Photography's images of boxer Paul "The Pittsburgh Kid" Spadafora, which picked up five golds and one silver. Wall-to-Wall Studios on the North Side collected six golds and four silvers with a mix that included work for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust on the giant rubber duck that it brought to town last year as well as a project for the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh.
Garrison Hughes, also Downtown, collected two golds and 13 silvers, with work for the Senator John Heinz History Center and the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium among others. Marc USA, based in Station Square, gathered up one gold and 13 silvers with projects for clients such as the Andy Warhol Museum and the Roberto Clemente Museum.
The work being honored doesn't necessarily reflect a lot of the business-to-business projects that Pittsburgh's marketing community handles very effectively, noted Rob Deaner, president of the Pittsburgh Ad Fed and a partner at Downtown music and sound studio Market Street Sound. That may be because agencies think judges will be drawn more to the style of work done for smaller clients or pro bono efforts that offer more creative freedom, he said.
"Are you seeing in our shows a great representation of all the work done here? No," Mr. Deaner admitted. But, he added, "You're seeing a good representation."
The "Ikea or death" digital game created by Gatesman + Dave to test players' ability to identify products at the Swedish furniture store versus names of death metal bands was a fun project cooked up by some of the South Side agency's staff. That collected one gold and one silver.
Other winners included Chemistry with one gold for a Bike Pittsburgh illustration and two silvers; Phenomenon with one gold for Pirates intros; and Smith Brothers Agency's four silvers for a project for Cranberry safety products maker MSA. Mullen, PMI and Eat'n Park Hospitality Group each had a silver.
Judges this year came from Dallas, New York, Richmond, Philadelphia and Minneapolis-St. Paul. The contest is part of a three-stage competition sponsored by the American Advertising Federation.
Teresa F. Lindeman: email@example.com or at 412-263-2018.