Coming Up ACEs

June 2, 2015

A look inside the prized work of two Global ACE Award winners

By Ryan Dinger

Since 1982, BMA-New York City has honored some of the best B-to-B creative campaigns and promotions through its Global ACE Awards. Hailed by The New York Times as "one of the industry's best creative awards," the Global ACE Awards recognize truly transcendent work. Entries are judged on their ability to promote innovations that create real and lasting change, inform consumers and transform the way people do business, and shape the dynamics of commerce on industrywide, nationwide, and global scales.

At this year's ceremony, held April 29, close to 50 first-place awards were presented in a number of different categories. BMA Buzz caught up with two ACE winners to learn more about their prized work.

Sam White, account manager at BBDO New York

Award: Integrated Marketing Campaign ($1 million and over)
Campaign: "Childlike Imagination"
Client: GE
Campaign objective: Demonstrate that GE combines dreaming and doing to drive the future forward

Q: How was this particular campaign conceptualized?

White: We took a deeper look at the meaning and connotations of imagination. We debated the people who best represent imagination. And then it came to us: The most imaginative people in the world are children. By looking at GE's products and services with a sense of childlike imagination, we'd be able to evoke wonder in a beautiful and simple way that everyone could relate to. After all, there is a child within all of us.

Q: How did this campaign work?

White: We launched our campaign during the first night of the 2014 Winter Olympics, a suitably human and emotional backdrop. The "Childlike Imagination" ad whimsically and movingly brought to life the very real and life-changing technology GE is working on right now. We took the idea from the TV spot — kids looking at their parents' GE jobs — and created an actual employee engagement program where kids of GE employees shared their own imagination of what their parents did. These were then professionally illustrated and distributed through social channels — Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. GE also partnered with the emerging social writing platform Medium to discuss the importance of imagination.

Q: What was the creative process like?

White: Bringing this campaign to life was unique in that the core concept was all about imagination. So when it came time to work with the director for the TV commercial, or the illustrators for the social media campaign, everyone was given a lot of latitude to apply their own interpretations to the concepts — to use their imaginations.

Q: What did it mean to your company to take home this award?

White: It validated our opinion that B-to-B advertising doesn't have to be boring.

Q: If you could give any piece of advice to a young marketer, what would it be?

White: Never stop asking questions. Lean into your childlike sense of curiosity and don't be afraid to challenge what you find.

Gene Campanelli and Peter Powell, creative directors at Leo Burnett Business

Award: Agency Promotion (Single)
Promotion: "The Gift of Quality Time"
Objective: To say "happy holidays" to their clients, partners, and prospects in a meaningful way

Q: How was this promotion conceptualized?

Campanelli: We like to do something meaningful for our clients and partners for the holidays. This year, the impact of technology on our lives was top of mind for a lot of folks. Smartphones and so forth can be great for bringing us closer together, but there are times when they drive us apart. We wanted to create a fun way to give families some time away from their devices and, instead, be with each other.

Q: How did the promotion work?

Powell: We sent out a beautifully designed box and invited recipients to fold it together and put their cell phones inside during the big holiday meal. The box was lined with signal-impeding material to help keep the buzzes, dings, and ringtones at bay. It was a simple way to mark the occasion as special family time — a few uninterrupted hours to reconnect the old-fashioned way. And argue!

Q: What was the creative process like?

Powell: We wanted something physical to bring [the campaign] to life. It needed to have a presence to make the point, rather than just a sign or a sticker announcing a "no-cell phone zone." That's why we went for the box. 

Campanelli: We decided that the idea was better and more interesting if the box could somehow impede signals. We worked with our printer to find the right materials that would both let us achieve the traditional, aesthetic look we were going for and help us keep the phones from ringing. And to complete the seasonal nature of the piece, we wrote our instructional copy in the style of a holiday poem.

Q: If you could give any piece of advice to young marketers, what would it be?

Powell: Today's marketing environment is incredibly cluttered. Every day a new medium is added. That's why it gets more and more important to have an idea. To be clear, an idea isn't a hashtag, nor is it a pun, or a cute cat video. An idea is an original way to communicate your brand's objectives that gets people to think or act. And if it's mighty enough, it should work right across the modern media spectrum. So always make sure there is a real idea bubbling away inside your work. Then it's a question of determining if your idea is good. But that's your job!

See the full list of Global ACE Award winners.


"Coming Up ACEs." Ryan Dinger. BMA Buzz. 6/2/15.