"Eagle is the biggest challenge I've ever encountered," says Mr. Topolewski, managing partner-creative at Bozell Worldwide, Southfield, Mich. "It's a brand that not many people know about, and the competition is fierce."
So much for resting on laurels. Mr. Topolewski and other creative team members were in California shooting the Eagle campaign for Chrysler Corp. when Bozell's "Snow Covered" Jeep spot scored an unexpected victory June 24.
But the award "hasn't really changed anything. It's back to work, and I enjoy what I do."
The humorous Eagle campaign that broke in August, using more than $100 million in national and regional dealer group funds, is the most concentrated effort yet to put the brand on the map.
The advertising uses Greg Kinnear, host of E! Entertainment Television's "Talk Soup" and NBC's "Later," in 14 spots based on test drives.
"We know that once people get into an Eagle product, they like it," Mr. Topolewski says. "We picked Kinnear because he's on the rise, like Eagle. We didn't want to convey a bland test-drive experience. We wanted to package it in a way that's entertaining."
The most satisfying part of the business for Mr. Topolewski is to come up with "a piece of advertising that is truly unique and fun and different, but also meets all of the client's objectives."
He says too many Detroit automakers and their agencies settled for "advertising [that was] boring and mediocre" several years ago. But "you're seeing better advertising coming out of everybody now."
The Grand Prix win symbolizes the changes. The commercial was developed after Chrysler told Bozell it wanted a memorable spot to feature on its big 1994 Winter Olympics buy. Agency creatives posted hundreds of ideas on Mr. Topolewski's office walls.
Senior Art Director Andy Ozark sketched out the idea for a Jeep burrowing a tunnel through snow. It evolved to the Jeep halting at a nearly buried stop sign and flashing a turn signal, before going left.
"The whole department rallied behind it," says Mr. Topolewski, who didn't even bring along any backup ideas when it came time to make a presentation to Chrysler.
As the agency's head creative, Mr. Topolewski believes in leading by example. But as the award-winning Jeep spot shows, "I will not dictate my idea if somebody else has a better idea. Nobody is that good that he has a lock on creativity."