Although I conduct seminars and work with clients throughout the Western U.S., my home office is in Southern Oregon. That’s why in 2010 I decided to create an annual award for local marketing campaigns that reflect my POWERSHIFT MARKETING philosophy.  

Twenty years ago, I was one of a dozen ad executives that launched the Southern Oregon Advertising Club and its SOAR (Southern Oregon Advertising Recognition) program. The club and the annual awards ended in the 90s. I thought it was time to again recognize the high level of creative work being done in Southern Oregon.

In my marketing book www.powershiftmarketingbook.com) I state that successful marketing is based on listening to your customers and embracing change. Great ads inform, persuade and motivate. All the campaigns I selected met my criteria and did a lot more! Congratulations to all the winners and the creative teams that made it happen.


THE MILL CASINO – COIN TOSS CAMPAIGN (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4D9Wn4Y6bBc) – I’ve loved this campaign ever since it first aired in 2009. It shows you can break away from the mind-numbing sameness of most casino TV spots. Instead of using the casino standard – quick cut shots of people gaming, high-powered music, and an over-the-top announcer – these spots take some big risks for big rewards. 

The simplicity and visual beauty of its slow motion coin toss is engaging. It is a great way to present the essence of gambling. Because the visual is simple, viewers can focus on the words, which couldn’t be more on target. People go to casinos for a break from their everyday lives. Sure they want to win, but it’s more about playful fun. These spots capture and deliver this core brand message perfectly. Great job, Ed Baden and the The Mill Casino marketing team. THE CREATIVE TEAM: Creative Director – Bill Bruning, Writer – Palmer Pettersen, Agency – Baden & Company.

SOUTH VALLEY BANK & TRUST – SHOULDER TO SHOULDER CAMPAIGN (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1X4M2CrssY) – Until South Valley updated their logo a few years back, I would be hard pressed to think of a bank with a stodgier image than SouthValley. That’s why this campaign is so outstanding. Not only is the creative superior, the overall campaign is a real game changer for this bank, given its conservative history and approach. Facing growing consumer “unrest” and “distrust” toward banks in general, SouthValley found a way to step up, change, and tell their story in a memorable fashion.  

Marketing Vice President Ann Hall told me that one of the hidden benefits of the campaign was that it helped the bank re-evaluate how they communicate with customers. The result was a new website with improved functionality, a new Facebook page, plus a renewed commitment by everyone to listen and respond to their customers. “The campaign may say ‘Ask Bill, but there are 300 Bills in the bank,” wrote President Bill Castle in a letter to employees. “It will take a commitment as a team of bankers to deliver on our promise.”              

Visually, the spot is unique and well photographed. The brand message is clear and memorable. The campaign does a great job of showing that SouthValley employees stand with their friends and neighbors in this tough economy, and that the bank is there to answer hard questions. Best of all, the campaign has given SouthValley a chance to learn more about their clients, and themselves. THE CREATIVE TEAM: Creative Director – Mathew Bowler, Agency – The Mandala Agency.

BLACK, CHAPMAN, WEBBER AND STEVENS – THE VALUES CAMPAIGN (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fExGEJOdc_U) – This campaign is a true trail blazer. For as long as I can remember, testimonials have been the “Holy Grail” for personal injury lawyers. Since everyone uses them with varying degrees of success and creativity, I guess they work.

But testimonial ads tend to reinforce the negative “ambulance chasing lawyer” image and they do little to communicate a firm’s values or ethics, which should be the deciding factor in selecting a law firm. Personal injury is a world filled with more than car accidents, too. There are many reasons you may seek legal advice: Age discrimination, wrongful dismissal, and domestic violence, to name a few. 

This commercial has just enough facts and figures to give it credibility. The stark black and white approach gives it authenticity. And the message is memorable: “We are a law firm that believes in doing what is right, not just for our clients, but for our community.” Personal injury lawyers talking about values and social issues; wow, this campaign is ground-breaking.

The firm’s legal partners and staff, Steve Medaris (the marketing consultant behind the strategy), and their long-time ad agency Passey Advertising should be very proud of this pioneering effort. THE CREATIVE TEAM: Producer – Dustin Passey, Writer –  Randy Passey, Director – Randy Passey, Production – Passey Advertising.

BELLA UNION RESTAURANT – HISTORY AND FUN CAMPAIGN (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvalBy4-Q88) – Most people go out for dinner for the “experience,” not the food. So why do restaurants insist on showing food? Unless you can afford the tricks of a high-priced food stylist, showing food is filling your marketing plate with a losing meal. That’s why Bella Union owner Jerry Hayes deserves a gold star for his campaign. Finally, a restaurant that understands branding!

This popular restaurant, located in a historical building in Jacksonville(Oregon), has for two decades offered a unique ambience, a great staff, and a commitment to good times and good food. This campaign captures the essence of their brand perfectly. The history, the staff, and the fun all come through in a series of spots that have surprisingly high production values. THE CREATIVE TEAM: Writer – Scott Gee, Producer/Director – Ana Carrion, Production – NBC5 Creative Services, Agency – Carson McHugh Marketing.             

TV STATION KOBI – THE METH PROJECT (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCNORit8MlE) – All TV stations are required by the FCC to dedicate some time to public service. Usually this means running worn-out public service spots after midnight. That is why KOBI-TV’s long-running Southern Oregon Meth Project (started in 2006) is so outstanding.

Not only did it address perhaps the biggest community issue in Southern Oregon, it did it with outstanding creativity, support from an impressive list of local firms, plus a huge multi-year commitment to getting the message out. It has made a real difference.

I’m just one of many that have recognized this campaign. In fact, it has won so many local, state and national awards, my recognition isn’t very important in itself. But recognizing this campaign is important because it shows what you can do with teamwork, superior creative, and commitment from senior management.  So many people were involved in this effort I can’t begin to mention them all. But it certainly begins with station owner Patsy Smullin and General Manager Bob Wise. As the only locally owned station in the market, they have always paid more than lip service to community service. THE CREATIVE TEAM: Creative Director – Scott Gee, Production – NBC5 Creative Services.

ROSEBURG VISITORS AND CONVENTION BUREAU – LAND OF UMPQUA TV CAMPAIGN http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYSK53lOI8g – One of the biggest challenges today is getting someone who is watching TV to go to a website for more information. This “cross-platform” move isn’t easy for a variety of reasons. That’s why I love this campaign. It is the best local effort I’ve seen of a direct connection between a TV spot and a website.

The simple creative approach engages the viewer by having the spokesperson (Amy Saling) share facts about the destination and then ask you a question, which Amy points out that you can “Follow me to the web” to get the answer. Another key to the power of this spot is that the website is on-screen during the entire spot, so you have plenty of time to remember it, or write it down.

The creative heart of this spot is the spokesperson. Amy is approachable and her slightly provocative close to go to the web, “Come on, I’ll be waiting for you,” works well.  Asking viewers to re-connect to a person on the web is clever; regrettably, they didn’t keep the personal approach online. A special landing page with Amy welcoming you would be a great update for 2011. THE CREATIVE TEAM: Creative Director – Kent Rochester, Production – 99 Productions.

COOS BAY-NORTH BEND VISITORS AND CONVENTION BUREAU – CHOWDER BOUNTY (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AReC3oucvgA) – One of the biggest advertising challenges is how to sell image, but also sell a product or service in a TV spot. This commercial made my list because it is a great example of how to solve the image-retail problem successfully. From a pure creative standpoint, these spots are solid. The video is very strong, especially the campfire scene.

But what really makes this campaign “On The Mark” is how they pitched discounts with a website call for action. Once on their website, you saw a great presentation of the restaurants and hotels that offered special deals. Now, co-op TV and websites have certainly been done before, but seldom as well. The campaign graphics, the creative cross-platform integration, production values, it’s a class act all around.

Katherine Hoppe, director of promotion & conventions for the Visitors and Convention Bureau, has been a pioneer in the use of social media in the past. Now she can add being a pro at using traditional media too. THE CREATIVE TEAM: Writer – Katherine Hoppe, Photographer/Editor – Travis Cooper, Production Coordinator – Wayne Van Burger, Production Company – Beaver Hill Productions.

PREMIERWEST BANK  – FACES OF SERVICE CAMPAIGN (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xAL3kqazz0) – While their tag line has stayed consistent, over the years PremierWest has been all over the place with their creative execution. They have made big improvements in the last two years, and this effort hits the mark in a big way. The spots show that a low-cost, simple execution of a good idea can be very powerful.  

Marketing Senior Vice President Ken Wells says the idea behind the spots was to show that PremierWest takes “community service” seriously. So they wanted to show employees who are actively involved in their communities.

The real marketing power of this spot is the “hidden” audience it reaches: PremierWest employees. Living in hard hit communities and facing frustrated customers daily makes for a lot of stress. Is there any better way to honor your employees than by reflecting on their dedication to their communities?

The big reason this spot made my list is that too many businesses forget that in tough times, you have to support your team. PremierWest didn’t forget. THE CREATIVE TEAM: Creative Director/Producer – Scott Gee (KOBI) and Ken Wells, Writer – Scott Gee, Production – NBC5 Creative Services.

 TV STATION KTVL – FREE NEWS (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvphUsk0XhI) – If you haven’t noticed, there is a raging battle going on at your local (and national) media outlets: How should you receive your news and how should you pay for it?  Newspapers, struggling to remain profitable serving a smaller and aging population, have moved dramatically online. In almost every major city, newspaper websites are now the top traffic sites. Not to be outdone, TV stations have also dramatically expanded their online offerings with tons of online video. Everyone has also gone mobile with news apps.

The most recent Southern Oregon salvo in this battle was the Mail Tribune charging for web access. In an instant, TV stations began to promote that their news is always free, no matter where you watch it. This spot presents the “free news” pitch with a fun creative twist. I like its “Leave it to Beaver” style music and pacing. It does a great job of dramatizing how the news world is changing. Now, back to the question: How are we going to pay for the news we love? THE CREATIVE TEAM – Creative Director/Writer/DP/Editor – Mike Gantenbein, Production – KTVL-TV Creative Services.

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