Advertising Federation's Awards Help Sell Regional Talent


Cigar shoved in the corner of his mouth, finger pointing at you, you and you, Mistah Big gives the order: "Grab your wise guyz and let's pay the Holden Boys a little visit."

The Holden Boys are the owners of Holden Color printing company in Newbury Park.

And Mistah Big was the star of a 1940s-style, gangster-theme, four-part mailer advertising the company's February 1997 open house.

It was an ad campaign that attracted much of the attention at the 1998 Ventura County Advertising Federation awards show in Ventura.

The campaign earned a Best of Show honor for Ventura's Z-Studios and its owner, photographer Chris Zsarnay, as well as an Addy Award for printing for Holden Color and an Addy Award for design for the James Graca Design Group of Ventura.

Other top winners in the 24th annual awards program included a Best of Marketing for Barbara Brown Marketing & Design for a calendar, poster and CD created for Ventura Printing; a Best of Interactive award for Digital Insight for a campaign created for the Spokane Railway Credit Union; a Best of Television honor for Wiley & Associates for a campaign created for Big Sisters of Los Angeles; and a Best of Radio Award for Charles & Associates Advertising for its work for client Personnel Strategies.

More than 20 Addy Awards also were presented, with the winners advancing to the American Advertising Awards' District 15 competition, competing against ad clubs throughout Southern California and Nevada. Winners of the regional awards will advance to the national level.

"The truly astonishing thing about the Ventura County area is the absolutely remarkable range of [advertising] talent we have," said Karen Cook, president of the Ventura County Advertising Federation and partner in Cook/Collins & Associates.

"We have people in this area who are servicing national clientele--it doesn't have to come out of L.A.," Cook said. "We are capable of doing work in this area that is on any par and in all areas--printing design, radio talent, writers."

Zsarnay, of Z-Studios, said that when he graduated from the Brooks Institute in the mid-1980s, he was told to head to Los Angeles to set up shop. But he decided that Ventura County would be fine.

"I was told I needed to go to L.A. to survive and to create a business, and I refused," he said. "I think we have raised the level of work around here in the last 10 years and we do get noticed by people in L.A."

Debi Hammond of Kodiak Communications in Moorpark said the annual awards program also helps raise an overall awareness of the regional talent among others in the local industry.

"At Kodiak Communications, we often look to the Addy Awards to look for production companies and photographers. It's a networking opportunity--there's a lot of creative talent," said Hammond, whose firm won four awards, including an Addy for its magazine campaign for Dogloo, maker of igloo-shaped doghouses.

"Even as a full-service advertising agency we don't have it all under one roof," she said. "What Ventura County people have done is utilize talent within the county."

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