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Madison Avenue in the pines.

They like to stay loose at DVA Advertising in Bend. Even their fax cover sheets border on the lunatic, like the picture of a dance hall girl identified as DVA's office manager and media planner. "Cut along dotted line and attach to your blender for a live performance," reads the caption.

"It's important to keep the energy level going," says Tom Hacker, DVA vice president and co-creative director. His booming laugh makes you want to ratchet down a few notches and level out for a long run of bonhomie.

The energy has paid off for DVA and other Bend advertising agencies who racked up more than half the top honors in this year's annual Newsy Awards from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association.

DVA walked away with three of the top five awards recognizing excellence in newspaper advertising. The competition drew 58 entries by 19 of Oregon's best-known agencies. Bend's Mandala Agency took two awards and Ralston Group nabbed one.

In all, Central Oregon advertising agencies took nine of 17 total awards, quite a coup considering they're playing with the big boys in a league where capitalized billings range in the three-figure millions for top Pacific Northwest agencies with branches in Portland.

Mandala, with billings of $13.5 million, and DVA, with $5.5 million, went toe to toe with big shots Cole & Weber - a giant with capitalized billings of $138 million and a New York parent company - and Borders, Perrin and Norrander, a $40 million San Francisco-owned agency with branches in Portland and Seattle.

Something's happening here, says Scott Reynolds, director of sales for the Oregon Newspaper Advertising Co. "The reason a lot of Bend agencies seem to be floating to the surface, it's a level of creativity that brings a lot of new life, real fresh ideas."

"Small town doesn't have to mean small-time creative," adds Jennifer Ralston Blair, president of Ralston Group. Ralston won the first national television assignment from long-time client Consep/ChemFree by competing with three international firms to launch Bite Blocker, a new insect repellent.

DVA's print ad campaign for Portland Repertory Theater's winter production musical comedy, "Little Shop of Horrors," broke under the tag, "Just Another Family Musical About a Boy and his Trash Talkin', Flesh Eatin', Blood-Slurpin' Plant." Next came "Humans. The Other Red Meat."

That campaign, which also drew notice in Adweek and Media Inc., was a three-time Newsy winner that earned high praise where it really counts - from the client.

"People were actually talking about the ads themselves," says Virginia O'Herin, the Rep's associate producer. "The campaign translated into the highest single ticket sales this theater has ever had. It produced the results we were looking for."

Hacker said the goal was to attract people who usually don't attend the theater, like empty nesters and MTV-weaned professionals. Drumming up clients and attracting top creative talent in a remote location like Central Oregon could be seen as problematic, but the opposite has become true in the past few years.

"We're capable of attracting experienced professionals who are more than willing to get out of the big city," says Brian Bowler, president and chief executive of Mandala. Many of his staff worked on accounts for such top clients as Apple Computer, Porsche and Johnson & Johnson before arriving in Bend.

Hacker says the same is true for DVA, which has become a target for headhunters as well as for creative types in Los Angeles and San Francisco who want out of the city.

"We are amazed at the edge of desperation," he says. Along with the resumes comes a cover letter with the typical plea: "Pay me minimum wage. Just get me out of here."
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Title Annotation:DVA Advertising recognized in 1997 Newsy Awards
Author:Inman, Carla
Publication:Oregon Business
Date:Apr 1, 1997
Words:611
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