Toyota, McDonald's Score Best Ideas At U.S. Hispanic Awards

Pet Adoption Effort and Film Festivals Are Also Big Winners

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Universal insights, ranging from the current obsession with selfies to the way big news events are covered by helicopters overhead, fueled the ideas that were named the five best of the year at the third annual U.S.H. Idea Awards.

The awards are organized by the Circulo Creativo of U.S. Hispanic creatives and were presented Tuesday night during the Hispanic agency group AHAA's annual conference in Miami. Here are the five best ideas from U.S. Hispanic agencies:

1. In "Mutt Bombing," Omnicom's Hispanic agency Dieste took up the cause of Dallas Pets Alive after Executive Creative Director Ciro Sarmiento happened upon an adoption event in a local park, and was drawn into the challenge of finding foster families—and eventually permanent homes—for abandoned animals before their days ran out at the pet shelter. In February, Dieste selected selfies on Instagram of well-known or influential users, photoshopped an adoptable dog into each one, and reposted them with the adoption message and the hashtag #muttbombing.

"They didn't just slap pictures in," said Aldo Quevedo, AHAA's chairman and principal/creative director at Richards Lerma. "It's very well done, it's just like the dogs are there. These are the kind of ideas I love in the sense of giving back to the community."

2. "Headlines from the Sky" by Saatchi & Saatchi's Hispanic shop Conill for Toyota was based on the historic return of the space shuttle Endeavour to its final home at the California Science Center. To celebrate that event, a Toyota Tundra helped tow the extraordinarily heavy shuttle through the streets of Los Angeles. Conill's insight—and innovative use of media--was that news organizations would use helicopters to cover the event. The agency placed huge billboards on the rooftops along the Endeavour's route, ensuring that millions who watched the coverage on TV saw Tundra-branded messages like "The greatest journey is the one home."

"There are two parts to the idea, starting with a demo," said Laurence Klinger, who is president of Circulo Creativo and EVP-chief creative officer at Lapiz. "So many truck ads are about how strong they are; this one doesn't say it, the truck pulls this huge thing. And then they took over the rooftops and got primetime TV exposure. They made a wonderful idea that only a few people would see into one for millions."

3. "First Customer" is a charming, beautifully-acted spot following a teenager's first day at his first-ever job, behind the counter at McDonald's. His excited Hispanic parents are his first customers, chatting in Spanish and snapping photographs. At the end, his slightly-older, non-Hispanic manager tells him not to worry about his parent's antics because "mine took video."

4. Conill was also behind Robocop, a hilarious play on the tendency of some Latin Americans to give their children absurd names based on a word they have seen or heard. (For instance, in the popular musical "In the Heights," set in New York City's Dominican community in Washington Heights, the lead character's name is Usnavi, because one of the first sights his parents saw as they arrived in America was a U.S. Navy ship). In this spot for an Argentine film festival for the Consulate General of Argentina, a father names his son after his favorite movie, Robocop. The poor kid grows up teased and tormented for his ridiculous name, leading to the tagline "If a movie is going to change your life, make it the right one."

5. And an awards show wouldn't be complete without a prize for Cine Las Americas, LatinWorks' long-running effort for the annual Latin film festival in the agency's home city Austin. The radio and TV spots always center around absurdities that were truly spoken by some of Latin America's crazier leaders, and end with the tagline "If this is our reality, imagine our movies." Each year, the pressure is on LatinWorks to come up with a new twist.

This year, it looked at first like the much-loved theme had been abandoned as the radio spot "Drugs" started as a rap song about how the difference between the rich and the poor is that drug dealers sell the poor really bad drugs that screw them up while the rich can afford the good stuff. But no! It turns out Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner had really spoken those words in a speech to thousands in March.

At LatinWorks, creatives scour the news every day for months collecting lunatic ravings for the next campaign. Inventing the next twist is harder. Sergio Alcocer, LatinWorks' president and chief creative officer said "I turn down about 60 ideas. And then someone said, 'what if we rap it?'" To grab even more attention, "Drugs" and two other radio spots skewering leaders from Bolivia and Mexico were played on the radio as real rap songs performed by genuine rap groups before appearing in a shorter version that identified the Latin American leader and ended with the campaign's tagline.

"What signal are we sending to the industry that [only] two of the five are brands?" said Mr. Quevedo, indicating that the judges had discussed that two of the best-idea winners were film festivals and one a public service campaign. "We're not just judging creative; even in the pro bono work, agencies are looking for that insight."

A 12-person jury picked the 25 winners, then the two international judges—Icaro Doria, executive creative director of Wieden & Kennedy Sao Paulo, and Hector Fernandez, CEO and executive creative director of Publicis Mexico–chose the best five ideas from the ten highest-scoring winners.

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