Our 10 top picks for things we loved in 2018
 Don’t deny it –– IHOP’s incredible IHOB campaign does its job perfectly.
Sure. You can call it a “stunt,” but it’s one that got people talking…and isn’t that entirely the point? Equal parts buzzworthy, annoying, controversial and captivating, IHOP’s announcement of its impending name change had everyone talking IHOP for the first time in a long time. While some marketing minds were quick to call it a failure, they clearly missed the point – everyone now knows that IHOP proudly serves burgers (and even brews here in Phoenix) – so we’d consider the campaign a win.
 Arizona #RedForEd’s stunning strike and movement mobilizes an army, advances education funding issues in unlikely state.
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(See the full video on our FB page.) Supporting education shouldn’t have to be a “movement,” but sadly these days, it must be. But, it’s inspiring to see educators and the community stand up for our youth and the betterment of our educational systems. Change is tough, but the brave prevail. #RedForEd is much more than a movement –– it’s the inevitable future. So we’re closing up shop Thursday, and we’re encouraging clients, friends and partners to do all they can to support dramatic, immediate improvements to our educational system. We are #RedForEd.
It was an inspiring effort that brought an entire community together in support of the same cause, and while ultimately, the budget and legislative results weren’t entirely what we’d hoped, we still count Arizona’s #RedforED endeavor among our favorites of 2018. Anything that evoked this much power and passion from the people is something today’s elected officials simply can’t ignore, and we’re here for anything that sends a message of, “Listen up – we’re not having it,” to this historically conservative state.
 The AWE family adds an expanded digital team. Welcome home, Waypoint!
We were ecstatic when Waypoint Creative joined forces with AWE earlier this year in a move that extended our family and expanded our digital services. The Waypoint team may have moved in only recently, but it feels as if they’ve been here since day one. Need evidence? Look no further than AWE’s recent number-one ranking on the Phoenix Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” list for micro-sized companies, which is one of our proudest achievements and further proof that our efforts to create and maintain a strong company culture aren’t in vain.
 We’re calling it: “Beychella” was one of the greatest performances of all time.
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They called it “incredible,” “mesmerizing” and “the performance of a lifetime,” and we’d, too, call it what it was: one of the single best, most electrifying live performances by any musician, ever. We all can’t help but hail Queen Bey, but at Coachella, with an audience of more than 120,000 and 105 minutes of pulse-pounding, marching band-backed song and dance, she sent not just ripples, but shock waves, through the music world – leaving absolutely no question ‘bout Who Run the World. #SLAY
 Negotiation, leadership and transitions –– Pelosi leads, yet makes way for new voices.
She’s an undeniably polarizing political figure, but Nancy Pelosi’s commitment to compromising, picking her battles and preparing the next generation for the hard work that lies ahead made her one of this year’s biggest success stories in our book. Love her or hate her, it’s hard to deny that she’s an effective, if controversial, leadership figure who’s more concerned with leaving the House in the right hands than having her own extended moment in the sun.
 We’re not supposed to have favorites, but Zia Records takes the cake.
There are “dream clients,” and then there’s Zia Record Exchange. From designing and implementing innovative, attention-grabbing campaigns (think “Zia Zombie Month” and “Record Store Day,” among others) to orchestrating the independent record retailer’s single-biggest grand opening event ever for its new Las Vegas location, we’ve loved working in conjunction with entire Zia team. We simply can’t say enough about the brand, the people and the fervent fan culture.
 Patagonia (a dream client) doubles down on values, donates Trump tax cuts to environmental causes.
Patagonia proved that it’s prepared to stand behind its convictions, regardless of the consequences. In addition to continuing to shine a spotlight on the current administration’s efforts to put its “tiny hands on public lands,” the retailer fought through incredible backlash – but also an undeniable swell of support – as it took the $10 million it received through Trump’s tax cuts and donated it directly to environmental issues and causes. It was the ultimate act of protest, leadership and advocacy, and it’s one we applauded wholeheartedly.
 And the winner is . . . AWE! We’re the #1 Best Place to Work!
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We’re so excited! AWE Collective was just recognized as the @phxbizjournal’s #1 company on their coveted “Best Places To Work” ranking for our category! Every amazing AWE campaign is powered by our prioritization of our team –– first and foremost. Because #agencylife is creative yet challenging. It’s happy hours and late nights. So cheers to our entire family, to our longtime supporters, our amazing clients and to the Phoenix Business Journal for the incredible recognition! Thank you all. Hit the link in our bio for the full story and award details!
What better way to round out a great year than to accept an award from one of the state’s most prominent publication in a room packed with 800 friends, colleagues, business associates and media contacts? That’s exactly what happened recently when we received the number-one spot on The Phoenix Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” list for micro-sized companies. Receiving this award from one of the area’s most trusted authorities was the cherry on top of an already incredible year, and we can’t wait to see what sweet surprises 2019 has in store.
 Nike leans into controversy, shoulders backlash and wins with charismatic Kaepernick campaign.
This year, Nike made one of the most courageous moves – and took one of the most calculated risks – in marketing history when it chose to feature one of the most divisive faces in American pop culture, Colin Kaepernick, in its ad campaign. It was a bold, shocking move in a climate where most advertisers are struggling to figure out how to convey the messages they need to without compromising their values, and it was one that ultimately resonated with a large percentage of the American people. Nike showed the world that standing by one’s convictions is what pays off in the end, and that even if taking action means you have to sacrifice or lose, you Just Do It.
 When a client steps up for an incredible social cause, we’re right there with them.
When our client, Central Christian Church, chose to offer a hand to asylum seeking families in need of a temporary safe place to stay, some criticized the move, and some commended it. It’s our sincerest hope, though, that by sharing their stories, we can counter the misinformation that currently surrounds the subject and paint a more accurate picture of both the asylum-seeking migrants and the Arizona families who opened their homes and hearts to them.