By Carolyn Weber. Sponsored by the NAHB Sales and Marketing Council, this annual contest just keeps getting more competitive and prestigious. The Nationals celebrates the creative masterminds behind the industry's most innovative and effective advertising, marketing, merchandising, and home design. This year's contest drew a record-breaking 1,227 entries. From those, judges awarded 53 Gold winners, 197 Silver winners, and 247 regional awards.

City Pretty

The Vine, Seattle

Attached community of the year (urban); best overall advertising campaign; best sales office over 600 square feet (urban)

The dream team that brought us the urban communities of the year in 2000 (the Concord in Seattle) and 2001 (One Embarcadero South in San Francisco) has done it again. This time Cliff Bowman of bireM and Dean Jones of Real Estate Applied Logics worked their pre-sales magic on The Vine condominium, selling unbuilt condos with images and samples of lifestyle.

When Jones and Bowman took over this foundering pre-sale project, they decided to emphasize the neighborhood, Seattle's up-and-coming Belletown region. It has a young, Soho vibe but attracts buyers of all ages and from all walks of life. "It's a very diverse group," says Jones, whose company is based in Seattle. "So it was important that our branding be energetic but not exclusionary."

With sleek black and white ads featuring testimonials from a well-known local designer, restaurateur, and an art curator, the marketers targeted a sensibility rather than a demographic. "When we position a product we tend to lean more toward the young side," says Bowman, whose company is based in Vancouver, B.C. "Because people tend to see themselves as at least 10 years younger than they are."

The pair developed sophisticated ads that captured eyeballs and drew buyers in a stalled market. The campaign boosted traffic to well over 3,000 people since early summer 2002.

It also helped the development team attract more than 40 partners that participated in The Vine's privilege program. Qualified visitors to the property may join the program and use a membership card for discounts at local restaurants, health clubs, and art museums. "Our number one attribute is the neighborhood, so we decided to capitalize on it," says Dean. "We put together an educational marketing program that allows prospective buyers to see what the area is really like."

Builder: Cedar Development, Seattle; Architect: GGLO Architects, Seattle; Marketing Consultants: bireM (Builder's International Real Estate Marketing), Vancouver, B.C.; Real Estate Applied Logics, Seattle; Interior design: Ledingham Design, Seattle; Signage: Motivational Systems, Seattle; Ad agency: Methodologie, Seattle

Be our guest: The sales center is a communications tool as well as a great staging area for events. It features a wine bar, coffee bar, a lounge with a looping project video, and a scale model of the building with an oversized view of downtown Seattle. "The designer created an environment that is reflective of the urban lifestyle in Belletown [an up-and-coming area of Seattle]," says Cliff Bowman, of bireM. Creative lighting, featuring a gobo ball that reflects images of vines onto a screen, adds to the art gallery feeling. The Nationals 2003, part 2 The Nationals 2003, part 3 The Nationals 2003, part 4 The Nationals 2003, part 5