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Innovation & Startups

Pittsburgh marketing guru Dan Droz rocks the AMA awards

“Effective marketing campaigns personify the value of a product or company in some way,” says Pittsburgh marketing guru Dan Droz. “It’s a gift that keeps on giving.”
The founder of the downtown boutique firm Droz and Associates is obviously on to something. Last Friday the firm rocked the local American Marketing Association’s (AMA) 6th Annual Marketer of the Year Celebration, capturing no less than seven of the 10 awards presented.
The AMA awards recognize the top campaigns in the region for creativity and successfully strategy in 10 categories--including education, consumer services and technology. For the 32-year-old firm, it was a slam dunk.
“It was ‘oh no, not Meryl Streep again!'” Droz admits.
How do they do it? Take the Pittsburgh-based ProGrass campaign. When the makers of artificial turf for stadiums and sports facilities wanted to take on the mega-brand AstroTurf, Droz and Associates created a company mascot, a bauble-headed rhino named Rocky with a great physique.
Not only did the campaign put ProGrass on the artificially turfed map, but business shot up more quickly than real grass. The company could barely keep up with demand.
“It’s not about being different, it’s about being meaningfully distinctive,” says Droz. “Coming up with something that actually touches people. That’s the hard part.”
Droz has handled strategy and branding campaigns for more than 500 companies during his years in the business. He lectures and consults around the world, too, and has won numerous awards. But marketing wasn’t his first career. Droz was an adjunct professor at CMU, a position he held for 17 years until he retired.
He made a mark in this field as well. During the 1980s, he co-founded the Interdisciplinary Product Development Program at CMU, the first school in the country to offer a program that brought three distinct disciplines together: engineering, marketing and design.
Today, interdisciplinary programs are standard practice.
The recent spate of awards not only gave the firm seven awards, but a Grand Marketer of the Year nod for a campaign that expanded hospital linen company CleanCare. The campaign included the clever placement of humorous slogans on the company’s fleet of trucks.
Another winner was the Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures campaign, which publicized the non-profit speakers series through large banners that were displayed across an Oakland construction site.
“Within three weeks, the series was sold out,” says Droz. “Now there’s a waiting list for tickets that were readily available a year ago.
“Part of what we’re doing is making an emotional connection,” he adds. “When we’re personifying a brand, we’re helping people to make an emotional connection. Creating light, designing with a sense of humor. “
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Dan Droz, Droz and Associates
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