Announcing the 2017 Spark! Award Finalists

Once again, we are blown away by the incredible work of Charleston’s marketing and creative community. This year, 164 entries were submitted for consideration in the Spark! Awards, more than in any previous year.

How were the entries judged? To ensure fairness and objectivity in judging, the entries were independently evaluated by the board of directors of our sister chapter, AMA Reno-Tahoe, with assistance from the past president of AMA Tampa Bay, Greg Millman. We thank these dedicated individuals for their time and consideration!

Winners will be announced at the 2017 Spark! Awards Celebration on March 9 at Harborside East in Mount Pleasant. The event includes heavy hors d’oeurves and an open bar, and the emcee will be Travis Rice of News 2. This year’s theme is Mad Men, and 1960s costumes and flair are encouraged! Tickets are $35 for AMA members and $45 for non-members. Learn more or buy tickets at


Best Print Ad

2017 Campaign Ads, Charleston Wine + Food

Carriage Properties Sallie Ad, Lily Magazine

This is Crowdfunding, Blackbaud


Best Illustration

100 Days of Worry, Andrew Barton Design

Luxury Simplified Illustration, Luxury Simplified

Monsters in Charleston, Timothy Banks


Best Promotional Video

Blackbaud Corporate Brand Video, Blackbaud

Charleston County Business Concierge Series: The CodeLynx Experience, Charleston County Economic Development

Equifax ACA Essentials Solution Promo & Testimonial Video, Equifax and Hed Hi Media

The Normal Brand Video, The Brandon Agency

Steps of Heroes, Moondog Animation Studio


Best Logo Design

Charleston Airport, Chernoff Newman

Fuel in Motion, Fork & Knife

Lulu McClain, Fork & Knife

Owl & Elephant, Bob Durand Design


Best Direct Mail

Charleston Parks Conservancy, Obviouslee Marketing

Fork & Knife Holiday Coffee, Fork & Knife

Membership Renewal Campaign, South Carolina Aquarium


Best Copywriting

Allison Ramsey Architects, JTE Marketing Group

Carriage Properties Sallie Ad, Lily Magazine

Root ‘Cause, Blackbaud


Best Outdoor Signage

A+E Digital Printing, Obviouslee Marketing

Sabal Homes, SQ FT Sequentials, Trio Solutions

Charleston Wine + Food Poster, Andrew Barton Design

You Otter Come Visit!, South Carolina Aquarium


Best Website

Experience Mount Pleasant, Town of Mount Pleasant

Traveler of Charleston Website, Traveler of Charleston

WED, Fork & Knife


Best Collateral

2016 Annual Report, South Carolina Aquarium

The Art of Porgy and Bess, The Gibbes Museum of Art

#NoFilter Nonprofit, Blackbaud

QEI Security Brochure, QEI Security

War Pigs, Fork & Knife


Best Corporate Blog

Luxury Simplified Blog, Luxury Simplified

npENGAGE, Blackbaud

Sabal Homes, Trio Solutions


Best Corporate Identity Package

Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact, Blackbaud

Charleston Airport, Chernoff Newman

St. Andrew’s Church, Andrew Barton Design


Best Commercial Photography

Charleston Airport Redesign, Foxworthy Studios

Footlight Players Theatre, Foxworthy Studios

Hook+Gaff, The Brandon Agency


Best Book Cover

The Cuttlefish Marketer, Advantage Media Group

disTRACKted, Advantage Media Group

The Eyes Have It – Julie Allan, Berge Design

God Bless Crime, Advantage Media Group

Inclusion, Advantage Media Group

The S.N.O.B. Experience, Advantage Media Group


Best Event Marketing

bbcon, Blackbaud

Charleston Wine + Food “Gastronaut”, Obviouslee Marketing

Syntax Conference, Chris Edington


Best Non-Traditional Marketing

Fresh on the Menu Wall, Chernoff Newman

Here’s to You, Blackbaud

Homeless Awareness Campaign, Meadors


Best Public Relations

Charleston Fashion Week, Touchpoint Communications

Colonial Lake Grand Opening, H.A.F. Creative

Maxtrix Kids Rooms Opening, H.A.F. Creative


Best Rebranding

Cedar Rowe Partners, Fork & Knife

Luxury Simplified, Luxury Simplified

Meadors Inc., Meadors


Best Social Media Campaign

Harry Barker 20th Anniversary, Harry Barker

March to 200, South Carolina Aquarium

Save Our Nurses, The Brandon Agency

#TurnYourTuesday on #GivingTuesday, Blackbaud


Best Facebook Presence

Charleston Wine + Food, Charleston Wine + Food

South Carolina Aquarium, South Carolina Aquarium

Traveler of Charleston, H.A.F. Creative


Best Instagram Presence

ExperienceMP, Town of Mount Pleasant

Traveler of Charleston, H.A.F. Creative

Theodora Park, Sarah Lovingood and David Rawle

The Local Palate, The Local Palate


Best Twitter Presence

Blue Acorn, Blue Acorn

Lowcountry AIDS Services, H.A.F. Creative

mtPleasantBiz, Town of Mount Pleasant

Traveler of Charleston, H.A.F. Creative


2017 Marketer of the Year

Elizabeth Boineau

Philip Cheves

Danielle Manopoli


Congratulations to all the finalists! Don’t forget to buy your tickets to the awards celebration on March 9 at

3 Common Mistakes Marketers Make When Creating a Facebook Video

Facebook is quickly becoming a video first platform. In fact, in lab testing, the social media platform found that participants gaze five times longer at video content than at static content in their newsfeed. That statistic alone makes it obvious that if you want success on social media, you have to start posting videos. But you need to think strategically before you press record. Learn from these common mistakes to save you time and money when creating a Facebook video.

Boring First Three Seconds

Did you know the endless scroll of social media is harder to resist than cigarettes and alcohol? There’s a good reason for this. Scrolling and searching triggers our brain to produce dopamine, which is the information seeking hormone. That’s why it’s easy for some people to spend hours on Facebook- scrolling is literally addictive. If you want to jar someone out of the hypnotic call of the scrolling feed, your video better be interesting from the start.

If you were creating a narrative for television, or a video to show potential clients in your conference room, you might create a more complicated story arc that eases your viewers into the main idea of your video. But for Facebook? The complete opposite applies. The start of the video needs to have your most powerful soundbite or your most interesting visual right up front.

If putting your best at the start makes your audience ask the question, “Wait, what’s going on?” all the better! Answer that question at second 10. They’ll stick around to find out.

Not considering mobile consumption

According to Facebook’s stats, over 65% of video watched on Facebook was watched on a mobile device. So, it’s obvious that you really need to consider the user experience of your video on mobile for your video to have any sort of success.

What does that mean? First of all, it means that audio is user initiated. People may be browsing Facebook on their lunch in the office, or in a crowded cafe. They’re not going to dig through their bag and grab their earphones just to watch your video. Instead of relying on your user to be interested enough to watch with audio, add captions to your video. That will make sure they’ll watch- and understand what’s going on without the sound.

The second consideration for mobile video is its format. With Facebook, square and horizontal formats work best. Vertical video is still posted in a rectangular player, making the resulting video small and hard to watch in the feed.

Content that Isn’t Relatable

Facebook is all about showing others what you care about and what you’re interested in. In a way, when people share something, they’re adding that content to their self-image. Your video needs to speak to your audience in a way that makes them want to associate with it.

Another technique to making a sharable video is to make something especially emotional. People love to come to Facebook to laugh or cry, and they want everyone else to join in. This may be hard, depending on your business, but see how creative you can be with it.

Maybe start with something inspirational, like your company values. Cricket Wireless partnered with Green Buzz Agency and Upworthy to create this Facebook video- and it got over 17M organic views. It sticks to one of Cricket’s brand values- Random Acts of Kindness. By staying away from a promotion, and instead focusing on telling a compelling story, Cricket had major success. In fact, this was the most viewed branded video for the month of November 2016, according to Brandtale. You can read the full video case study here.


In the end, to make Facebook video worthwhile, you need to think in terms of native advertising. You don’t want to stick out by putting TV commercial content on Facebook- you need to fit in with the user generated videos that your audience sees every day. If you make something exciting, fit in the right format, and keep it sharable, you’ll be off to a good start to rack in those views and ramp up that watch time report.

todA leading voice in digital video content, Tod Plotkin is Principal and Founder of Green Buzz Agency, where he oversees video content creation for iconic advertising campaigns, including Ad Council’s #1 Campaign: Love Has No Labels. Additionally, His agency created the most viewed/shared branded video on Facebook in November 2016 for Cricket Wireless + Upworthy. Tod is (2x) Gold Stevie Award Winner, Emmy winner for best short format content and Webby Honoree in online video category.