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Organizers Are Setting the Stage for the Second Annual ADDYs Competition
Alta Stark and Kate Campiti

Alta Stark, left, and Kate Campiti say they hope to welcome the business community at large to this year’s ADDYs celebration.

It will be a few more months before we know who’s taking home the gold, silver, and bronze, but creative firms across the region are ready to show their mettle.

The Advertising Club of Western Mass. (or Ad Club) is currently gearing up to stage its second annual regional ADDY Awards, a national competition for the advertising and marketing industry, on March 20.

The awards, which honor the best in advertising, marketing, and multimedia design at three levels — regional, district, and national — across the country, made their Western Mass. debut last year, replacing the Creative Merit Awards previously awarded on a local basis only by the Ad Club. The ADDYs are the largest competition within the advertising industry, attracting more than 50,000 entries each year, and their local presence stems from a new partnership with the American Advertising Federation, forged by the Ad Club last year.

The 2007 awards were a milestone for the region, awarding more than 50 trophies to dozens of area ad agencies and marketing firms in categories such as direct marketing, interactive media, radio and television spots, and mixed-media campaigns. The 2007 ADDYs also sent several local gold- and silver-award winners on to the next level of competition, in hopes of garnering a national-level honor.

Alta Stark, president of the Ad Club, said part of the draw of the ADDYs is that potential for national exposure, as well as the opportunity to be judged by a panel of professionals not living or working in the region.

“I think that offering a competition that affords the chance to advance to the next level, and to perhaps be judged on a national scale, has had a huge impact,” said Stark. “Really, at that point you’re looking at the best and brightest of the entire country, and getting to that point is a very real possibility for the enormously talented people working in this area.”

Last year’s success has only fueled more interest in the event, and as planning moves forward, Stark added that many aspects of the 2007 awards will remain the same, while other things will be altered to make the Western Mass. ADDYs even more memorable than their inaugural celebration.

“We are going to change some little things; for instance, there was a concern last year about the need to better label the entries, and that’s important because there are so many diverse entries that are awesome to look at,” she said. “But overall, last year’s event was very well-received, and we’re not planning any sweeping changes.”

The first thing that will be staying the same, said Stark, is the venue — CityStage in downtown Springfield. She said the theater provides an ambiance that gives the ADDYs a professional feel that is not stuffy or staid.

“It offers the perfect place to showcase the work, and a good stage on which we can offer entertainment,” she said, noting that, not unlike the Emmys or Oscars, there will be a performance aspect of the event as well, which is still being determined.

Last year, for example, dancers from the Tyie Thomas Center for the Performing Arts in Springfield performed a routine set to music from the hit soundtrack to Dreamgirls.

In fact, the biggest change Stark said she’d like to see is a greater response from the business community at large.

“I want to invite the entire creative community to join us,” said Stark. “We’re moving along and bringing people together, and there’s a great energy right now.”

Kate Campiti, an Ad Club board member and this year’s ADDY chairman, said that while last year’s ceremony provided a strong base from which to build the annual event, there are some broad aspects of the competition she’d like to see augmented incrementally over the years, the first being the celebration of the region’s top-notch work.

“In the future, we’d like to see our Best in Show winner have the opportunity to showcase their designs the following year, by creating some of the collateral print pieces to promote the ADDYs,” said Campiti.

She agreed with Stark that the venue was a hit last year. “The venue was definitely well-received, and it played into the whole feel of what the ADDYs represent,” she said, adding that she, too, hopes that the business community, not just people in marketing and advertising fields, will turn out in March to support the event.

“The ADDYs are one way that the Ad Club can introduce the marketing industry to other sectors,” said Campiti. “It’s also a larger event than many people first think. The ADDYs welcome entries from not just advertising agencies, but also students, individuals, consultants, and in-house marketing and graphic designers, as well.

“All entries are showcased at the event, not just the winners, so everyone who comes can see what a given business is doing to promote themselves,” she continued. “The creative people who’ve done the work should definitely come, but also the businesses for whom they’ve done the work.”

Campiti added that the effort to boost participation will include revamping the Ad Club’s sponsorship packages for the ADDYs to prompt more businesses to take part and add a little more bang for their buck, too. Last year, the ADDYs were sponsored by one ‘gold’ sponsor — Baystate Medical Center — and four ‘silver’ sponsors: St. Germain Investment Management, Hampden Bank, Zasco Productions, LLC, and Health New England. This year, Campiti said she’ll happily welcome more.

“From what I understand, our sponsors loved it last year, and I want to give them more if we can — I want to highlight them a little more, and add value to the sponsorship.”

All of these efforts, Campiti concluded, are aimed at building stronger relationships between the creatives of the area and the businesses they serve.

“There should be a synergy,” she said, “and that’s what we hope to create, as well as a celebration of our region’s best work.”

Jaclyn Stevenson can be reached at[email protected]