Martin Agency Wins Top Caples, Most First Prizes

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NEW YORK -- The Martin Agency took home top honors last night for its Yellow Pages Publishers Association campaign at the 23rd John Caples International Awards Showcase.


Martin was one of nine U.S. and 14 international agencies to win first-place Caples Awards. In addition, there were 43 second- and third-place winners across 27 categories. Winners were honored at an awards ceremony at the Marriott Marquis.


A winner of seven Caples awards in years past, Martin won the Best in Show prize for its YPPA campaign featuring comedian Jon Lovitz. In all, the Richmond, VA, shop received four first-place Caples.


The YPPA campaign featured a life-size cardboard cutout of Lovitz. A bright yellow envelope was taped to the cutout's chest, and the cutout was placed on the hotel beds of attendees at a trade show in Las Vegas.


"We were trying to find something that could get people to come to the YPPA booth," said Cliff Sorah, creative director. "The response was overwhelming. It was one of those things that people talked about, and they wanted to keep the thing, which is cool."


The accompanying letter sold the value of the Yellow Pages as an advertising medium. And in a lead-generating effort, attendees were asked to use the enclosed envelope to drop off their business cards at the booth for a chance at a prize.


Besides Martin, other U.S. agencies that won first prizes were McCann Relationship Marketing, OgilvyOne, Mullen, Campbell-Ewald and Rubin Postaer Direct.


International first-place honors went to Leo Burnett Australia, Saatchi & Saatchi Australia, Scotland's Carlina DraftWorldwide, CP Communicacion Proximity in Spain, the Impiric office in London, Brann Worldwide U.K., Brazil's G&K Marketing Direto, Scotland's Oneagency, Australia's Euro RSCG Partnership, Germany's Knauer Rump Partner, Spain's MRM Cano & Martinez and WWAV Rapp Collins U.K.


In all, 1,143 awards were given this year. Honors went to creative directors, copywriters, art directors and production executives. Fifty-three percent of the winners were big agencies.


Separately, two honorary Caples were awarded. Bruce Lee, senior partner and North America creative director at OgilvyOne, received the Irving Wunderman award. Jim Kobs, president/CEO of Kobs Gregory Passavant, received the Andi Emerson Award.


Founded in 1978 by Emerson, the Caples Awards are named for John Caples, a copywriter who spent 56 years at BBDO. The Caples are judged on a point system, so if entries do not score enough points to get first place, then there is no first-place prize in that category. And if two or more entries have enough first-place points, then both get the top honors.


A voluntary effort, the judging is attracting overseas attention, said Holly Pavlika, who is in charge of naming judges.


"Every year we get more and more international judges," said Pavlika, president and executive creative director at Pavlika Chinnici Direct, New York. "We had someone come all the way from Singapore to judge this year, and last year there was this guy from Ireland basically saying he had the only direct marketing agency in all of Ireland."


Other highlights were the number of three-dimensional pieces and the growth in foreign entries. There was a 16 percent jump over last year in the number of international submissions, the largest in the history of the awards.


"Among the winners, we have more international winners than American winners, which is very astonishing," Emerson said. "It says they're doing very well creatively in Europe and the Pacific Rim."


Emerson, president of Emerson Marketing, New York, said she sees a trend that says a great deal about the state of direct marketing creative in the United States compared with other countries.


"I do think there is more freedom to innovate in other countries, which are just climbing onto the direct marketing bandwagon," she said. "In this country, I think it's become more codified, state-based, meaning copycat, meaning old hat, meaning by formula, meaning standardized."


Peter Eaton, who judged some of this year's finalists, said he was disappointed with the quality of the work he saw.


"I think the year before had better work. Who knows, maybe I judged the wrong bits," said Eaton, the principal of British American Design, New York. "I was staggered that someone would have worked with something to get to where it was. It's a lack of creativity and verve. And then you're unaware of whether the theme works."


Times have changed, Eaton said, and sharper direct marketing is required to retain consumer interest.


"Thirty years ago, you could send anything in an envelope with a message on the outside, and people would open it up because it was a new thing," he said. "These days to get someone to open that envelope is paramount. There's no point in anything in it if someone doesn't open it."


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