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Jackson agency takes top honor for TV ad

Maris, West & Baker wins big against big tobacco

Big tobacco brought a big award to Jackson advertising agency Maris, West & Baker, which recently won national kudos for a 60-second television advertisement.

The agency won a national Addy award from the American Advertising Federation (AAF) for “Prisoner,” an ad set in the year 2070 in a high-security prison. The ad depicts a high-profile tobacco executive imprisoned for the deaths of millions of people hooked on tobacco — 11,000 deaths per day as revealed by the ad.

The advertisement, which first aired on Sept. 20, 1999, was created for The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi. The ad won Best of Show Overall in February at the Jackson Addys and again in Memphis at the regional Addy competition.

“Prisoner” falls in the public service category, probably the toughest category to capture an award, said agency president and CEO David Kimball. Like Maris, West & Baker, competitors in the public service category had more creative freedom than those ads produced for the private sector, which are subject to opinion by boards and other company higher-ups.

Anti-tobacco ads have been done in many states, said Kimball, so Maris, West & Baker decided to take a pioneer approach — customer replacement — in creating an ad for Mississippi.

“Do you realize why tobacco companies market to you? The reason is because their customer base is dying off, and they have to replace them,” explains Kimball.

Bottom line, he adds, the campaign is raising awareness among Mississippi teens about the dangers of using tobacco. “That, in a nutshell, is what this campaign is all about.”

In addition to winning for “Prisoner,” the agency also received Citations of Excellence in the national competition for the 30-second radio spot “Mr. Warhead” (Public Service Division, Electronic Media) and the “Prisoner,” “Mr. Warhead” and outdoor campaign (Public Service Division).

Maris, West & Baker staff involved in the ad’s creation were Lou Ann Wilks, account executive; Eric Hughes, creative director; Marc Leffler, writer; and Kelsey Rickenbaker, art director. The ad was produced in Los Angeles.

According to the AAF, “Prisoner” is the only anti-tobacco ad to ever win a national Addy. The 30-year-old Maris, West & Baker has won two other national Addys in the past.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Kelly Russell at mbj@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018.

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