marshall-haber-creative-group2016 MarCom Awards Spotlight: Marshall Haber Creative Group Inc.

2016 MarCom Awards Spotlight: Marshall Haber Creative Group Inc.

While the winners for the 2016 MarCom Awards won’t be announced for a little bit, we’re showcasing select entries that stand out. Keep checking back to see if your work will be highlighted.

MarCom Awards Organization: MHCG Inc.
Location: New York, NY
Client: Chai Lifeline
Title of Entry: “Chai Lifeline/Camp Simcha”
Category: 103. Logo

A good picture is worth a thousand words, but a logo does more with less. A logo is your identity to clients, patrons, and customers. Think Coca Cola or Apple. But a logo can be an elusive symbol with the wrong creative agency.

Marshall Haber Creative Group, a boutique agency in New York specializing in branding, advertising, and websites, was recently approached by Chai Lifeline who needed a logo to identify its organization. The nonprofit provides emotional, financial, and other services to families with pediatric illnesses. MHCG captured the essence of the mission with a design of hearts, hands, and people.


David-Avrin-Visibility-Marketing-BookVisibility Marketing Book Helps Fix Messaging that “Probably Sucks”

Visibility Marketing Book Helps Fix Messaging that “Probably Sucks”

The following is a blog article from MarCom Awards winner John P. David.

Here’s a news flash from well-known speaker and author David Avrin: Your marketing probably sucks. Ouch, right? In his latest book, Visibility Marketing, Avrin pulls no punches after years of consulting with companies about messaging and marketing. He concludes that most companies are using the same, competency-based messages – which may have worked in the past but don’t work now.

What led him to this? I sat down with Avrin to find out, and in between grins and laughter, I learned a ton. According to Avrin, whose book launches this week, the marketplace is populated with great companies that are smart, strong, lean and good at what they do. It’s no longer effective to suggest that your company is simply better than your competitors because 1) it’s probably not true and 2) the marketplace is fed-up with hearing the same trite messages over and over again.

Says Avrin, if you continue to use tired, competency-based messages such as “we have the best customer service” or “we only use the freshest ingredients,” then you are just one of many voices in the crowd saying the same dull thing. Are your competitors using stale ingredients? No. Are your competitors providing mediocre customer service? Probably not.

According to Avrin, the new normal is that everyone is good, and offering a quality product or service is table stakes. And the marketplace is rejecting competency-based messages.

So what do you do?

Avrin offers a number of ideas and even includes exercises at the end of each chapter in his book to help you figure it out. A few highlights:

Everybody’s good. Why are you better?

Because quality now abounds, you have to offer potential customers a compelling reason why they should switch to your company. Most of your prospects are already getting their needs met somewhere, so you need to explain why you are better and convert them.

In his book, Avrin discusses a company called Hydro Flask, which makes a compelling case why it’s insulated water bottles are better than its competitors. The company shipped filled bottles via postal mail to reporters and asked them not to open them until they were called three days later. Upon opening the bottles, reporters found (drum roll, please): ice. Hydro Flask showed why their insulated bottles are better than their competitors. After three days and a trip through the mail, still visibly ice cold.

Be visible

According to Avrin, when you think of visibility and traditional marketing, visions emerge of bright buildings, colorful outdoor advertising and perhaps guys waving signs by the roadside. Today, we must be visible where our customers congregate, in the publications they read and the websites they visit. Those who win in business are very successful at broadcasting their messages into the lives of their prospects.

Avrin also points out that you can continue with the “biggest and the brightest” messages but realize that you better be larger than life. He mentions how the Burj Khalifa in Dubai isn’t just the tallest building in the world, but the tallest by 700 feet. It’s impossible to ignore in its category.

To what question are you the answer?

So perhaps you don’t have the best water bottle or the tallest building, how do you market your product or service? According to Avrin, you don’t have to be the absolute biggest or the best, but you have to be the best choice for your target market.

In the book, he offers exercises on how to develop differentiators for your business. Today, we have to step back and ask hard questions, he advises. Why are we different? Where are we vulnerable? If we could recreate our company or product, how would we do it differently? And one of Avrin’s favorites: To what question are you the answer? 

If you are simply looking for another book with tired platitudes and over-told case studies, then this is not the book for you. However, if you value a straightforward, actionable and an often irreverent take on how to improve your business and get more customers, then I highly recommend Visibility Marketing.

Are you using competency based messages? And to what question are you the answer?


This article was originally published on and has been republished with permission. 


Author-and-PR-Pro-John-P-DavidJohn P. David is founder and president of Miami-based media relations firm David PR Group, and represents law firms, financial institutions, insurance companies and technology start-ups. He has more than 20 years of experience in the public relations industry serving South Florida-based and national clients. David frequently blogs about public relations and marketing at and his posts are regularly published by the Huffington Post. He also serves as a partner with online reputation management firm, a website that enables businesses to effectively respond to negative Internet posts. His first book, “How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online” will be published by Career Press in October 2016 and available online and bookstores everywhere.

modal-BG2016 MarCom Awards Now Open!

2016 MarCom Awards Now Open!

marcom awards logoNo one has to tell you how crowded your industry is. In the U.S. alone, there are over 100,000 companies listed in local phone books that would love to help with advertising, marketing, graphic arts, public relations, web and digital.

That number swells exponentially when you add all the individuals who work for those firms, plus freelancers and the tens of thousands who work for companies that employ their own creative staffs.

In a growing swarm of creative firms and individuals, it is increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd. Over the past 22 years, thousands of the world’s top creative firms and communication departments have turned to the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP) in search of third-party, earned recognition that would separate them from their peers.

StatuettesAMCP’s MarCom Awards, is one of the industry’s oldest, largest and most prestigious creative competitions. It is designed the way communication professionals want a creative competition to be run. Online entry is quick and easy, entries can be uploaded in seconds; fees are reasonable, so multiple entries can be submitted for various clients; work is judged on its own merits, not on time-consuming, imaginative explanations; results are unbiased and reported quickly, not months later when everyone has moved on to other projects and other clients.

As part of its mission, AMCP fosters and supports the efforts of creative professionals who contribute their unique talents to public service and charitable organizations.

MarCom entrants can enter their pro bono work without charge. Over the past decade, AMCP has donated about $200,000 to charitable and needy causes.


Annalisa-Russell-Smith-Spirit-of-CaringBehind the Camera: The Filming of Annalisa Russell-Smith’s <i>Spirit of Caring</i>

Behind the Camera: The Filming of Annalisa Russell-Smith’s Spirit of Caring

Communicators often get the opportunity – some would say responsibility – to tell a story that can affect the lives of a number of people. Professionals either do the work pro bono or offer nonprofits a substantial discount. AMCP judges see numerous wonderful projects where it’s clear the entrants are entirely invested in the cause.

One such example was independent storyteller Annalisa Russell-Smith‘s videos for Community Mental Health Affiliates. We recently caught up with the owner of Local Planet Productions to discuss the project, which just received a Platinum Award in the Hermes Creative Awards.

CMHA – The Spirit of Caring from Annalisa Russell-Smith on Vimeo.

Where did these videos appear for CMHA?

The main feature piece, “The Spirit of Caring,” was first shown at CMHA’s annual meeting, a gathering of supporters, legislators, fundraisers and community members in October 2015. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as each of the clients who appeared in the film took a bow. All the films are available on the CMHA website and are used for educational purposes in the community, for training and recruiting new staff, and for fundraising and lobbying. The shorter profiles are used on social media, especially during the various rounds of state budget cuts.

How did you get involved with CMHA, and what was their objective for this project?

Mental health is a subject too scary for many to discuss and yet one in four people has a diagnosable mental health condition, so raising awareness is a big priority for CMHA to break down some of the barriers preventing people from seeking help.

I got involved because I saw the amazing work they are doing in the community, but I could see how difficult it is to even begin explaining the complexity of their programs and the many kinds of problems they help people deal with in order to live productive lives. So I pitched the idea of doing a series of short, shareable films with the personal stories of people whose lives have been affected in very positive ways by CMHA to their executive team.

Mental illness and addiction are complex and often misunderstood. Why did you choose the approach you did for your videos?

Tackling complex subjects is what I do best, because at the end of the day it’s all about breaking them down into parts that are more easily understood, and there’s no better way to do that than by talking to people with first-hand experience of the problem. It’s a very personal approach and relies upon building trust and the kind of rapport which allows the person being interviewed to simply be themselves.

Addiction from Annalisa Russell-Smith on Vimeo.

These topics are sobering. Did you need to prepare yourself mentally to work on this?

I agree, the topics are very sobering, but I’m not afraid to sit down and hear what someone has to say. Being able to simply listen to someone is often the most important part of the work I do.

The kind of preparation I do is much more about research to gain a better understanding of the subject so I can find ways to tell the story that needs to be told. For example, I learned all I could about paranoid schizophrenia by reading and talking with experts in the field in order to ask the kind of questions that would enable me to explain things through the eyes of someone living with paranoid schizophrenia. I researched addiction in the same way.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

As with anything filmed in documentary style, nothing is guaranteed because you’re filming real life as it happens rather than actors with a script! So the most challenging aspect of this project was ensuring I had enough material to truly give the viewer an understanding of not just of the company but of the people who shared their stories with me.

What do you hope viewers of your videos walk away with?

I hope viewers walk away with a little more understanding of why our mental health is just as important as our physical health. Once that starts to happen, perhaps the whole subject will be a little less scary to people.

View all of Annalisa’s videos on Vimeo.

denison-university2016 Hermes Creative Awards Spotlight: Denison University

2016 Hermes Creative Awards Spotlight: Denison University

Before we release a list of all the winners for the 2016 Hermes Creative Awards on May 2, we’re showcasing select entries that stand out. Keep checking back to see if your work will be highlighted. Haven’t entered yet? There’s still time (until April 12!).

Hermes Creative Awards Organization: Denison University
Location: Granville, Ohio
Title of Entry: “Student Life at Denison”
Category: 158. Educational video

This incredible video shows a walk through Denison University campus telling the schools’ story, in one continuous shot. This is a great example of precision planning and execution. The reel is very well shot, edited and choreographed. You sense that everyone had a lot of fun doing this, and it leaves the viewer asking, how did they do that?

CBG-Building-Company2016 Hermes Creative Awards Spotlight: CBG Building Company

2016 Hermes Creative Awards Spotlight: CBG Building Company

Before we release a list of all the winners for the 2016 Hermes Creative Awards on May 2, we’re showcasing select entries that stand out. Keep checking back to see if your work will be highlighted. Haven’t entered yet? There’s still time (until April 12!).

Hermes Creative Awards Organization: CBG Building Company
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Title of Entry: “Community Collaboration for CBG Building Company’s Walkway Signage”
Category: 82c. Community Collaboration Strategic PR Program

How do you turn an eyesore into a work of art? If you are CBG Building Company, you approach kids and give them the tools to do it.

CBG was constructing an apartment community in Arlington, Virginia. Because of the project, CBG needed to build one of those plywood covered walkways to protect pedestrians, which is not always a welcome addition to a neighborhood.

To make the best of the situation, the company collaborated with art teachers and students at two nearby elementary school to create a public arts project that would also increase CBG brand awareness. The result was an eye-catching collage of colors and paintings from the imaginations of children.

CBG Public Art Community Walkway

digital-pulse-australia2016 Hermes Creative Awards Spotlight: The Pulse

2016 Hermes Creative Awards Spotlight: The Pulse

Before we release a list of all the winners for the 2016 Hermes Creative Awards on May 2, we’re showcasing select entries that stand out. Keep checking back to see if your work will be highlighted. Haven’t entered yet? There’s still time (until April 12!).

Hermes Creative Awards Organization: The Pulse
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Title of Entry: “Westpac VR”
Category: 194c. Virtual Reality

Westpac commissioned The Pulse to created a virtual reality experience for staff as part of a presentation to showcase what the future of banking might hold and to demonstrate a range of technologies that may or may not have an impact on the industry.

The 360 video includes spectacular drone footage, a CG environment, live action and composited graphics. The VR story follows a family as they experience the technology that could become part of their future and focuses on the customer’s needs throughout the life-cycle from child to adult to retiree.

gelia-marketing2016 Hermes Creative Awards Spotlight: Gelia

2016 Hermes Creative Awards Spotlight: Gelia

Before we release a list of all the winners for the 2016 Hermes Creative Awards on May 2, we’re showcasing select entries that stand out. Keep checking back to see if your work will be highlighted. Haven’t entered yet? There’s still time (until April 12)!

Hermes Creative Awards Organization: Gelia
Client: Independent Health Foundation
Location: Buffalo, New York
Title of Entry: “Talking Vending Machine Prank”
Category: 134c. Viral marketing social media campaign

How do you send a viral market through the stratosphere? You have to start with a great idea, but sometimes those can be hard to come by. Enter Gelia, an American marketing firm with international reach.

Gelia was recently approached by the Independent Health Foundation whose staff wanted to encourage young adults to eat right. One go-to food stop on a campus is a vending machine with not-so-healthy food, so Gelia placed five hidden cameras around one such machine at the University of Buffalo in New York for a day. They hired an improv actor to be the voice of the vending machine, and he challenged students on their food choices.

The effort resulted in three funny, informative viral videos that went national, garnering social and traditional media attention.

DAINIK-BHASKAR-GROUP2016 Hermes Creative Awards Spotlight: Dainik Bhaskar Group

2016 Hermes Creative Awards Spotlight: Dainik Bhaskar Group

Before we release a list of all the winners for the 2016 Hermes Creative Awards on May 2, we’re showcasing select entries that stand out. Keep checking back to see if your work will be highlighted. Haven’t entered yet? There’s still time!

Hermes Creative Awards Organization: Dainik Bhaskar Group
Location: Bhopal, India
Title of Entry: “Annadaan – Dainik Bhaskar Group”
Category: 72c. Corporate Social Responsibility Program

Dainik Bhaskar, which means “rising sun” in Hindi, is India’s largest native language newspaper group. Dainik Bhaskar was founded in Bhopal in 1956 and has a readership of nearly 44 million people.

All newspapers, of course, cover major stories, but Dainik Bhaskar decided to go beyond the headlines.

During the summer of 2015, the Marathwada region of Maharashtra was reeling under a devastating drought. This resulted in massive crop failure, and the region was walloped by farmer suicides.

As much as 84% of Maharashtra’s agriculture is rain-fed, which includes Marathwada, and the region that faced the worst ever drought in past half a century. The area normally receives around 780 millimeters of rainfall during monsoons, but the number dwindled to 259 in the month of June. With incessant shortfall of rain in Maharashtra, water storage in the state’s dam also hit a three-year low.

Facing its third successive year of below-normal monsoon, farmers and their families who feed billions are the ones bearing the brunt, which led to a lack of consistent income necessary for their subsistence, including proper food and water for them.

Dainik Bhaskar decided to help by using its influence to collect and distribute food grain throughout the stricken area. After a month-long drive, Dainik Bhaskar delivered more than 300 tons of grain to 15,000 farm families in 36 cities.

Annadaan Dainik Bhaskar

expedia-media-solutions2016 Hermes Creative Awards Spotlight: Expedia Media Solutions

2016 Hermes Creative Awards Spotlight: Expedia Media Solutions

Before we release a list of all the winners for the 2016 Hermes Creative Awards on May 2, we’re showcasing select entries that stand out. Keep checking back to see if your work will be highlighted. Haven’t entered yet? There’s still time!

Hermes Creative Awards Organization: Expedia Media Solutions
Location: Bellevue, Washington
Title of Entry: “#VanGogh2015″
Category :131c. Consumer Engagement

Twitter just celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. Despite the years, users are still finding clever ways to use the social media tool.

Recently, The Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions turned to Expedia Media Solutions, the advertising arm of Expedia, Inc., to raise awareness of Holland with travelers. Using Twitter, Expedia came up with a campaign tied to one of the country’s most famous painters and one of the world’s best impressionists.

The team challenged consumers to collaboratively tweet and retweet a #VanGogh2015 hashtag to earn brush strokes that would reveal one famous Van Gogh work of art each week, with the chance to win a trip for two to Holland.

The campaign generated more than two million impressions and drove double-digit growth in Holland’s visitor demand.

#VanGogh2015 by Expedia Media Solutions#VanGogh2015 by Expedia Media Solutions