While our award might be fake, the inspiring work these organizations are doing is 100% real.
The long-awaited moment has arrived: We’re announcing this year’s Workhorse Collaborative Marketing and Organizational Strategy Fake Award winners.
There is no formal process or official trophy; this is our way of recognizing some of the most creative, progressive, and interesting work we see right now in the world of arts, culture, and nonprofits. We celebrate these organizations (and the people who make them) because they often don’t get the kind of accolades that major institutions and household brands do—and they deserve it.
We do feel inclined to note that while these awards are not at all official, last year we gave Literacy Pittsburgh a Fake Award for their spectacular rebrand—and then they submitted for and won an actual, real award for that rebrand.
So without further ado, and in no particular order, we present: the 2023 Marketing and Organizational Strategy Fake Awards!
The Woven Kente
Award: Spot-on Value Proposition
A value proposition is how a brand or organization describes the problem it solves for its audience; they can range from lackluster to extraordinary and they’re the core of a good marketing strategy. We have no notes for The Woven Kente’s value proposition; it’s perfect. In just two sentences, we know exactly what this brand is, who its audience is, and why they’d want to buy. And it doesn’t hurt that the value proposition is part of a well-designed website!
Award: Exquisite (and Slightly Snarky) Rebrand
With eclectic visuals, animated graphics, and a splashy color palette, this rebrand of the prestigious Philharmonie Luxembourg concert hall, executed by UK-based agency NB Studio, delivers a punchy look for an iconic organization. Where you might expect a serious or muted brand, NB Studio takes a common criticism of classical music (“boring!”) and cheekily works it into punchy advertisements. And we can’t forget the inspired designs for the children’s programming, which pair friendly letters with musical instruments, making a genre that’s often seen as stiff and old appeal to a young, vibrant generation.
Pittsburgh Glass Center
Award: Dynamite Capital Campaign
PGC’s recent capital campaign, Shattering the Ceiling, raises money to expand its facility and enable the organization to grow as a community space for glass art-making. Through personal interviews and descriptive visuals, the campaign video that launched Shattering the Ceiling is an incredible example of how storytelling can drive impact—and why thoughtful, fully realized fundraising efforts are worth the time and effort. We can’t wait to see the new facility in summer 2024!
Kelly Strayhorn Theater
Award: Exceptional Community Alignment
We have a special place in our hearts for KST because they match their organizational planning and processes with their essential mission: to create a home for Black and queer people in Pittsburgh. KST’s 2021–2024 Strategic Plan, Owning Our Future, Thriving Where We Live, is an astounding example of how to authentically align programming, staffing, funding, and operations. On top of creating a fantastic strategic plan, KST shared it through a number of engaging channels, from a campaign video to a packed website to a community survey, making sure that everyone could understand and share in its vision.
Sacramento History Museum
Award: Impressive Instagramming
Like Carnegie Museum of Natural History (celebrated for its surprise TikTok fame), Sacramento History Museum turns its best assets—its passionate experts—into great social media content. From impromptu beer history lessons to a surprising Barbie/Greta Gerwig tie-in, this museum finds every opportunity to connect the history of Sacramento with contemporary events and reach new audiences.
Pittsburgh’s Original Oyster House
Award: People-first Management
While a restaurant might seem slightly out of place on this list of arts and culture organizations, we had to include the Original Oyster House. In 2021, this Pittsburgh restaurant shut its doors for 6 weeks after the holidays to give its staff a break after working through the worst of the pandemic. Earlier this year, in agreement with staff, the co-owners decided to make the 6-week break a yearly practice. They also switched to a 4-day work week. We don’t often see restaurants breaking the industry’s well-established grind culture, and we hope arts and culture orgs take note.
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