The 2013 IABC Ottawa Excel Awards: Fifty Strategy and Creative—putting a creative spin on excellence

By Rebecca Ford

Three years ago when they were approached about submitting their work for an Excel Award, Fifty Strategy and Creative’s creative directors Sarah Roncarelli and Clare Brennan decided to give it a shot.

“We said yes, and the result was good,” Brennan said.

Maybe a little more than just good. Last year, Fifty took home five Excel Awards (to go along with the six the year before, and the six the year before that), and they haven’t looked back since.

For Roncarelli, winning is a genuinely thrilling moment, but it’s also an internal test.

“It’s great if your clients are happy and you’re feeling good, but how does your community of peers feel about your work? It’s a test,” she said.

For Brennan, the awards are also about challenging yourself to produce the best work you possibly can.

“[The awards] make us look at ourselves and say, ‘are we doing work that is of a caliber that it should be?’ When we come home with a bunch of awards, it really invigorates us. Someone is noticing it,” he said.

You can say that again. For the last three consecutive years, Fifty—an end-to-end creative and web service company that provides expertise in every area of creative, web communications and design—has taken home the most Excel Awards at the ceremony.

When asked what makes their team click, Brennan noted that although they’re very casual, they’re also very serious about their work.

“We really want the creative we produce to be effective for our clients. We want to feel some pride in what we’ve done—everyone here has a drive to do that,” he said.

What also makes Fifty stand out, according to Roncarelli, is their razor-sharp focus on strategy, and leveraging the creative ideas their team comes up with.

“The quality of our work is defined by our focus on new ways to break down barriers, or talk about a service or a product idea in a unique way that’s interesting and thoughtful,” she said.

When it comes to the Excel Awards themselves, both Roncarelli and Brennan are thrilled with the creative direction they have taken the last few years.

“We are excited about the prospect of there being an opportunity to focus on the quality of work from a creative perspective coming out of this community,” Roncarelli said, noting that there is still room to increase and evolve this opportunity to really focus on pure creative caliber work.

Both Roncarelli and Brennan appreciate the efforts of IABC Ottawa in bringing the community together.

“[IABC] has been reinvigorated and brought back, and I think the community has been missing it,” said Brennan.

Roncarelli agreed.

“We applaud the efforts—we think it’s a fantastic event. Last year was beautifully organized. It’s wonderful to get together with folks.”

Make sure May 16th is marked on your calendars—join us for an evening at the Excel Awards Gala, celebrating excellence among Ottawa’s top creative, communications and PR professionals.

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