44th Annual Clio Awards Begin Beachside

MIAMI Under a blanket of heat and humidity, the 44th annual Clio Awards kicked off yesterday at the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla., with a talk about cult brands and a panel discussion on up-and-coming directors.

Douglas Atkin, chief strategy officer at Merkley Newman Harty & Partners in New York, spoke on “Cult Brands: How to Get Inside the Hearts of Consumers.”

“The whole idea is to find out what makes people attracted to cults and religious organizations and apply that learning to brands,” Atkin said in an interview before the talk, which stemmed from research he conducted for an upcoming book.

Atkin, who prior to joining Merkley in 1998 started Wells Rich Greene’s account planning department in 1994, studied a wide swath of communities and cults, from Christian Scientists to Deadheads and even members of the Marines to glean insight from their sense of community. Creating an ideology or belief system and sponsoring communal events are two ways of creating a cult or cult brand, according to Atkin.

“The vast majority of people who join cults are like you and me,” Atkin said. “They’re not abnormal at all. They’re ordinary people attracted to brands.”

Atkin’s talk was followed by a presentation by Shoot magazine, a sponsor of the Clios. Titled “The Next Generation: A Global View of the Industry’s Most Promising New Directors,” the presentation featured 20 directors from countries that ranged from Japan to Germany to the U.S. It was followed by a panel discussion with several of the directors, along with producers and agency creatives.

Print, innovative media and Internet Clio Awards will be given out tonight, while TV and radio honors will be awarded on Tuesday night.