A longtime symbol of local advertising excellence made its last appearance at this year’s Richmond Show, but not before The Martin Agency walked off with a bunch of the heaviest ones.
More than 60 of the coveted cannonball trophies that for years have been doled out at the annual awards show were presented Thursday evening, via a virtual event that featured a pre-recorded program. Martin was the big winner of the night, taking three of this year’s best-in-show awards.
But this year’s cannonballs are now collector’s items, as the Advertising Club of Richmond, which puts on the awards, decided to do away with the design due to a connection to Richmond’s Confederate history.
Club President Vera Magdeeva, whose one-year term concluded with Thursday’s event, said the cannonball design was introduced 30 years ago when the awards were held at Tredegar Iron Works, a major supplier of cannonballs and other artillery for the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
“While a cannonball is not specifically associated with just the Confederacy, the symbol in Richmond does have a lot of emotional connections to that time,” Magdeeva said in an email.
Describing the club as fostering “a tight-knit and socially responsible creative community,” Magdeeva added, “We feel that we have a responsibility to not be tied to anything that one of our members or potential members might feel is hurtful.
“As Richmond and the advertising industry evolve and so does the Ad Club, it’s important for the Richmond Show and, by extension, its coveted award to also evolve.”
The pewter cannonball replicas, sized according to significance, will be replaced next year with a new award, with the club planning to put out a call for proposals from the community to determine a new design.
This year’s awards, recognizing work in 2020, were presented in categories such as advertising, design, interactive, production and student campaigns.
Non-competitive recognitions also were presented, such as the honorary title of Ad Person of the Year, this year awarded to Jessica Collins, assistant professor in the Robertson School of Media and Culture at VCU.
Martin’s three best-in-shows were in the advertising, design and production categories, respectively for its “Bundling Made Easy” campaign spots for GEICO, a line of rally caps designed for a Buffalo Wild Wings campaign, and a mockumentary clip for Buffalo Wild Wings starring rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
Scott’s Addition agency Yebo won the interactive best-in-show for its “Stories Over Stigma” campaign for the Virginia Department of Justice. The campaign and its website, where stories about substance use disorder can be posted and shared, also won silver cannonballs in the advertising and interactive categories, respectively.
Best-in-show in the student competition went to VCU Brandcenter’s David Ligon. His Alcatraz Island tourism campaign won in the integrated campaign category.
Martin and Yebo also picked up gold cannonballs in different competitive categories, with Martin winning five and Yebo winning one. Other gold recipients included Trailhead Creative and Overcoast.
The show’s three judges were Allison Ceraso, president of New York agency Havas Health Plus; Leneil Roderique, senior creative with Vice Media Group; and Ron Huey, chief creative officer of Atlanta agency Huey + Partners.
This year’s Women in Advertising Scholarship was awarded to Emily Duong, a mass communications major at VCU with a concentration in creative advertising. Corey Hambly received the Excellence in Creative Education Scholarship, awarded to Brandcenter students.
Local voice actor Paul Schmidt provided narration for the video, which was produced by the club and production studio Alice Blue. Overcoast handled music and sound. Ardyn Granger, an account manager with VDX.TV, was announced as the club’s next president. Tiffany Boggs will succeed Granger as vice president.