Down at Hatch

Despite category additions and other changes designed to build excitement, entries are down 15 percent this year for the upcoming 42nd annual Francis W. Hatch Awards, the region’s premier creative showcase.

Responsibility for the withered number of entries—1,321 in 2002 compared with approximately 1,800 in each of the past few years—is due mainly to the slumping economy and continued thinning of local agency ranks, said Gina Caruso, who runs Hatch for the Boston Idea Group.

Despite fewer entries, the number of awards scheduled to be doled out has grown to 357. The increase is attributed to the addition of new categories, such as direct marketing, design and integrated campaigns, Caruso said. Last year, 261 prizes were awarded; in 2000, only 173 prizes were presented.

“We’ve tweaked the show to [contain] more drama leading up to the Best of Show presentation,” said Caruso.

“Evolve, Mutate, Hatch” is the theme of this year’s show, scheduled for Sept. 19 at Boston’s John Hancock Hall.