Scott's, Target, Ford Score ANA Multicultural Excellence Awards

Winning Ads Offered Cultural Insights Tinged With Humor

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Cultural insights, often combined with humor, won top honors for nine marketers including Toyota Motor Sales, Target , Ford Motor Co. and Scotts Miracle-Gro Company at the Multicultural Excellence Awards handed out Monday night at the Association of National Advertisers' annual Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference.

"We were looking for a campaign that was insights-driven and delivered a culturally relevant message," said Dipika Hemdev, assistant manager of multicultural marketing at General Mills and one of this year's judges. One of the judges' favorite campaigns, for Scotts Miracle-Gro, did all that "and also tops it off with humor. Those are the ads that typically won." The Scotts campaign, for Ortho Home Defense Max Insect Killer by Grupo Gallegos, was named best Hispanic campaign -- and was the first Hispanic TV commercial the marketer has ever done. In the spot, an innocent flip flop used to smash bugs turns into a merciless killing machine that hops around on its own and finally starts spraying a large canister of Ortho Home Defense all by itself.

Grupo Gallegos scored again with best radio campaign, for Target . In one spot, a Mexican band mellifluously sings a list of sales items like "Green Giant baby carrots for $1.99." The tagline: "At Target , sales prices sound like a serenade." In the Target serenade, they're singing "Grade A large eggs for only 99 cents a dozen," Ms. Hemdev said. "That humor really resonates."

The winner in the digital media category was Toyota Motor Sales, whose Asian-American agency InterTrend Communications partnered Toyota with Hatsune Miku, a Japanese computer-generated pop star who is a hit in Asia and well known to the young Asian-American women dubbed "Discerning Dreamers" by Toyota. The small anime-like Miku character, sporting very long blue hair, became the image of Corolla's "Big Dreams in a Compact Package" strategy for Asian women. The campaign was launched to coincide with Hatsune Miku's real virtual debut in the U.S., to maximize traffic to Toyota's website, Facebook page and YouTube channel, where Miku's "Dream Harmonic" video was posted and hit 1 million views in less than three weeks.

Toyota app with Hatsune Miku
Toyota app with Hatsune Miku

"For the general market that [Miku] figure wouldn't mean much," said Hector Vallejo, a multicultural marketing exec at DeWALT Industrial Tool Co. and one of the judges. "But it was very relevant, very hip, and very targeted and culturally relevant to young Asian Americans."

Judges awarded best Campaign with Significant Results to the "Visit Florida" effort by Alma DDB, a Hispanic agency that does general market work for the Florida tourism group. Alma DDB's task was to lure back the visitors from six key U.S. cities who had reliably accounted for 31% of Florida's out-of -state visitors until the recession and headlines about the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill discouraged tourists. A TV spot shows tempting images of a carefree vacation in the sun, and ends with a woman in a winter coat staring wistfully at an outdoor ad showing just such a fantasy-like vacation, with the tagline "Unleash your Florida side." Alma DDB said that an 83% jump in incremental travel was attributed to the ads in 2010, with a further 47% increase in 2011.

The best African-American campaign was for Ford Motor Co. by WPP Group's Uniworld Group, and included a TV spot starring comedian and actor Kevin Hart, who crashes an outdoor wedding reception in a roomy white Ford Explorer packed with wedding presents. The happy couple, thinking the Explorer is one of the gifts, drive off.

Uniworld also won the award for best print campaign for the United States Marine Corps In each ad, a Marine in uniform names the town they are from, followed by the tagline "A United States marine is what I am." A URL leads to a map of the U.S. with links to videos of Marines' personal stories of realizing their dreams, like becoming a helicopter pilot.

Two of the winning campaigns were for anti-smoking efforts. In the spot named best Asian-American campaign, for the California Department of Public Health by the A Partnership, a small child is eating from a bowl of cereal that turns into filthy cigarette butts that he spoons into his ash-covered mouth. The tagline: "When you smoke, your child gets your leftovers." The other anti-smoking effort, for the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust by Capstrat, was named the best general-market campaign.

Allstate Insurance Co. and Leo Burnett picked up the LGBT award for an outdoor and online campaign designed to show LGBT consumers in California that Allstate appreciates them for who they are, and understands their frustration at not being treated equally under the law. One ad featuring two women holding hands reads "Same sex, same treatment" and explains that with Allstate registered domestic partners get the same discounts as married couples.

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