Published on .

May 11, 2001

By Alice Z. Cuneo

LOS ANGELES ( -- West Coast agency executives once again had something to chew over as the Advertising Club of Los Angeles held its 35th annual Belding Awards dinner Thursday night.

Ground Zero chairman Jim Smith, in accepting the top honor, the Sweepstakes Belding Bowl, told the audience that while the nation might be facing an economic downturn, those in advertising should remember what "a remarkable business this is" and should do so by celebrating its standards, values and creativity.

"This business makes wonderful things happen," he said.

'Best counsel you can get'
To clients in the audience, Mr. Smith said agencies, and not consultants and other advisers, are their best choice to help them fix today's business challenges.

"Advertising agencies provide the best counsel you can get in your business, bar none," he said.

Ground Zero won the Sweepstakes Bowl for a TV campaign for ESPN showing three men humorously preoccupied with the start of the National Football League season. In one, a father drives with his child's car seat strapped to the roof. In a second, a man tosses a turkey he is preparing into the dryer. In a third spot, which also won an individual TV award, a father insensitively tells his daughter that their family pet is not in "pet heaven," but simply buried behind the shed. Each spot ends with an actor in profile showing, in a cartoonlike manner, how the inside of his brain turns from parenting to football.

In addition, Ground Zero won two bowls in categories presented for the first time, copywriting and art direction.

Just going for laughs?
One Belding presenter, Rick Colby, a partner of Dentsu-owned shop Colby Effler and Partners, Santa Monica, said after the event that he was concerned awards at the Belding and other industry shows often are handed out to work that makes the judges laugh and are not weighed more carefully for their effectiveness.

"They should be more about solving real problems, getting results -- rewarding truly great advertising," he said.

Mr. Colby said he has been a judge at numerous awards shows and the presence of ad club sponsors at the judging commonly influences the decisions.

Under Belding tradition, the agency that wins the Sweepstakes Bowl takes on the chairmanship of the show the following year. However, last year's winner, the Kowloon Wholesale Seafood Co., Santa Monica, the agency for Jack in the Box, backed down as planning was under way.

Agency head rushed to hospital
Jean Robaire, principal of agency Robaire & Hogshead, Venice, took over the events planning. Mr. Robaire, however, was taken to the hospital on the day of the awards, leading some co-workers to speculate that the stress of the event had taken its toll. Mr. Robaire's partner, Sally Hogshead, read comments he had planned for the evening.

In addition to Ground Zero, other winners include Adelante/DGWB, Santa Ana, with two bowls for TV work for Ugly Duckling Used Car Sales; Robaire & Hogshead for Consolidated Shoe Co.; Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles, for Toyota Motor Sales Inc.; and Wongdoody, West Hollywood, for a spot for the Advertising Professionals of America urging an end to last year's commercial actors strike.

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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