The American Red Cross ad wins top honours at MSN Creative Awards

MUMBAI: Some of the US advertising industry's most entertaining, effective and innovative online campaigns earned kudos at the third annual MSN Creative Awards, presented by MSN.

Eight prominent agencies received a total of $50,000 to honour their groundbreaking work in four categories of online advertising for campaigns that appeared on MSN sites over the past year. The winners were chosen from more than 300 creative entries representing over 130 brands in a competition centered on the theme of web pioneers.



Gold award honors and a $10,000 prize in the newly added video category went to the Hill Holliday agency in New York for its ad on behalf of The American Red Cross. Hill Holliday created a 30-second video that shows various people -- a truck driver, a man washing his car, an elderly woman wheeling her trash can to the curb, a girl walking her dog -- as different voices are heard saying: "I don't think like you. I don't laugh at the same jokes as you. I don't speak like you. I don't eat the food you do. I don't celebrate the same holidays as you. But I will help save your life." It concludes with the message, "When you help the American Red Cross, you help America."



Critical Mass received a $5,000 silver award in the video category for its ad campaign on behalf of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority via a partnership with R&R Partners. Its 15-second video, "What the Maid Found," follows a Las Vegas hotel's housekeeper as she discovers a strange assortment of items -- from a riding crop to maracas to a single go-go boot -- that the room's occupant left behind. The streaming ad closes with Las Vegas' signature tagline: "What happens here, stays here."

Silver awards of $5,000 also went to the following agencies and campaigns:

* Direct Response. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco (Subway); Real Pie Media, Beverly Hills, Calif. (Fox Searchlight Pictures' film "Sideways")

* Branding. Carat Interactive, San Francisco (adidas a3 Megaride shoe); OMD Digital and Fallon Worldwide (United Airlines); Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (HP PhotoSmart 8450 printer and HP Vivera inks)

* Rich Media. MECi-The Digital Edge, Los Angeles and Dare, London (Sony Ericsson P910 smartphone); Media 8 Digital Marketing (in partnership with The Cartel Group), Miami (US Army)

The $25,000 that was earmarked for this year's best-in-show winner will be added to the prize money for this honor in the 2006 contest, creating a $50,000 incentive for agencies to produce superior ads in the months to come.



"We applaud this year's winning agencies for delivering exceptionally effective and boldly original campaigns on behalf of their clients, and we're especially pleased to have this creativity and online impact featured on MSN. With a top prize of $50,000 awaiting the overall best-in-show winner at next year's MSN Creative Awards, we expect even more agencies and brands will join us in continuing to push the boundaries of what is possible in online advertising," said MSN chief media revenue officer Joanne Bradford.

Judges selected the winning campaigns on the basis of creative execution, innovation and overall ad effectiveness. For the first time, entries this year were judged by a panel of leading creative officers and creative directors from among the most prestigious advertising agencies in North America.

Chaired by Taxi chairman and chief creative officer Paul Lavoie, the judges included The Barbarian Group LLC president and co-founder Benjamin Palmer; OgilvyOne San Francisco partner and creative director Aaron Griffiths; BEAM cofounder and executive creative director Dave Batista and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners group associate creative director Will McGinness.

"The campaigns we selected are more testimony that the Web has become another exciting creative opportunity for agencies in their pursuit of new ways for advertisers to connect with audiences. I applaud MSN for playing such an integral role in inspiring the advertising community with these awards. Yet, even with the number of exceptional campaigns submitted this year, the judges agreed that the surface has barely been scratched when it comes to the creativity and impact possible in online advertising. Our choice to withhold the best-in-show award this year reflects our belief that no one piece submitted this year set a new standard, but also is a challenge for some agency out there to lead the way with next year's show," Lavoie said.

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