TBWA/Chiat/Day Takes Home Top Effie

The economic downturn is having its impact on advertising, with falloffs reported across the board. But you couldn't tell last night at the Marriott Marquis on Broadway, where hundreds gathered at a black tie affair for the Effie Awards Show.

Agencies and advertisers looked on as 108 awards were bestowed to 40 agencies. The top winner was TBWA/Chiat/Day/Los Angeles for the campaign that launched the Nissan Xterra SUV. It won the Grand Effie, the third year in a row the agency, part of the Omnicom Group, won the top Effie award.

The campaign, called the most successful launch in Nissan history, features tv spots aimed at a youthful market with music from Lenny Kravitz and Jimi Hendrix and shots of young people engaging in extreme sports. "The advertising shows authenticity and lifestyle," according to Nissan's director of marketing John Rinek. "It's a bull's-eye."

Surprisingly, the ads appealed to only 15% of a USA Today poll, but 18 to 30 year olds loved the ads, which is Nissan's market for the Xterra.

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The award helps overcome the tragedy of the death of four people in a helicopter crash during the shooting of an Xterra commercial in British Columbia last June.

Young & Rubicam led all agencies with four Gold Effies for ads it did for Sony, Fisher-Price, Kraft Foods and Census 2000. Ogilvy & Mather was next, winning Golds for work it did for IBM, IBM Software and Centocor's Remicade.

Top agency winners included DDB and Young and Rubicam with ten awards each, J. Walter Thompson with seven, BBDO with six and Arnold Worldwide and Fallon with five. Six other agencies received four awards.

As the awards were given out, Gold winner TV commercials were shown on a large screen behind the stage. The crowd cheered as the year's best spots were played.

The winners made it through a lengthy reviewing process, with over 300 judges voting in two separate rounds. Points were awarded in 46 different categories that measure advertising effectiveness.

Two advertisers also won awards, with Harley-Davidson and Staples inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame for successful advertising campaigns that have extended their brands. Executives from the companies accepted the awards and made speeches discussing their marketing efforts.

The Effie Awards, sponsored by the New York American Marketing Association, were introduced 33 years ago. "It is the most distinctive benchmark for effective advertising," according to NYAMA president Lou Moskowitz. Effies can be distinguished from other advertising awards because they honor advertising effectiveness instead of creativity.

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