NYT Digital Deals Surround Awards

To promote Surround Sessions, New York Times Digital held a contest, offering a $50,000 prize and $25,000 worth of free advertising to the creator of the best Surround Session campaign. Yesterday, NYTimes.com awarded the top prize to Tribal DDB/Dallas, which entered a Surround Session for Aa.com, the Web site of American Airlines.

The Surround Session, which includes 12 units that appear on six successive pages, is entitled "The Changing Face of Travel." It advertises the airlines's new one stop check in service at airport kiosks.

"Post 9/11, the travel industry has been hurt and impacted," says DDB's creative director Scott Biggers. "There's been much to do about security hassles and the difficulty of travel. But we see the glass as half full."

The campaign focuses on the airport of the future, in which travel will become easier with fast check in at the kiosks. Many of the units show travelers from inside the kiosk with emotional words that capture their reactions, from "puzzled" to "enthused" as the they learn more about the kiosks. On two of the pages, the graphic units are augmented by crowd sound effects "to emphasize you're in an airport," Biggers says.



The first page features three units, two banners and a Skyscraper. Succeeding pages feature one or two units of different sizes. The last page features a pay off with a mouseover that takes visitors to a box that offers click through to another site for more information on the kiosks.

The surround session was created by a four person team that included Biggers, two artists and a writer, he says.

Craig Calder, vice president of marketing for New York Times Digital, says DDB won because its entry was breakthrough creative that did the best job of utilizing the medium. It can be seen at www.adinnovationawards.com/gallery/professional.jsp along with some of the other entries. The idea is to show viewers examples of the best Surround Sessions so they may decide to use them, he says.

Surround Sessions were created by NYTimes.com in November 2001 as a new ad model that allows advertisers to run exclusive ads throughout a user's site visit, with a succession of ads on every page.

DDB won $25,000 worth of free surround sessions, but Biggers says he doesn't know if it will use them to run the winning ad. "We approached American after we created it and they had no hand in it," he says. "They've seen it and they like it a lot but we don't know if they want to use it."

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