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30 May, 2018

Announcing the 2018 SMPS DC MCA Winners

Laura Ewan

Chapter Announcements  
Blog Types

Read time: 7 minutes, 21 seconds

Awards season is upon us, and we're right there with you in the trenches. But now's the time to step away from those deadlines and project descriptions to recognize the winners of SMPS DC's 2018 Marketing Communications Awards. This year's slate included a variety of creative submittals from architecture, engineering, and construction firms across the DC market, and proved that AEC marketing is truly on the move. Our judges named winners across four categories – Marketing Campaign, Holiday Piece, Special Event, and Website – but left the grand prize up to you. Be sure to join us at our Summer Celebration on June 13th to cast your vote for our 2018 MCA People's Choice Award winner. And now for the fun part, drumroll please...

Meet the Judges

Our 2018 jury included long-time SMPS DC leaders and friends Katie Garrett, Vice President Client Services with REQ; Jen Bottomley, CPSM, Associate Vice President at HGA Architects and Engineers; and Tara McCarthy, Business Development Director at Page. Representing excellence and experience in communications, marketing and business development, the team dug deep into each project to hold submitting firms accountable to the marketing goals they set out to achieve. "As jurors, we cannot stress enough the importance of clear and measurable results, and we're looking for those results to tie directly back to the goals," said Jen. Don't let the friendship fool you, these three didn't always see eye-to-eye, and enjoyed a morning of healthy debate and discourse around our 2018 entries. "It's exciting to see the industry evolving in such a nice way. The caliber has really risen – in both the work submitted and the quality of the submissions overall," said Katie. "It's a very cool time to be a part of marketing in this industry, and to have this opportunity to see how sharp the SMPS DC marketers really are. The work we've seen today is impressive," added Tara.


2018 SMPS DC MCA Winners

Marketing Campaign


Marketing Campaign Gallery Photo

HITT celebrated their 80th anniversary in 2017 with a dynamic 80 Stories campaign, a name that plays on high-rise construction and high quality content. They developed 80 short stories to roll out digitally throughout the year, culminating in a commemorative book at the end of the campaign. Their intention was to use these stories to create deeper, authentic connections with those they work with and for. By focusing on iconic moments, integral people, remarkable projects, and company culture past and present, HITT was able to celebrate not just a milestone for themselves, but for all who shaped who HITT is today. The year-long campaign resulted in strengthened brand identity and cultural awareness, and increased social engagement on Facebook and Instagram by 70% and LinkedIn by 30%.

Check out the full campaign.

What the judges had to say:

  • Jen: I appreciate the amount of planning and work that went into coming up with a campaign that covers all sectors and all walks of life at HITT.
  • Katie: This campaign displays an excellent use of storytelling.
  • Tara: It's a great milestone and you can really see the pride.

What the team had to say:

The 80 stories campaign was incredibly successful, both in ROI for the company and as a marketing program. It was a great experience in truly developing and executing a year-long, multi-channel campaign. We know we work for the best builder in DC, but it’s a special honor to be recognized for our own skills in marketing.

SECOND PLACE: Hickok Cole Color Outside the Lines

Marketing Campaign Board

Inspired by the firm's collaborative and adventurous culture, Hickok Cole's annual marketing campaign sought to communicate the firm's position as a cutting-edge design firm unafraid to challenge the status quo. Color Outside the Lines did just that by encouraging clients, partners and employees alike to leave the old way of doing things behind and push the limits of what's possible in their work. The campaign employed bold graphic language and messaging across a variety of channels, including digital advertising, monthly e-newsletters, research-driven blogs, design-oriented events, and a custom coloring book of the firm's work that invited clients to color outside the lines themselves.

What the judges had to say:

  • Tara: The research and diversity of media in this campaign was impressive.
  • Jen: I really liked the production timeline. That was awesome.
  • Katie: The marketing plan for this was stellar, and I appreciate them playing on the trend of adult coloring books.

What the team had to say:

Each year we challenge ourselves to top our previous year's campaign, in both creativity and results. Submitting to the MCAs is a huge part of holding ourselves accountable to this goal. Color Outside the Lines embodies our firm's creative spirit, and took full advantage of our collective love for all things neon. We're thrilled to see the results recognized alongside AEC marketing's best here in DC.

Holiday Piece

FIRST PLACE: MBP Holiday Video

4 Production

The MBP marketing team is always looking for ways to raise the bar with their annual holiday card. This year, they wanted to experiment with the rising trend of time-lapse photography, which is highly popular on social media. Their goal was to work with their in-house marketing resources to create a simple and entertaining animated holiday card to be sent to their email list of more than 10,000 recipients. Using their own team members, the team created a playful and memorable theme that reflects MBP's culture and brand.

Watch the video.

What the judges had to say:

  • Jen: I loved seeing the behind-the-scenes and the post-production side of this project. We got to see the entire process.
  • Tara: It was very cool to see how technical they were in the details they shared about their challenges, and how they overcame them.
  • Katie: It made me very impressed with their team that this was something they can execute internally.

What the team had to say:

Our video project had many moving parts, took a lot of planning, and it was done all in-house. In the end, we were proud to produce something different and unique. It’s an honor to be recognized by the MCA program because it shows our hard work and creativity went the extra mile. It also showcases the strides our team makes to build our brand and be seen as an industry leader.

Special Event

FIRST PLACE: Hickok Cole Art Night

Special Event Board

Now in its 17th year, Hickok Cole's Art Night event has raised more than one million dollars for Washington Project for the Arts and local artists. Known for drawing a big crowd, this year the team wanted to put the emphasis back on fundraising. To do this, they introduced a new $500 sponsorship category, Art Cherubs, to complement their robust Art Angels program and attract the next generation of art lovers and supporters. Event curators were challenged to increase the number of $100-$500 pieces to accommodate the new audience. Invite and advertising content, as well as event signage, was updated to emphasize the purchase of artwork. The Art Cherub program attracted eight new supporters, resulting in an additional $4,000 towards their grand total. With fewer but more targeted guests thanks to a scrubbed list, and a refocused emphasis on buying art, Art Night 2017 raised $120,000 for WPA.

See the full story behind Art Night.

What the judges had to say:

  • Tara: Excellently tied together, yet again. Art Night is a winner every year. They always do a fantastic job.
  • Katie: This is one where I saw the research and planning stand out. Showing how they've adapted this signature event for newer audiences with the Art Cherub program was a really nice evolution.
  • Jen: Yes, it was great to see them take on something different than the norm with this event.

What the team had to say:

The 2017 Art Night event was the first big project our new team tackled together. The event is unlike any other, and so is the planning process. We had big shoes to fill, and are proud to have produced an award-winning event and collateral that lived up to the Art Night reputation.

SECOND PLACE: HITT 80th Anniversary

Speakeasy Gallery Photo

HITT commemorated their 80th anniversary with a celebration alongside their best clients and partners. Inspired by the prohibition era of the company's founding year (1937), the speakeasy theme and hushed vibe was fitting for their VIP-only guest list. The experience was carefully crafted, starting with a mysterious save-the-date that included limited information, a small brass skeleton key, and a password. The venue, located in Old Town Alexandria, offered history and ambiance that were accented with art-deco decor, graphics and messaging to add a hint of 1930s glitz. The goal was not to earn new clients or make sales, but rather to convey their gratitude to existing clients, who all raved about the event's entertaining aspects and attention to detail.

What the judges had to say:

  • Tara: This was off the hook. Very well done. They really nailed it.
  • Katie: Excellent theme. Very creative and comprehensive.
  • Jen: This really tied back well to their campaign. The attention to detail was impressive and on point.

What the team had to say:

The Speakeasy event was an important part of our 80 stories campaign, and a memorable touchpoint for our most important clients. This is a an award of pride for a marketer, especially in the AEC industry where we often work in the background. We’re honored to say we’re an award-winning marketing team!




In 2016, Langan decided to their website was in need of an upgrade. While the content was fresh, the look, feel and functionality reflect the needs and abilities of their modern marketing team. The new brands the firm as the innovative, technically excellent, and polished firm that it is. The design features a sophisticated palette, clean layout, streamlined navigation and a dynamic portfolio section. Project photography coupled with site plans, renderings and construction photos tell the complete story behind Langan's diverse work. New additions include a showcase of Life at Langan through the addition of pages focused on citizenship, sustainability, health and safety, and career development. The new site receives continuous positive feedback from clients, colleagues and staff, and has significantly improved web traffic, page views, and bounce rate.

Visit the website.

What the judges had to say:

  • Jen: For an engineering firm, this was colorful, it was clean, and it provided a lot of information in an easily navigable way.
  • Katie: I'm impressed with what they did with their budget and timeline.
  • Tara: The submission really expressed what the marketing team wanted to achieve with their website. It's great to see this new layered and softened image of Langan.

What the team had to say:

We submitted our website because it was a special project for us outside of our normal day-to-day. We're very proud of the end result, and it means a lot to be recognized among our industry peers and show our technical staff that our work is award-winning. The website refresh in particular was a large budget item for the firm, so being able to show that the project received recognition reinforces that our dollars were well spent.