Eisner firm's radio ads win top award Local ad association bestows highest ADDY on city ad agency

It also wins 11 other awards

Prize-winning spots used deadpan humor to sell mall in Virginia

March 10, 1997|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A radio advertising campaign that enticed hundreds of holiday shoppers to a mall in Fairfax, Va., last year captured top honors in the 1997 Best in Baltimore ADDY Awards Friday night.

The ads, created by Baltimore-based Eisner & Associates Inc., used deadpan humor to lure shoppers to special events at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax.

In an ad broadcast before Halloween, a deep voice intoned, "Boo. Cackle, cackle, cackle. Whoooo. Scared you, didn't I?" Then a month later, he returned to the airwaves. Same deadpan voice, but this time with holiday spirit. "Ho, Ho, Ho. Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Hey."

The voice of the mall urged shoppers to bring "your little monsters" for Halloween, then to come holiday shopping and get cars valet parked, coats checked, gifts wrapped and packages shipped. And they did, by the hundreds.

The ad also endeared itself to big-city advertising creative directors, and a panel of judges in New York named it best in show for the Baltimore contest.

The Advertising Association of Baltimore's annual awards at the Baltimore Convention Center also honored the single best in each of 43 categories, from a total 800 entries in 1996.

The ADDY awards program involves 60,000 contest entries from 220 markets. Local winners advance to a regional show in New York, and then the regional winners will compete nationally in June.

Judges tend to favor the unique over the splashy, said Barry Truax, president of the association.

"They're looking for a clarity of message that has the potential of breaking through the clutter," said Truax, a senior vice president at Gray Kirk VanSant. "You might suspect that a big multimedia campaign would have a better chance of winning, but historically that has not happened." Eisner's mall campaign attempted to distinguish Fair Oaks from its competition, Tysons Corner, by creating a family-oriented image.

"Obviously it's nice to have an entertaining [radio] spot," said Judi Lewis, marketing director for Fair Oaks. But the ad also helped draw 8,000 trick-or-treaters, 4,200 shoppers whose packages were shipped and another 3,500 whose purchases were wrapped, Lewis said.

Radio ads can be tricky, especially if a client wants to load into 60 seconds all he couldn't get into a print or television ad, said Bill Mitchell, Eisner's creative director.

The mall campaign, written by creative group head Kim Gallagher, worked because it brought the words to life, "so you're really living in the minds of that listener," said agency President Steve Eisner.

Eisner captured the most awards, winning 12. W. B. Doner & Co. won 11, and Gray Kirk and the Campbell Group each won five. Cornerstone, a small agency that last year captured best in show for a Goodwill Industries of Baltimore ad, won four awards.

A special award for creative excellence went to Gray Kirk VanSant for a pro-bono television spot for Partnership for a Drug Free America. The nationally aired commercial, narrated by Homicide actor Andre Braugher, compares drug dealers to roaches, asking inner city residents to turn lights on and "get the bugs off your block."

Several ADDY television winners used humor to make their point.

For instance, an Eisner ad shows a doctor in an examining room performing a juggling act behind the back of a complaining patient -- as an example of what patients will not get from doctors at Helix Health. And in a W. B. Doner ad promoting the homemade taste of an Arby's sandwich, a customer's "Grandma" makes a surprise appearance behind the counter.

Baltimore agencies have traditionally fared well at ADDY nationals.

Recent national winners have included Gray Kirk for a Baltimore Opera TV commercial; W. B. Doner for Mid-Atlantic Milk Marketing Association radio commercials, and Trahan, Burden & Charles for a Maryland Lottery TV commercial, which just missed winning best-in-show nationally.

"We're just a very strong ad town in terms of the creative product," said Chic Davis, director of the Advertising Association. "We're smaller than Philadelphia in size. We're smaller than D.C. in size, but the ad creative product is much much stronger, with more agencies doing more good work than in a good many other markets."

About 600 people attended Friday's program at the newly expanded convention center.

Baltimore ADDY winners

Brochure: Siquis, Ltd., The Campbell Group

Product Presentation: Eisner & Associates

Annual Report: Shub, Dirksen, Yates & McAllister

Poster: Eisner & Associates, Underground Advertising

Special Events Material: Rosse & Associates

Direct, Consumer: The Campbell Group, Wedone Gadno Agency

Direct, Consumer Campaign: The Campbell Group

Direct, Business: W.B. Doner & Co.

Direct, Business Campaign: The Campbell Group Outdoor: Gray Kirk VanSant

Transit: Cornerstone

Business/Trade: The Campbell Group

Business/Trade, Color: Gray Kirk VanSant

Business/Trade Campaign: Gray Kirk VanSant

Consumer Magazine: W. B. Doner & Co.

Consumer Magazine, Color: Cornerstone, W.B. Doner & Co.

Consumer Magazine Campaign: W.B. Doner & Co.

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