First came the new brand look. Then came the awards.

A year and a half ago I had a very big lunch in a very small town. Johnson Creek, Wisconsin has a population of just 2,738. But Johnson Creek sits halfway between Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin. Which is why I met Anne Norman there for lunch at Hiway Harry’s. Conceptually and architecturally, the restaurant lies halfway between a Rain Forest Cafe and a Frank Loyd Wright-inspired supper club. Which is a very unique space to occupy.

Anne Norman

Anne Norman had just recently been named Chief Marketing Officer of the University of Wisconsin Credit Union. She arrived at the credit union after crushing it for such great brands as Culver’s restaurants and American Family Insurance. Our mutual friend Sue Northey told us that we needed to meet each other, and helped arrange the Hiway Harry’s adventure.

Anne2
One Anne Norman and a microphone. #whereitsat

When we met, Anne was looking for an agency to help her make the UW Credit Union marketing as great as the UWCU member experience. And members looooove the UW Credit Union. I know. I became a member my third day on campus as a student at The University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Anne and I had a great conversation. We found that we were totally aligned on our approach to strategy, creativity and process. We laughed a lot. And we left Hiway Harry’s excited to work together. #suewasright

Making It Happen

My advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, quickly got to work on repositioning and rebranding the UW Credit Union. Then, on February 14th, 2019 we revealed the new look and the new work at the UWCU’s leadership conference at the beautiful, Frank Loyd Wright designed Monona Terrace Conference Center, in Madison. I wrote about the experience in A fresh new look for one of the most loved brands in Wisconsin.

Addy Awards

Exactly 1 year and 1 day later, Anne and our teams were back at the Monona Terrace in Madison for the local Addy Awards. To be clear, I am not an advertising awards person. I prefer to avoid the conflict of interests between creating work to drive results for your clients and creating ads to win awards. I also prefer to avoid dressing up altogether.

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Me and Anne, ready for the award show to begin. Noting that this place was no Hiway Harry’s.

But in this case, Anne Norman knew the work we created was really good. Our key  performance indicators (KPIs) told us the campaign was working as anticipated for UW Credit Union. So Anne wanted to see how the creative stacked up against other work at the Addy Awards.

The Entries

We entered a few billboards and a couple of radio spots in the awards show. Soon I was notified that we had won 5 awards. We were also strongly encouraged to attend the show. And to bring Anne Norman, her trusty sidekick Justine Kessler, and their husbands Devlin and Mike. So we did.

Winning

We knew which entries had won something. But we didn’t know what they had won. Kind of like when the Dad from A Christmas Story receives his fragile crate. Except when we busted our crate open we didn’t find a leg lamp.

Radio

The first entry to win an award was a radio commercial called Cool Mom. It won gold. Which apparently is good. It’s a cute spot that was fun to make. And always fun to hear on the radio.IMG_2019 2

The winning radio commercial

Billboards

Or No
In the Out of Home category, this ad won a Gold. The ‘or no’ ending is a funny thing people in Wisconson commonly say. Have you heard someone say that, or no?

 

Blank roadside billboard on bright sunny blue sky day

This billboard won a silver. For those of you who are geographically challenged, Milwaukee lies on the western shore of Lake Michigan (which is a huge lake that not even Sarah Palin can see across). This enormous body of fresh, unsalted and shark-free water sucks the heat out of the air all spring long to raise the temperature of the lake. Leaving communities along the lake cooler until the water temperature stabilizes in early June.
mke-009429-b_campaign_uwcreditunionfinancial_2019-07-02_113909114 (1)
This ad also won an Addy Award too. In Wisconsin brats rhyme with knots, and are german sausages. Not poorly behaved children. Oh, and they are served on rolls.

But wait! There’s more!

We also entered the 3 billboards above with the additional billboard below in an outdoor campaign entry called ‘Hello Milwaukee!’ It won a Judge’s Choice Award. Which meant that one of the 3 judges felt that this was the best thing in the entire show.

Blank roadside billboard on bright sunny blue sky day
In the Metro Milwaukee area we have a lot of funny city names. Many stem from Native American names. And you can open a UW Credit Union checking account from home in any of these Aukees.

Judge’s Choice

Here’s what Judge Carl (no relation to Judge Judy) had to say about our campaign. (My apologies if he is actually Judge Karl.)

Thanks!

I appreciate the fact that The Weaponry and UW Credit Union won these awards. But we didn’t need an awards show to know the work was good. We know that the ads work. They grab attention. They make people giggle. They are remembered. And they have helped the UW Credit Union quickly drive a XX% increase in awareness in Milwaukee. Which nailed our goal. (I put XX because I didn’t ask for permission to share the actual number. But notice that there are 2 Xs and not just one! Go UWCU!)

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Me, Sarah Disanza, Justine Kessler and Anne Norman, staying gold, like Pony Boy.

Roll The Credits!

Thanks to our Weapons Kristyn Lilley who designed the UW Credit Union brand look. And to Kevin Kayse, the writer who helped bring these adds to life. Thanks to Simon Harper for writing a great brief with a British accent. And thanks to Anne Norman for meeting me at Hiway Harry’s. For hiring The Weaponry. And for both demanding and approving great creative work.

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Key Takeaway

Awards are nice. But they should never drive the work. In advertising the only thing that really matters is whether or not the work helps your clients grow. But if the work drives growth, like it has for the UW Credit Union, the awards are a nice cherry on top. Thank you to everyone at UW Credit Union for allowing us to join your team. We look forward to great things ahead!

Published by

Adam Albrecht

Adam Albrecht is the Founder and CEO of the advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry. He believes the most powerful weapon on Earth is the human mind. He also authors two blogs: The Perfect Agency Project and Dad Says Daughter Says, a Daddy-Daughter blog he co-writes with his 12 year old daughter Ava. Adam can be reached at adam@theweaponry.com.

6 thoughts on “First came the new brand look. Then came the awards.”

  1. “Awards are nice. But they should never drive the work.“..I agree 100%! The additional recognition for your client is a bonus. Congrats to both The Weaponry & UW Credit Union!

    Liked by 1 person

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