Cincinnati Shops Engage in an 'Agency Fight Night'

Two-Hour Contest Produces Several Ideas Reds Likely to Use

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Judges at Cincinnati Agency Fight Night, from left: P&G's Jodi Allen, Reds' Phil Castellini, MLB's Jacqueline Parkes
Judges at Cincinnati Agency Fight Night, from left: P&G's Jodi Allen, Reds' Phil Castellini, MLB's Jacqueline Parkes Credit: Possible

Creative shootouts that involve work largely for free often aren't fun. Agency Fight Night, an event pairing three of Cincinnati's largest agencies, was an exception, as the shops produced rapid-fire ideas across seven challenges within a couple of hours for the Reds.

It wasn't just for show. Reds Chief Operating Officer Phil Castellini, one of the judges, said he's likely to use at least four or five of the ideas generated by WPP's Possible and Rockfish and Omnicom's Barefoot Proximity.

Other judges were Major League Baseball CMO Jacqueline Parkes and Procter & Gamble Co. VP-North American Hair Care Jodi Allen.

The idea was the brainchild of Barefoot Chief Innovation Officer Troy Hitch, who got Possible's Executive Creative Director Adam Kahn and Rockfish's Chief Creative Officer Jason Bender to go along, with help from PR shop Wordsworth Communications. The event drew a noisy crowd of more than 300 to the Woodward Theater in Cincinnati's Over-The-Rhine neighborhood on a cold weeknight.

It wasn't meant to pitch business, but to showcase the city's creative talent, Mr. Hitch said, and he's looking for ways to repeat and expand the event, possibly with non-profits.

"These guys brought this idea to me and it was a no brainer," Mr. Castellini said. "They had me at hello. The ideas were great and we intend to use them."

Among his favorites: Naming the Reds' season ticketholder membership program The Big Fan Machine, a Swipe Right Night sponsored by Tindr, and a Facebook video post with an "aw factor" pairing the large crop of young players on a rebuilding franchise with Zoobabies from an annual Cincinnati Zoo program showcasing each year's crop of baby animals.

Ms. Allen liked a proposed name for a new stadium bar targeted at millennials (Stacked – after the smokestacks at Great American Ballpark). "I think for this city this is an awesome thing," she said. "Our agencies are growing and making more impact every day."

Mr. Castellini has brought most of the Reds' creative work, once spread among four agencies, in house. "But you can get caught up in a sea of sameness," he said, so he jumped at the chance for outside perspective.

All the participants get tickets to the Reds second game of the season next year, and, depending on how they placed, field box seats, dugout seats or a trip to one of the in-stadium bars during a game later this year. Possible won, edging sibling Rockfish in a tiebreaker round, which provoked chants of "WPP" from the crowd when they were announced as finalists.

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