Ad magician

Susan Ewing project wins gold award in national ADDYs

By James Dowd

Published in the Commerical Appeal, JUNE 7, 2011

As the self-described "left-brain factor" at the Tactical Magic brand identity firm, Susan Akil Ewing characterizes her role as offering a strategic balance between the creative and practical sides at the agency.

But since she joined the firm as a principal late last year, Ewing has been busy conjuring some magic of her own and recently received industry acclaim for her efforts.

A logo campaign for PetSmart Charities that Ewing directed won a gold award at the American Advertising Federation's ADDY Awards handed out last Saturday in San Diego.

Tactical Magic was the only Memphis agency to win an award in the national competition, and this marked the sixth time in the last five years that the firm has been so honored.

"It's really incredible to work with such a talented team, and then to see that hard work rewarded in this way is very gratifying," Ewing said. "We're a small company that does big things. It just doesn't get any better."

Winning top prize in the logo category for the "People Saving Pets" campaign was icing on an already delicious cake, said Trace Hallowell, founder of Tactical Magic. Earlier this year, the firm won local and regional honors for its work with PetSmart, and the recognition from national advertising leaders affirmed the agency's reputation within the industry.

"It's kinda wonderful to see this logo designed by a small firm from Memphis take home the top award at nationals," Hallowell said. "There were so many great campaigns in competition at that level and it was an honor to be among them."

Dan Barron, Memphis market manager for Entercom and a vice president with the local chapter of the AAF, said the award "validates the idea that any Memphis firm can stand toe to toe with the big agencies and come out a winner."

"Susan has added to her reputation as a local and regional talent, and now she's getting lots of notice on the national scene. It's great for her and great for Memphis," Barron said.

Susana Della Maddalena, vice president and executive director at PetSmart Charities, said the Tactical Magic team "captured the essence of what we were trying to achieve. ... This has been a great experience."

Accolades aside, Ewing said the best parts of her new home at Tactical Magic are her flexible schedule and being involved in every aspect of campaigns developed by the firm.

With more than two decades of experience in the local advertising industry -- working for such firms as Thompson and Co. and inferno -- Ewing said the chance to serve in a leadership role at Tactical Magic was a career offer she simply couldn't refuse.

"I bring an analytical sensibility to the firm while others deliver creative aspects, and together we generate incredible work," Ewing said. "I'm serious about what I do and I've worked hard my entire career, which has ultimately led me to this point and I have to say, it feels great."

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"A house of brands is like a family, each needs a role and a relationship to others."
- Jeffrey Sinclair