Maria St. Martin of OMD picks the best bracket out of 1,700 entries. Melissa Gerber of iProspect channels her Hurricanes’ school spirit for the winning photo.
Our Agency Pick ‘Em and Flickr hoops photo contests for ad agencies were all about the men’s national collegiate basketball championship, but two women claimed the top prizes. Maria St. Martin, an Maria St. Martin of OMD, Agency Pick 'Em winneradvertising strategist with OMD, picked the best bracket out of 1,700 entries in Agency Pick ‘Em, winning a trip for two to the 2014 Men’s College Basketball Championship Final game. Keith Zukowsky of MEC took second place, giving men a boost and receiving a 55-inch Sony Bravia Yahoo! Connected TV.
Melissa Gerber of iProspect won the Agency Pick ‘Em Flickr photo contest with a tribute to her University of Miami Hurricanes, winning a top-of-the-line Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR camera. Here's a look at how Maria and Melissa won their contests.
Maria St. Martin: “It’s fun when a female wins a bracket.”
You could say picking brackets for the college basketball championship tournament is in Maria St. Martin’s DNA. “I’ve done brackets since I was a little kid,” she says. “My father and older brother always did them, so I did them too.”
Thanks to the Internet, she’s been known to play 10 pools at a time, but this year she throttled back to four. A strategist by trade and temperament, Maria took a different approach with Agency Pick ‘Em because she didn’t think she had a chance to win with over 1,700 entries in the pool. “I went out of my strategy zone and just had fun with it,” she said. “I picked Michigan to make the finals because lots of family members went there. And I had to pick (eventual champ) Louisville for the finals, since they’d been predicted to win it all season long.”
Agency Pick ‘Em didn’t start out so hot for Maria, so she switched her focus to her office pool, where she was number one.” I completely forgot about my Yahoo! bracket,” she said.
Shortly after the tourney ended, she got an email from Yahoo! saying that she won. She didn’t take it seriously at first and asked her coworkers if they’d gotten the same email. They hadn’t, and when they gathered around a computer to check her Agency Pick ‘Em bracket, they discovered that she was indeed the champ. She picked 47 out of 63 games correctly---one game better than last year’s champ, Ravi Patel of Neo@Ogilvy.
“It’s fun when a female wins a bracket,” said Maria, who admitted to strutting around her office. She’s excited about going to next year’s championship game, especially since it’s in Arlington, Texas, her home state.
Until then, she’ll bide her time running the agency softball team, played in its soccer league, and playing Fantasy Football. “I love Fantasy Football,” she said, “and I only play on Yahoo!” How does she do there? “Not as good as fantasy basketball,” she laughed.
Melissa Gerber: “Have enough confidence to just go do it.”
Melissa Gerber thought she had a great chance to win the fancy Canon camera offered as top prize in the Agency Pick 'Em Flickr Photo Contest. “I have tons of school spirit,” said the 2009 graduate of the University of Miami, where she was a member of the Hurricanettes. This year, she watched every game in the Canes’ run to the Sweet Melissa Gerber of iProspect, Flickr Photo Contest winnerSixteen with the Miami alumni association in her hometown of Chicago. She took lots of photos of them rooting on Miami at local pubs, she said, and just “dumped them all into the contest.”
As the deadline drew closer, she checked the Flickr site and saw some “cute dog and baby photos” that looked threatening. “I had to do more,” she said, and decided to do something that got her lots of attention back at her Miami dorm---dressing up like the school mascot, Sebastian the Ibis. An ibis is Florida marsh bird that’s said to be the last living thing to leave an area before a hurricane hits, and the first to return afterwards. “It represents courage and leadership,” says Melissa.
Melissa went to her parents’ house, put together a Sebastian outfit, and enlisted her mom to take photos of her out in the yard. She didn’t like any of them until she had remembered a classic Miami cheer---the Canes spell-out, which required contorting her body into the shapes of those five letters (see below). “All my neighbors were laughing at me,” she remembers. “My mom could barely take the photos because she was laughing so hard.”
Melissa is thrilled to win that camera, but she admits to being a little embarrassed by the photos. “I’m so glad that that the judges knew what I was doing with the spell-out,” she says. “Or maybe they just felt bad for me looking so dorky. But it’s one of those things where you have to have enough confidence to just go do it.”