Hispanic Creative Advertising Awards

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Guerrilla marketing, fresh and cheap and in-your-face, was behind some of the most inspiring work that competed for Advertising Age's 2005 Hispanic Creative Advertising Awards.

The judges' favorite foray into nontraditional media, titled "Wash Me," was a basic stencil sponged over dusty cars that advertised Delivery Car Wash and a phone number, promoting the service and creating a billboard on wheels. That no-frills idea by JWT Puerto Rico, San Juan, was not only one of the few unanimous Gold award decisions, but also won a new Best of Show award created this year for nonbroadcast media.

"In Puerto Rico, it's like a cult to have a clean car, and if you don't, people write things on it like `Pig' and `Wash me,' " says Jaime Rosado, creative director at JWT Puerto Rico, whose cars are washed by Delivery. "So it was better to put a solution on the dirty cars rather than an insult."

And it doesn't get any lower-budget than the entry "Jail," simply a sentence chalked on the sidewalk in the shape of a square warning passers-by that anyone carrying a deadly weapon had better get used to living in a space that size. That effort from the Partnership for a Drug-Free Puerto Rico, via BBDO Puerto Rico, also won Gold for nontraditional marketing.

"Nontraditional media and guerrilla marketing offer a whole new canvas for our industry that doesn't depend on budget," says Luis Miguel Messianu, president of this year's jury and chief creative officer of Del Rivero Messianu DDB, Coral Gables, Fla. "It's about ingenio latino, Latin ingenuity. And the Latin mentality is a perfect match for this new category that really caught the eye of the judges this year."

Other agencies handed out fake movie tickets to promote a New York film festival, splashed images of discarded clothing on the floor of a Florida mall to lead shoppers to Nordstrom, and put Miami nightclub bouncers in the front lines of a street campaign to stop intoxicated drivers.

In more traditional media, the Best of Show for broadcast- La Comunidad's "Parents Day" for VH1-and Gold TV winners for Energizer from Grupo Gallegos and Kellogg's from Lapiz also won Cannes Lions this year. That marked the U.S. Hispanic market's best-ever performance at the prestigious international ad festival. Those three spots, though relevant to Hispanics, aren't overtly ethnic and would fit in as part of a general-market campaign.

"It's a discussion we have with clients all the time-what's Hispanic about it?" Mr. Messianu says. "With the evolution of the consumer, casting is not as stereotypical. It's important to anchor work on relevant insights, but we're over the era of dark skin and mustaches."

If you go back seven years, when Mr. Messianu was a judge in the first year of Ad Age's Hispanic creative awards, "the work was more ethnic," he says. "Now, we're talking about the quality of ideas, not the degree of ethnicity."

The Latin market's crossover potential keeps growing. Toyota likes Conill's new Hispanic spot for the 2006 4Runner so much that an English-language version will run during football games on Fox and CBS. In the ad breaking this month, haunting tribal music turns out to be coming from the back seat passengers, Yanomami Indians. And pop star Shakira, whose Spanish song climbed English-language charts, stars in a Verizon Wireless commercial from GlobalHue, Southfield, Mich., in both languages.

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