2015 Spark! Awards Finalists Announced

Spark AwardsWe are thrilled to announce the finalists for the 2015 Spark! Awards. We received a record number of entries this year, which demonstrates just how talented Charleston area marketers are. The judging was done by board members from the Reno Tahoe Chapter of the American Marketing Association.

The finalists in each category are listed below in alphabetical order. The winner in each category will be announced at the Spark! Awards presentation on Wednesday, March 11 at Rue de Jean in downtown Charleston. The event begins at 6 p.m. with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

Please join us as we honor the best among Charleston’s creative, marketing and PR industries. Tickets are $25 for Charleston AMA members; $40 for non-members. Purchase Spark! tickets online.

Marketer of the Year

Gina Ellis-Strother, Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission

Mary Roberts, Southeastern Wildlife Exposition

Peter Wertimer, Chernoff Newman


Best Commercial Photography

Jason Bennett
Firefly Moonshine & Patrick Davis


Best Book Cover

Advantage Media Group
“Out of the Question”

Bob Durand
“What am I to do now, Mama?”


Best Copywriting

South Carolina Aquarium
“Show Us Your #FishFace”

Town of Mount Pleasant
“Day in the Life”


Best Corporate Blog

Holly Fisher
Allegiance Staffing

Holly Fisher
Traveler of Charleston


Best Direct Mail

Summers Corner

The Brandon Agency
HTC Chocolate Mailer


Best Illustration 

Advantage Media Group
Advantage Magazine

Andrew Barton Design
DryFins Clothing


Best Inbound Marketing

Kiz Studios
Might & Mayhem


Best Logo Design

Bob Durand
Purple Pig Designs

The Brandon Agency
Myrtle Beach Mutiny


Best Outdoor Signage

Holy City Hospitality
Hutson Alley


Best Package Design

BBIG Marketing
Feedstuff Sales


Best Print Ad

Holy City Hospitality
Rue de Jean Savannah

Town of Mount Pleasant


Best Promotional Video

Adam Boozer
Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB

The Brandon Agency

Trident United Way, Chernoff Newman, Lunch & Recess
Trident United Way 2014 Campaign


Best Website

Obviouslee Marketing
Charleston Wine + Food

Obviouslee Marketing
EventHaus Rentals

The Brandon Agency
Williams Knife Co.


Best Re-Branding / Branding Campaign

Obviouslee Marketing
EventHaus Rentals

South Carolina Aquarium
Good Catch


Best Event Promotion

Lowcountry Local First
Buy Local Block Party

Town of Mount Pleasant
2014 Holiday


Best Non-Traditional / Guerrilla Campaign

Lowcountry Local First
Buy Local

The Brandon Agency
Myrtle Beach Mutiny


Best Public Relations Campaign

ByrdHouse PR
Zero George

Touchpoint Communications


Best Social Media Campaign

South Carolina Aquarium
“Show Us Your #FishFace”

Trident United Way
“What Makes My Site Coordinator Experience Sweet”

Digging the Pig Wasn’t Enough

In a dramatic break with tradition, I am about to embark on an exploration of concepts tenuously connected to marketing. I apologize in advance for this transgression.

I’ve been thinking about Piggly Wiggly lately and the limits of positive branding. I loved The Pig. Didn’t everyone? I love my Piggly Wiggly shirt and my Pig tumbler, from which I drink my favorite libations (primarily chocolate milk.) (No, really.) I love my purple Piggly Wiggly winter hat, which features my favorite local mascot, The Pig. I’m big on him.

I like to show visitors Buzzy Newton’s house on The Battery, the one guarded by a pair of stone-carved pig sentinels. David Schools, the last Pig CEO (and provider of all my Pig swag) is a funny and humble guy. When people would ask him his vocation, the CEO of a beloved supermarket chain would say, “I work at The Pig.” I wish him and his family nothing but the best.

I loved Piggly Wiggly’s advertising campaigns too. They were local since forever. That struck a chord, even though I’m not local since forever. The campaign reminded us that The Pig is authentic South. The Pig was there for us – or you, anyway – long before Charleston was fashionable, winning awards and all la-de-da about itself. Back then Piggly Wiggly was providing your blocks of ice, your collard greens, your sweet tea and your lard-encrusted bacon fat sandwiches lathered in pork grease. The advertising campaign almost made us feel obligated to buy groceries there.

That so many Charlestonians feel warmly towards the Pig is a testament to their exquisite branding. Companies spend billions of dollars attempting to coax from consumers a sliver of the affection that Piggly Wiggly generated, mostly by not taking themselves too seriously.

But here’s the thing: my family rarely shopped at Piggly Wiggly.

There wasn’t a Pig near where I lived or worked, but more importantly, Piggly Wiggly stores were too lowbrow for my family. We eat tofu and hummus and free range turkeys in my house. We drink almond milk and munch on carrots that first had to be cut and scraped by someone else, who then rounds the edges to prevent any unfortunate carrot stabbing incidents. That’s not lowbrow. (It is pathetic, but that’s another story.)

Evidently, we weren’t alone, because Piggly Wiggly was forced to sell off most of its properties. It was too small to compete on price with Walmart and just when it tried to pivot to higher ground in the supermarket hierarchy the mortgage brokers and financial services companies generously provided us all with the worst economic crash of our lifetimes.

When Piggly Wiggly Carolina Company began to contract, I could have switched my purchases their way in an effort to help rescue our beloved stores. But I did not, and neither did you.

Because the truth about the marketplace is that it’s all about us, the consumer, not them, the vendor. We buy where it’s convenient and inexpensive, and the experience is positive; how we feel about the company is largely irrelevant. Dan Cathy’s narrow-minded views about my gay friends don’t exactly split my infinitives, but I like the way he Fil-A’s his Chik’n, so that boycott will have to wait until after lunch. Conversely, though I admire Publix’s spectacular culture of philanthropy, there’s a Harris Teeter around the corner from my house. Walking distance, one; admiration, nothing.

So we all respected and esteemed Piggly Wiggly, and sighed with melancholy when it disassembled. But when it came right down to it, price, service and proximity meant a lot more to us than brand love.


–barry waldman

Share Your Expertise for Good!

Do you know how to make the generations take notice – and take action?

Are you a pro at integrating multi-channel communications to amp up results?

Do you have the magic formula for effective cause marketing?

Are you a master at storytelling that commands attention?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, now’s your chance to spread the word! Build your business, your résumé, and your marketing industry cred as a session leader at the AMA’s highly rated national Nonprofit Marketing Conference this July in Washington, DC.

Even if you’re not a do-gooder by title, this is your chance to educate and inspire the nonprofit marketers who strive to make a difference in our communities every day. The conference attracts marketers from around the country in organizations, foundations, and associations both big and small. You’ll find names you recognize, like past attendees from the Red Cross and the USO, as well as community-level nonprofits with equally impactful missions.

The AMA is accepting speaker proposals for this annual conference in the following tracks, which reflect some of today’s hottest marketing topics:

  • Motivating the Generations
  • Amping Up Integrated Communications
  • Making Cause Marketing Work
  • Getting Personal with Storytelling

Learn more about the conference and read the full Call for Entries – including downloading the entry form – at www.ama.org/nonprofit. All proposals must be submitted by February 6.

Questions? Contact the AMA’s Quinn Meyer by email to 2015NonprofitCFP@ama.org or at AMA’s Chicago headquarters directly at (312) 542-9018.

A Brilliant Marketing Scheme

Congratulate me: I’m about to be fabulously wealthy.

I have this foolproof idea to make millions of dollars. It involves a bad movie and some brilliant marketing. I mean evil genius marketing. Check it out.

First, I’ll hire some dopes to make a juvenile flick about . . . whatever – who cares? Humor based on metabolic methane production will abound, as will lower-body sphincters, the modular employment of a 17-word vocabulary and potshots at a Dark Ages dictatorship. Hijinks will ensue even in the absence of a coherent script. (Money-saving device!)

We’ll make sure to blow up some things to quench the reptilian brains of adolescents. Unfortunately, our target audience is prohibited from seeing movie depictions of female lactation producers – a surefire revenue doubler – so we will substitute the southward-facing end of an over-sized northbound male. It’s a pale imitation, but it’s worth some coin.

Okay, whatever whatever. The premise is secondary. Here comes the marketing ploy.

Our ad agency will fabricate a controversy about some element or other in the movie. Something petty and gratuitous. Something that would ordinarily elude the grasp of the mouth-breathers upon whom we depend for ticket sales. (And by mouth-breathers we mean, males.)

On cue, some discredited outfit will protest the movie loudly, organize a boycott, demand an apology in the name of some oppressed, if hardly defined, subset of humanity. We’ll goad them into bomb threats at theaters and the like to spook the suits in corporate into ditching the project.

You see where I’m going? Suddenly, this low-budget celluloid tripe will become a cause célèbre. Intellectuals will rise to defend free speech. Joe and Jane Backporch will rebel against anyone telling them what to watch. Americans of all stripes will link arms to support this beacon of hope in the visual arts.

So, okay, we’ll release it on a limited basis, you know, to keep the demand outpacing the supply. Scarcity will whip the nation into a frenzy. And then the rest of the developed world will hop on board. The Dutch and Danish don’t like being told what free expression to consume, even if it’s fart jokes. Nor do Norwegians, Lithuanians or Sri Lankans. (Maybe Sri Lankans do; I need to brush up on them.)

The free world will beg us to release the film. It’s a film now, you notice? They will demand the right to pay real American cash monies (or Kroners or Litas or Rupee) for a ticket. Take that, ostensible censors! Vanquished by the unquenchable thirst for freedom!

Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton will smile upon us. Better yet, so will Salmon P. Chase and Woodrow Wilson, their denominations being larger. We will transform everyone involved in our project into hero defenders of free expression! And, far more importantly, one-percenters.

God Bless America! And other countries with paying customers.

I’m assembling the detailed plan this weekend and then I’m going to pitch it to…wait, what?




barry waldman

Things I’ve Learned From Retail Marketers:

Things I’ve learned about Christmas gift-giving from retail marketers:

shaving system1. Nothing says “I love you” to the man in your life like a device that scrapes the hairs off his face in a unique high-tech manner. Bonus points if the “shaving system” involves multiple blades, each of which, according to the advertising claims, defies the laws of physics, so that the first blade bends his hair, the second reasons with it to leave, the third starts his car and the fourth cuts the hair below the surface of his skin without in any way harming his epidermis. And the fifth through eighth blades watch and applaud.

2. A reasonable gift option, rather than a sweater or a nice pair of earrings, is a luxury car. Your personal savior particularly appreciates when you mark his joyous birth by obtaining $50,000 of debt. Particularly if it comes with a giant red ribbon. Amen.

3. Your desktop computer, laptop, tablet and smart phone all have lifespans of exactly one year, which runs from December 25 last year to December 24 this year. Isn’t that convenient?

4. The must-have item for this Christmas season is – well, there are actually 23 must-have items, all of which require batteries, which are not included. They’re not even included when you buy the batteries.

5. Women are raccoons. They love shiny things and react irrationally towards them, particularly when placed in a box. (The shiny thing, not the women. Though you never know.) You know what you fellas should do to atone for all your boneheadedness? You should purchase and present to the woman in your life, or to the woman whom you aspire to cajole to join your life, a big shiny geometric shape worth a minimum of Mozambique’s GDP. Special bonus: she’ll cry!

seth rogen6. Seth Rogen stars in a new movie aimed at people with sixth grade educations (most notably, seventh graders).

7. Another actor, occupying similar cubic footage as Seth Rogen but distributed quite differently, stars in a different new movie in which 237 people — nearly all bad guys — die quick but painful deaths. The two movies in question contain roughly equal comedic content.

8. For men, football and red corpuscles occupy places of equal importance with respect to the sustenance of life. Men must watch football at every moment, including a) at their own wedding, b) on the toilet, c) at Uncle Ralph’s funeral, d) at the birth of their children (breathe!) e) and at all other times. Consequently, they must own a phone that can deliver football on demand, which would be always, and a television roughly the dimensions of Ladson.

9. Irrespective of the season, there’s always erectile dysfunction.

–barry waldman

RE Marketing Pros Gather for First Event

One of the goals for the 2014-15 chapter board term was to create a “special interest group” or SIG as they are known in AMA chapter circles. The idea is to create smaller, niches programs that are industry specific. The CAMA board has talked about this concept for awhile and this year decided to try it out. We partnered with AMA members at BoomTown and hosted the first program on Nov. 11. A group of BoomTown employees talked about how to reach your target audience through personas and more than 15 people came out to hear their insights.

We’re excited to announce our first RE Marketing Coffee Talk was a success and we’re planning to continue this series quarterly. Thank you, BoomTown, for working with us. And look for additional industry-specific programs to be added in the future.

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RE Marketing_BoomTown_11.11 (4)









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The Point Is, Content Is King

In the Public Relations course I impose upon unsuspecting, tuition-paying College of Charleston students, we spend part of one class discussing how best to annoy people with awful newsletters that focus myopically on the interests of the organization and inspire the reader to wonder what’s on TV tonight.

One element we address, and by “we” I mean “I, while they attempt to snore silently,” is that shopworn practice of covering in excruciating detail the organization’s annual shindig, complete with photos of the .04% of members/customers/associated personages who actually attended the event at the Comfort Inn outside Trenton, NJ. Oh the fun that was had, particularly when karaoke night in the lounge followed the wine spritzer social!

A Flying Squirrel In A Rolling Donut
The point is that recognition has its place, but either the reader was there, in which case they don’t actually need a synopsis of the scintillating presentation on Efficacy of Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Synbiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Idiopathic Constipation,* or they weren’t, in which case they probably don’t give a flying squirrel in a rolling donut. (Or doughnut; my experiences with this wise, time-honored expression were always oral.)

* Ford AC, Quigley EM, Lacy BE, Lembo AJ, Saito YA, Schiller LR, Soffer EE, Spiegel BM, Moayyedi P. American Journal of Gastroenterol. 2014 Oct; 109(10):1547-61. Epub 2014 Jul 29. Don’t ask me why I know.

A Vast Serengeti of Blather
Which is why this essay is rarely about the previous AMA signature luncheon topic. Either you came and heard the luncheon presentation your own damn self (first Thursday of each month at the Harbor Breeze Restaurant, 176 Patriots Point Road in Mount Pleasant), or you don’t care about that particular topic. Or you care deeply, the way some people care about the civil war in Congo, not that Congo, the other Congo, the one next door to that Congo, the Congo with “Democratic” in its name to serve as definitive proof that it’s a miserably oppressive dictatorship run by a devil worshipper who bites heads off chickens and has a net worth, all of it expropriated from foreign aid, of roughly 1.5 Congos.

If you care that deeply but couldn’t make the luncheon, you might be looking for a pithy summary of the pertinent points, an accurate portrayal of the issue and its recommended solution, a hint of insight, a soupçon of perspicacity. You might be barking up the wrong tree, Lee. This is a blog dedicated, in Seinfeldian earnestness, to expending as many words as possible on a vast Serengeti of blather. You’re 430 words in; had you not figured that out yet?

Mobile Apps and the Men Who Love Them
So it’s worth noting that November’s fascinating (i.e., actually fascinating, not ironically fascinating in any sense) signature lunch presentation on mobile apps — presented by Ben Cash of the web developer Blue Key, and Keith Simmons, of Traveler magazine and related properties – can be boiled down to one simple concept. And Simple is my middle name. Or would be if I could spell it without help.

The concept is this: you can hire Ben and his fine crew to build an app for 25 grand or you can go online and cobble together some sideways app for a fraction of that, but it’s all moot if you don’t have killer content. Download Keith’s app out of Traveler magazine and it tracks your location and relays the closest tourist hotspots, restaurants, hotels and, most importantly, restrooms (see research above.) If you choose something – say you want to be welcomed to Moe’s – it will give you directions right there on your phone. Awesome sauce!

Content is king, Billy Jean, whether you’re talking apps, maps or beer taps. That’s the pithy summary, the hint of insight. Of course, Ben and Keith said it better.

–Barry Waldman

Charleston AMA Volunteers with Movember Charleston

Movember CharlestonVolunteers from Charleston AMA offered to help the men of Movember Charleston with their month-long effort to raise awareness and funds for men’s health. We worked with them to create an Instagram account (@movembercharleston), update the Facebook page (Movember Charleston) and create content for the website and social media. Plus, we helped write and distribute the news release below. Check it out for ways you can help support Movember Charleston.

Movember Charleston Kicks Off Month of Awareness, Fundraising for Men’s Health

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Men all over Charleston are abandoning their razors and growing moustaches during the month of November. It’s all part of Movember Charleston, a local initiative of Movember, the global effort committed to bringing awareness to men’s health.

The month’s activities culminate in a “shaving party” and celebration of how much money was raised for prostate and testicular cancers and mental health issues.

How to get involved:

  • Men — known as Mo Bros — start with a fresh face on Nov. 1 and then set their razors aside for next 30 days.
  • Women — known as Mo Sistas — can help by encouraging the men in their lives to grow a moustache, raise money and serve as team captains.
  • Everyone can help by purchasing a paper moustache for $1 at bars and restaurants around town. Then wear a moustache sticker, take a selfie and post your ‘stache photo to social media using hashtag #movmeberchs.

Funds raised during Movember are used in combating prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems and have supported more than 800 men’s health programs. The goal of this annual effort is to make a significant impact on men’s health through increased understanding of the health risks men face, encouraging men to take action to remain well, and ensuring that when men are sick they know what to do and take action.

The men behind Movember Charleston are Michael Brinson, Vision Software; Chris Brown, Holy City Brewing; Chris Engler, web designer; Sean Ferneau, Lowcountry AIDS Services; Morgan Hurley, Mex 1 Coastal Cantina; Paul Roof, Holy City Beard and Moustache Society; and Jerry Lahm, Park Circle Comics. Additional supporters are Palmetto Brewing Co. and South Carolina Stingrays with marketing services provided by the Charleston American Marketing Association.

Movember Charleston Events

  • Movember Kick-Off Party at Holy City Brewing: 2-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7. Celebrate the launch of Movember Charleston – even if your ‘stache is still small.
  • Mo’ Diggity ‘Stache Bash at DIG in the Park: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14. Pin the moustache game, a giant moustache seesaw plus $2 Budweiser and $4.50 Traveler Brewery beers. Prizes will be awarded for best, worst and creepiest ‘stache.
  • Moustache Competition: 7-11 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22 at Mex 1 Coastal Cantina. Local celebrity judges, including Chris Brown of Holy City Brewing and members of the Holy City Beard and Moustache Society, will pick the winners. Enjoy prizes, an ice luge, live music and awareness and fundraising for prostate and testicular cancer.
  • Grow Out Blow Out Finale for Movember Charleston: 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5 at Palmetto Brewing Co. Contest for best moustaches plus local brews, food and live music.

For more information, visit movembercharleston.com. Also, connect with Movember Charleston on Facebook at www.facebook.com/movembercharleston and on Instagram @movembercharleston. Share moustache photos with hashtag #movemberchs

Charleston AMA Wins Membership Merit Award

Membership Special Merit CEA 2013-14 low resSure, we all know the Charleston AMA Chapter is awesome and, now, we have tangible proof. Like an actual award! Seriously, though, we’re pretty excited to announce that our chapter was awarded a 2013-14 Membership Special Merit Award. The award was a result of the Chapter Excellence Awards (CEA) document we submitted back in September. Our board worked all year to keep track of the chapter’s activities, goals, membership statistics and various other metrics we could submit to the AMA headquarters for judging.

Congratulations to our chapter leaders and our many members and volunteers who make the Charleston AMA Chapter so terrific!

CAMA Board_MeritAward_110614

Members of the Charleston AMA board














Ronii Bartles, 2013-14 chapter president














Charleston Marketers we want YOU!

movember-girl-stacheThe Charleston AMA is starting a small volunteer group of members to support the launch of MOVEMBER Charleston! We need marketers (YOU) to help us with copywriting and social media before the November 1st launch. Show us your ‘stache!

Sign up here today to help with MOVEMBER Charleston! https://ioprun.wufoo.com/forms/movember-charleston-marketing-volunteer/