In contrast with last year, when business messages flooded TV and other consumer venues with quirky, imaginative concepts, 2001 proved to be a very conservative period for b-to-b advertising--no doubt in response to the dot-com debacle and overall market woes. Cat herders have been replaced with number crunchers. However, some marketers and their agencies took advantage of the repressed environment to stand out from all those licking their wounds.
The 18th Annual Sawyer Awards honor the best ads of 2001. And even though this year's winning ads are markedly more sedate than what we saw in 2000, they are generally smarter and work harder for the attention of buyers. In many cases, advertisers and agencies have recognized the key to marketing in a downturn is to return to the basics and present a compelling sales proposition that will boost customers' bottom lines.
The Chasers and BtoB's panel of advertising experts chose winners and runners-up in four categories: best integrated campaign, best single TV spot, best single print ad and best interactive effort. More than 100 ads from some 50 advertisers were nominated and judged for the Sawyer Awards, which are named in memory of Howard G. "Scotty" Sawyer, the longtime captain of the Copy Chasers. The Copy Chasers column--now known simply as Chasers--was launched in 1936 in Industrial Marketing, a predecessor of BtoB.
To be considered for the Sawyer Awards, ads must have originated in the current calendar year. And, of course, they must demonstrate an exceptional mix of strong visuals, sharp copy, effective branding and a clear, actionable message.