Idea Group Evolves Programs

The Boston Idea Group is making changes in its annual Francis W. Hatch Awards program and expanding several of its educational initiatives.

The 42nd annual Hatch Awards, to be held in September, will focus on all aspects of marketing communications, with an added emphasis on interactive, direct and design. This marks a significant change from past years, when the show concentrated almost exclusively on traditional media advertising.

The transformation grew out of increasing frustration voiced by some in the local marketplace with the meager representation of nonadvertising work at the show.

Local companies have become more focused since the late 1990s on interactive, design and direct, said Tim Brunelle, vice president and creative director at Arnold in Boston. Brunelle chairs this year’s Hatch steering committee.

“As much as the community has changed and diversified, the show hasn’t,” said Brunelle. “Ads are important, but everything else is of equal stature.”

Entries are flat at about 1,800 in recent years—a drop from nearly 2,100 in 1996. Also, due to industry consolidation, there have been fewer submissions from traditional shops.

“We’ve seen more from interactive and design because those aspects [of the business] are starting to flourish as the times change,” said Idea Group president Bethany Kendall.

The Idea Group has consolidated ad categories and added new awards in direct, interactive and design. Only one award each will be given for single-page, small space and spread consumer magazine ads, as opposed to separate single-ad and campaign categories. On the flip side, direct has expanded from one category to eight, with separate awards given for public service, postal mail and e-mail campaigns, among others.

Separately, the Idea Group is adding educational and career development programs. The Idea Institute is presenting its first annual Job Summit May 30, targeting unemployed professionals, re-cent grads and those contemplating a career change. The Idea Coalition, formerly the Ad Club Foundation, is also expanding its outreach efforts, including involvement in the Boston Digital Bridge program.