Blazing through Award Season

emily easley

Emily Easley
Account Director

Jun 11, 2015 | Creative, News

marcom awards

AT THIS YEAR’S Spokane Regional MarCom Association’s Spark Awards Ceremony, DH won five awards, two of which were the top honors of the night.

Merit Award | PRIDE Prep Logo
Awarded to PRIDE Prep and DH

pride prep logo

We created a logo for PRIDE Prep, the first public charter school in Spokane, that played with the word “pride” by depicting a pride of lions. We created the logo to evoke the feeling of a safe, nurturing place to grow and learn. The lions (like the school) are forward-looking as they progress from a passive to active state. We used a kaleidoscope of solid and overlapping colors to represent the unique quality of each student.

Excellence Award + The Dussault Community Impact Award | 125 Years and Counting
Awarded to Avista Corp., Klündt | Hosmer, DH, and Hanna & Associates

blaze avista

Photo credit: Rogue Heart Media

The Dussault award is awarded to a high-scoring campaign that had an immense impact on the Spokane community. For Avista’s 125thanniversary, the organization focused on celebrating partnerships of the past and energizing people for the future. We helped Avista create a series of videos and launch events with KSPS. We also helped with the Huntington Park dedication event, which was considered Avista’s most successful public event in the company’s history.

Excellence Award + The Blaze Award | 20 for 20 Giveback Campaign
Awarded to CU Direct, DH and WebMistress

CU direct

The Blaze Award is the best of show award for campaigns. DH developed a campaign to celebrate our client CU Direct’s 20th anniversary. Last week, Andrei and I presented background about the campaign at MarCom.You can see our full PowerPoint here. But I’ll give you the highlights:


CU Direct is the nation’s leading technology provider of automotive, lending and strategic software solutions to credit unions and auto dealers. In late October of 2014, CU Direct asked us for ideas on how they could celebrate and honor their 20th year in business.

We wanted to develop a campaign that would use the anniversary to make an impact with CU Direct’s audiences. After brainstorming some good (and many bad) ideas, we came up with 20 for 20 Giveback Campaign: celebrating 20 years of success in their industry by donating $20,000 to a Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospital. CMN had been a longtime beneficiary of CU Direct and many credit unions across the US, so it was a natural pick for their organization.

With the general concept of the $20,000 donation in mind, we then thought, OK, how do we make this different? Anyone can donate $20,000, so how do we stand out? We came up with the concept of an online voting contest where credit unions’ customers, as well as the general public, could vote for the CMN hospital they believed deserved the donation. People could vote up to once per day, starting on Giving Tuesday, December 2, through the 22. After 20 days we would tally up the votes and the winner would emerge.

Outlining our strategy was crucial to getting CU Direct leadership on board. We were fortunate to have leadership that saw the vision of this campaign—thinking beyond just celebrating themselves—and that were willing to donate $20,000 at the conclusion.


Next came development of the creative assets. Our advice: Don’t be singular in your approach. Implement a mix of strategies across multiple channels. Especially for a campaign, like ours, that takes place in December—a noisy time of the year for giving. Using an integrated mix of tactics, we found ways to tie into existing media buys and pull in partners to help spread the word. We combined social media, a new microsite, digital advertising, media relations, and an e-mail campaign.


With creative ready to roll, the campaign started without a hitch. That said, we certainly faced some challenges. First, early leaders among the CMN hospitals removed the incentive to vote for other hospitals. After monitoring the issue, we asked leadership to donate another $20,000, which would be divided into four $5,000 donations to the second, third, fourth and fifth place runner-ups. This was a total game-changer. Voting picked back up, and we saw a huge boost in engagement on social media.

Second, cyber attacks happen. On the last day of voting, we had two hospitals neck-and-neck for the first place $20,000 donation. With only hours left to vote, the website hosting company had a sudden and unexpected Distributed Denial of Service attack, knocking out all of the websites they manage, including the 20 for 20 campaign site. Hospitals, credit unions, media and the public were in panic, asking how they could cast votes. In quick time, we worked with leadership to come up with a great solution. In the end, CU Direct donated $20,000 to both of the top hospitals, and still donated another $5,000 to each of the 4-runner up hospitals. In total, CU Direct donated $60,000 to six hospitals across the US.


Even with challenges, we’re happy to report that the campaign was a great success! We surpassed our original goals and objectives, receiving 2.1 million page views to the campaign website, 350,000 votes, over 774,000 Twitter mentions, and over 270 news stories from national, regional and industry media.

In the end, if you can only remember three things from this campaign, make it these:

  1. Think beyond your organization. Ask yourself, How can I use my company’s anniversary to make an impact with my audience?
  2. Think integrated and be consistent. Don’t be singular in your approach; implement a mix of strategies across multiple channels.
  3. Be flexible. Like DDoS attacks, bad things can happen to good campaigns. Learn to be flexible and work through it!
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