*Caples Awards: Dialogue Takes Top Award, But Ogilvy Gets the Most

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NEW YORK - It was Dialogue Marketing Communications' irritating but effective "Touchstone - Hello? Erm ... Yes" campaign for Ireland's national telephone service that snagged the best of show category at yesterday's Caples Awards. But the most laughs came during the description of a direct mail package containing what appeared to be a person's cremated remains, which garnered the award for most courageous client.

The 22nd International John Caples Awards - which were distributed here last night honoring creative excellence among artists, copywriters, creative and broadcast directors throughout the direct marketing industry - also shelled out a fistful of awards to OglivyOne, New York, in categories ranging from consumer television to print, business and outdoor.

But the evening's top honor, the Max Sackheim Award/Best of Show, went to Dialogue, Dublin, Ireland, for a campaign that wasn't afraid to tell it like it is. Des Columb, co-creative director at Dialogue, said the point of the campaign was to re-create the exact, but all-too-familiar experience of being bounced around on the phone from extension to extension.

"It's a fairly uninteresting subject," Columb said, "but we had to find a way to address a key question for our telephone client's business customers: 'How well do you use your phones?' We set about addressing that issue by creating a [purposefully] confusing brochure that kept directing the reader to different pages." The multi-purpose piece also contained a musical chip that played "the kind of cheesy music you often hear when you're on hold," he said.

Dialogue, Ireland's biggest direct marketing agency, created the campaign for an audience of only 500 of Ireland's business-to-business telephone customers.

The Courageous Client Award went to No Frills Funeral and Saatchi & Saatchi, The Rocks, Australia, for their first-place dimensional business campaign. According to Michael Newman, executive creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, "unless you work for the mob, it's not every day that you get what appears to be a cremated person's ashes sent to you as part of a campaign message."

Newman admitted that his agency "probably spent more time thinking about how to sell the idea than whether it was a good idea. We knew it was a great idea."

Other presentations at the ceremony included the Andi Emerson Award, to Pam Larrick, who was promoted last week to president and chief operating officer of McCann Relationship Marketing Worldwide, New York; and the Irving Wunderman Award, to Chris Jones, creative director of Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel, London.

Members in the audience also paused to honor Ben Guice, a copywriter with Clemenger Direct, Melbourne, Australia, who was hit by a car and killed just before Christmas, not knowing that he and his team partner had won two Caples Awards.

The Caples Awards are produced each year by volunteers in association with participating chairpeople from 30 countries.

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