As reported on warc.com this morning, Leo Burnett has won the top prize at the 2010 North American Effies for an inspirational campaign aimed at boosting enrolment in Detroit public schools: subscribers can read the full case study on warc.com here.
Reflecting the fact that many US consumers are reeling from the impact of the credit crunch and recession, there was a definite trend among the gold Effie-winning campaigns for presenting financial restraint in a positive way, or for highlighting ways to survive the adverse economic conditions. The 2010 Grand Effie is a prime example of this trend; after all, Detroit was one of the cities hit hardest by the downturn.
HSBC, a global bank, won gold in the Financial Services - Products/Services category for 'Math of Life', a campaign developed by JWT. Transitioning away from the "sub prime" services that have caused so much trouble for banks recently, the campaign promoted PLUS BANKING, an HSBC account offering competitive interest rates but requiring a $15,000 minimum balance.
So account holders are effectively rewarded for saving rather than borrowing, a good fit with the general societal trend away from profligacy. JWT promoted the account via the creative idea of "personal forumulas", down-to-earth equations helping people to calculate how to improve their financial health: (+) cooking (-) eating out, (+) budgeting (-) splurging and so on.
In other words, people were encouraged to take time out to work out - mathematically - how to rebalance their lives, after years of spending more than they earned.
On the other side of the ledger, borrowers worried about securing finance in the credit crunch were targeted by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in a campaign for Hyundai, winning gold in the Automotive, Vehicles category. The creative was informed by a promise from the carmaker to indemnify and protect the credit of new customers; this played well among consumers unsure about their financial prospects in the recession. The message was driven home by this TV spot which ran during the 2009 Superbowl, voiced by Jeff Bridges.
Elsewhere, BBDO's 'Many, Many Reasons' campaign for Campbell's - winner of a gold Effie in the Boomer+ category - fought back against the perception that the iconic tinned soups are low-quality and highly-processed, by highlighting both the provenance of their ingredients, as well as the heritage of the brand itself.
After all, downsizing customers looking to cut back their spending offer significant opportunities for budget FMCG brands; buying tinned soup often works out as cheaper than going for the fresh alternative.
Innovative ways of promoting industries battered by the recession were also recognised by the Effie judges. Traditional media - in this case, venerable current affairs magazine The Atlantic, one of the few remaining bastions of long-form journalism left in the US - was boosted by EURO RSCG for this campaign, gold winner in the media companies category.
Responding to a consumer need for thinking deeply about societal issues, attention-grabbing question headlines from the magazine's archives - "Should women settle?", "Is Google making us stupid?" - were made into neon signs appearing around New York, which were then photographed and turned into print ads, posters and even an art exhibit.
Readership rose from 400,000 to 450,000 in three months; not bad for an (apparently) dying industry.
Aside from the North American prizes, Global Effie awards were also handed out at the New York ceremony last night.
In all, three prizes were awarded: the single gold went to IBM Corporation for 'Let's Build a Smarter Planet'.
All of the available Effies case studies - and campaign videos - can be viewed on warc.com here.
In other news, finalists for the EACA Euro Effies 2010 were announced today. All in all, 29 entries were selected for the second round of judging. Seven nations will be represented, with 10 German campaigns, six Dutch and four each from the UK and France making it through.
There are some familiar names on the list, including 'Singalong' for Deutsche Telekom, 'Melting' for Perrier and Evian's 'Rollerbabies'. Judges are to meet again on June 29th, with the prizes themselves to be handed out on September 15th.
The next few weeks will be pretty busy for ad awards, with the Cannes Lions, the EACA Care Awards, the Romanian and Belgian Effies and the Webby Awards in the US all to be held before the end of June. You can find a full list of dates for your diary on our Warc Awards Calendar.