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VOL. 125 | NO. 41 | Tuesday, March 2, 2010

ADDY Awards Grapple With Bad Economy

JOE BOONE | Special to The Daily News

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Emcee Jerry “The King” Lawler, right, wrestles a foe to get a bejeweled USB key that contains the name of the Best of Show winner for the Addy Awards on Saturday at Minglewood Hall. Photos: Lance Murphey

A fight between the emcee and a performer interrupted the 2009-2010 Addy Awards ceremony Saturday night, and the fight itself was then interrupted when a man drove a motorcycle through the crowd of Memphis’ creative elite.

Staff from Oden cheer on their numerous victories during Saturday night’s Addy Awards at Minglewood Hall. The agency won a number of awards for a campaign they did for International Paper.

All in good fun, the Memphis wrestling themed event – developed by Archer>Malmo and emceed by famous grappler Jerry Lawler – showcased the local advertising and media industries’ best creative work.

The American Advertising Federation Memphis hosts the event and awards prizes to creative work across many media. Lawler put on a raucous performance of technological incompetence and masterful showmanship.

But the real star was Memphis’ advertising talent.

Matthew Ladner, left, and J.D. Graffam of click-boom come to the stage after earning the Best of Show award for their Web site, The War Untold.

“There were so many winners,” said Stinson Liles, a principal at Red Deluxe. “It’s a testament to how many great agencies there are in Memphis.”

Red Deluxe won eight gold and eight silver Addys in addition to the Best of Radio award.

Many agencies won multiple Gold Addys, including Combustion, Oden, Red Deluxe, Archer>Malmo, inferno and CS2. In-house work was also well-represented by The Greater Memphis Chamber and Briarcrest Christian School.

“It was good to see so many creatives honored for their amazing work,” said Christopher Reyes of Live from Memphis, which took two gold and five silver plus the Mosaic Award for Diversity. “There is absolutely no reason that any company needing creative work should hire outside of Memphis.”

Harvest Creative won the numbers tally with 11 of 63 gold and 11 of 73 silver Addys. The show included 561 entries. That number is less than last year’s, possibly reflecting a drop in business completed by local firms.

While the mood was great at Minglewood Hall, some hard facts are facing the industry. The number of jobs in the sector fell over the past decade, with a harrowing drop since 2008.

Since then, more than 200,000 advertising industry jobs have been lost, which equates to 15 percent or about 1.4 million, according to Advertising Age.

Two Memphis agencies have closed recently, Conaway-Brown and Chandler-Ehrlich. Many media companies are pushing employees out, moving to freelance and contract work to reduce overhead in difficult times.

As the competitive environment has intensified, demonstrating excellence is more important than ever.

“It is important for our clients to see that we are recognized by our peers,” said Casey Lissau, art director at CS2 Advertising. “This is one of the few contests we enter. We do it because it’s good to pull back and recognize the creative concept.”

CS2 earned seven gold and seven silver.

Here are the “best of” awards:

  • Best of Show went to Click-Boom for “The War Untold," a Web site (www.waruntold.com) collection of stories and images from World War I.
  • Best of Copywriting: Archer>Malmo for Independent Bank
  • Best of Print: Oden for Fedex
  • Best of Electronic: Greater Memphis Chamber for “A Tangible Birthplace.”
  • Best of Radio: Red Deluxe for The Memphis Grizzlies
  • Best of Web: inferno for Sun Studio
  • Best Outdoor: Combustion for Elvis Presley Enterprises
  • Best Photography: Oden for International Paper
  • Outstanding Art Direction: Harvest Creative
  • Mosaic Award for Diversity: Live From Memphis
  • Judges Special Award: Oden, Greater Memphis Chamber

Each year a local firm is chosen to put on the event. Archer>Malmo developed this year’s theme, “Judgement Day," which delved deep into the Memphis psyche and billed itself as a Mid-South-Coliseum-Era wrestling smackdown.

The campaign featured vintage poster-style design and faded photos from Lawler’s hirsute period. Winners won Mexican-style wrestling masks. Attendance, at 300, was up over last year, something event chairwoman Pam Branham of Running Pony Productions attributes to Archer>Malmo.

“Their creative team, especially James Ward, Richard Williams and Amanda Casabella, made this whole ADDY Awards process fun and interesting," said Branham. “Their ideas and execution were  truly extraordinary. I heard people leaving saying it was the best ADDYs they had attended.”

Added Ward, “Wrestlers are crazy.”

PROPERTY SALES 67 67 19,513
MORTGAGES 68 68 22,501
BUILDING PERMITS 201 201 40,205
BANKRUPTCIES 62 62 12,548