"Immerse yourself in the powerful legacy of a culture that dared and succeeded." With Cancun as the site for its 2000 Conference of Champions, SAFECO used Mayan history to inspire its kickoff brochure. Playing off the intellectual and artistic achievements of the Maya, along with their interest in light and their study of the solar system, SAFECO's creative team came up with "Illuminations" as the conference theme.

The brochure [figs. 1 and 3] was mailed in January 1999 to the homes and offices of 8,000 independent agents, says Ken Pickle, manager, incentives and conferences. In March, about 3,000 agents received the first of eight painted tile coasters [fig. 4], mailed in a pyramid-shaped box [fig. 2] with a letter from an "archaeologist" claiming to have found the tile in a Mayan tomb.

The promotional campaign had the extra task of "illuminating" agents about Mexico as a meeting destination, Pickle notes. SAFECO had not been to Mexico with an incentive meeting in more than 20 years. The materials noted that Cancun has its own water filtration system and each hotel treats its water as well. "It's a destination designed for the North American traveler," says Pickle. "It's part Caribbean, part Mexican." And it's also historic, once inhabited by a people who were ahead of their time.

The campaign has won two awards, one from the Insurance Marketing Communications Association and the other from the International Association of Printing House Craftsmen.

The Program * Company: SAFECO

* Event: 2000 Conference of Champions

* Site: The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun

* Dates: May 14 to 30, 2000

* Qualification Period: January 1, 1999 through December 31, 1999

* Qualifying Attendees: Four back-to-back groups of about 285

* Total Attendees (including spouses, home office, and host staff): Four back-to-back groups of 650

* Theme: Illuminations

* The Creative Team: Aimee MacDonald, Project Creative Coordinator; and an outside design firm