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More bravos than boos this year

By Penny Parker
Denver Post Business Writer

Jan. 10 - It's time for the annual boos and bravos where we get to award roses and raspberries to notable advertising and public relations campaigns of the year.

Overall, there were more roses to be handed out for last year's work. Readers mostly refrained from overzealous criticism of competitors.

The campaign that received the most votes from readers by far was the "Save the Mesas'' grassroots public relations effort aimed at thwarting Nike's notion that it might build a 5,000-employee complex on top of South Table Mountain in Golden.

Phase II of the campaign supported the successful "Save Open Space'' bond issue, organized by Plan Jeffco, a citizen's group. The $160 million revenue bond issue - to raise money to acquire open space land throughout Jefferson County - passed with a whopping 70 percent of the vote.

Jefferson County Open Space has made an offer to the landowners of North and South Table Mountains and is awaiting a response.

Other local ad campaigns that elicited bravos from readers were:

  • Channel 9's post-Super Bowl spots featuring John Elway and his tireless quest for football's Holy Grail.

  • The Denver Mattress Co. for its series of television ads including the one where two buddies are moving a mattress and reminiscing about old times connected with the mattress. One buddy's girlfriend/wife overhears the conversation and trouble starts.

  • Chipotle Mexican Grill for its busboard and billboard campaign touting big burritos. Dan Fogarty of Fogarty Communications, the campaign's creator, recently joined the Chipotle organization in the newly created position as marketing vice president.

    On the national level, readers found quite a few candidates for bravo awards.

    Among them:

  • AT&T's Rocket Man, meeting and date E-mail.

  • Excite.com's "If they can do it . . .''

  • Southwest Airlines for the referee who needs change for a dollar.

  • Norelco for its hockey-team razor spot.

  • The Gap's swing commercial for khaki pants.

  • Special K's male vanity.

  • The reintroduction of the Volkswagen Beetle.

  • Pop Tarts' strawberry abduction.

  • Lee Jeans "Buddy Lee.''

    For national PR campaigns worthy of bravos, Barnhart/CMI nominated:

  • President Clinton, who despite his impeachment woes earned high approval ratings among the American people.

  • The Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa home run contest.

    My turn.

    Without question, my top pick is Karsh & Hagan's television campaign for The Colorado Lottery using Lee Majors reprising his role as the "Six Million Dollar Man.''

    Not only was it a coup for K&H to land Majors for a fraction of his regular fee, but the humor in the ads sells Lotto tickets in a fresh and creative way.

    My favorite of the series - and the spot that was picked up in the ABC special "The Best Commercials You've Never Seen'' - is "Tea.'' Majors visits Mary Cunningham, a real-life winner of $1.8 million from the Colorado Lottery. Majors notes that although Cunningham may now have the means to buy a new home and a new car, she can't buy her own sound effects like Majors has from his bionic-man days.

    He demonstrates the sound effects while lifting the tea cup to his lips.

    The ABC show featuring this spot is scheduled to air Feb. 6.

    Here are my other picks from the 1998 pool:

  • McClain Finlon for overtaking Karsh & Hagan in annual billings. Cathey Finlon, one of Denver's classiest members of the ad community, has had to nearly double the size of her staff to keep up with all the new business. Finlon's accomplishments for the year include landing the Johns Manville building-insulation division, Red Robin restaurants, Public Service and - ahem - The Denver Post.

  • The Graham Group, a Colorado Springs agency, for the Chevy S10 commercial for the Rocky Mountain Chevy Dealers. Graham used Tyler Sonnenfeld, the 20-something marketing/special events director for Bandimere Speedway, as the real-life spokesman for the S-10. Sonnenfeld was given a truck and a video camera and let loose to shoot the commercial.

  • Kyla Thompson, Art Mahoney, Christa Reich and Jackie Brown who announced their departures from the business after years of hard work on behalf of the Denver advertising and PR communities.

  • Hagan Communications for putting The Barrelman as pitchman in the print and radio campaigns for the Tier 2 arts organizations.
  • Sander/GBSM for "Down to Nothing'' sale direct mail and print pieces, and TV spots for Andrisen Morton's "Down to Nothing'' sale.

  • Morey Mahoney for snagging Bronco Shannon Sharpe to sell Good Times' onion rings.

  • Morey Mahoney again for its "Nicely Toasted'' Quizno's campaign featuring a burned out, tie-dye T-shirt clad dude touting Quizno's sandwiches.

  • Barnhart/CMI, The Event Group, Gloria Campbell and the City of Denver for the rockin' Super Bowl parade - the largest event to date in Denver. The Bronco lovefest brought an estimated 650,000 people together to celebrate the World Championship win.

    Automobile dealers received the most boos, for content and repetition. Dealin' Doug was dealt a boo from Sander/GBSM. And the Rocky's Auto ads received thumbs downs from Sander/GBSM and Barnhart/CMI.

    National spots that were dinged by readers were Miller Lite's "Dick'' campaign, all of the 10-10 calling prefix ads, "Yo quiero Taco Bell,'' Bud Lite's "Refrigerator Security,'' and Levi's "Stupid Youth.''

    My boos go to:

  • J. Walter Thompson's saturation of the airwaves with "If I had a Ford Truck, tell you what I'd do . . . '' for the Rocky Mountain Ford Dealers. Enough already!

  • Fogarty Communications for the spelling in the ad, "Why barbeque when you can barbacoa?'' for Chipotle Mexican Grill. Barbecue is the preferred spelling and works better with barbacoa to boot.

    Awards: JohnstonWells Public Relations received a remarkable report card from "Inside PR'' magazine. JohnstonWells earned good grades in the "hot creative agencies,'' "regional powerhouses,'' "best training programs,'' and "best workplace cultures'' categories.

    People: The Integer Group has hired John Duban as a regional account director on the Coors account to lead all field activities in the South Central region.

    McClain Finlon Advertising has hired four account supervisors: Megan Churbuck, Tracey Miller, Mary Wargo and Dean Digiulio.

    Arnold & Co. Advertising/Public Relations and The Fort Restaurant have named Patrick J. Canty business manager.

    Calendar: The Public Relations Society of America - Colorado Chapter presents "Media Strategies That Work,'' a half-day workshop from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Jan. 21 in the Petroleum Club. Registration deadline is Jan. 15. For information, call 303-758-9611. Penny Parker writes about public relations, marketing and advertising for The Denver Post. Her column appears Sundays.

    Penny Parker writes about retailing, marketing and advertising for The Denver Post. Her column appears Sundays.

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