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COMMUNICATIONS GROUPS MERGE TO FORM BRAINSTORM

The Buffalo area's communications industry has joined together under a common umbrella, after some 50 years of representation by two organizations.

After more than a year of discussion and review, the Professional Communicators of Western New York (ProCom) and the Art Directors/Communicators of Buffalo (ADCB) have dropped their separate identities and come together as a single organization known as Brainstorm -- The Communicators Club of Buffalo.

Nancy Cardillo, former president of ProCom, now president of Brainstorm, said bringing the two groups together made a lot of sense.

"There are so many different job titles represented, copy writers, public relations people, artists, account reps, agency executives. But we're really all members of the same community," Cardillo said.

Over the past five decades, the two groups -- described by some as the "artists versus the suits" -- have operated separately, despite having significant common ground.

"I think we've always had similar interests and goals, but for one reason or another, we stayed on our separate paths," Cardillo said.

One of their greatest duplications of effort was putting on annual awards events, a practice that came to an end in 1995 when they joined forces to hold the first-ever Awards for Creative Excellence (ACE), honoring the achievements of local communications professionals from all facets of the industry.

That successful joint effort led to a permanent union in July, when the memberships of both organizations voted to disband and form a single body.

Bill Collins, a principal of Travers/Collins/Partners, a Buffalo-based advertising and public relations agency, said the union was long overdue.

"There's so many talented people locally in this business. It's such a great idea to bring them together," Collins said.

The past ProCom president said as a single group, with beefed-up membership, it might be possible for Brainstorm to hold major events like the Professional Communicators group did many years ago when Buffalo's advertising community was in its hey-day.

"I remember big time speakers coming in, people like Ted Turner and Christie Hefner; maybe we can get involved in some bigger events like that again," Collins said.

Inspiration for the group's name comes from the late Alex Osborn, a co-founder of world-renowned ad agency Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborn (BBD&O). The transplanted New Yorker, who used Buffalo as his home base while making a major impact on the world of advertising, is credited with coining the term "brainstorming," to describe the process of creative problem solving.

The revered ad man, who authored several books on creativity, and sowed the seeds that led to development of Buffalo State College's Creative Studies program, is remembered annually via the Alex Osborne/Communicator of the Year award which is part of the ACE event.

As separate entities, ProCom and ADCB had memberships of 176, and 210, respectively. Cardillo hopes to build on that membership base via the joint group's broader focus.

"Historically, the members have been mostly agency folks. With the broader agenda I'm hoping we'll attract more people in corporate settings, free-lancers, and others who just never found a reason to get involved before now," she said.

To get potential members more involved, the club is calling on members to use their creative skills to come up with the new organization's logo and identity package. The deadline for submissions in Oct. 6.

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