The Directory Big Won rankings 2016 - an analysis of trends by editor Patrick Collister

Patrick Collister.jpgThe Directory Big Won rankings are edited by London-based Patrick Collister, a Creative Lead with Google's creative thinktank, The Zoo. They comprise data collected from global, regional and local awards shows. Here is his rundown on 2016.


BBDOh my goodness

In 2016, BBDO have no fewer than six agencies in the world's Top 10.  
The agency's mantra is 'the work, the work, the work' and it shows. In the 13 years since The Big Won rankings were first published, BBDO has topped the rankings (apart from one blip in 2013 when Ogilvy & Mather muscled in.)
The work has been consistently innovative with BBDO New York in particular embracing Digital.
And that's what is most noticeable about the 2016 rankings.
Where are the hot, digitally savvy agencies that looked set to take over the world? Crispin Porter in Boulder, R/GA in New York, Shackleton in Madrid, AKQA in London, serviceplan in Munich?
Nowhere to be seen.
Meanwhile, it is the big network agencies that are doing the most interesting work. And the big, old monoliths are beginning to look a lot more sprightly as a result of it - agencies like Grey New York (#Daddo for Pantene, Superbowl Babies Chour for the NFL) and McCann New York (Field Trip to Mars for Lockheed Martin, Girls Can't Code for Girls Who Code USA) producing campaigns any independent agency would be proud of.
The same goes for Grey and McCann in London, both rejuvenated and creating exciting work for Tate Gallery (Grey) and X-Box (McCann).
Talking of the independent agencies, it has been a patchy year.  
Eleven independents have made it into the Top 100. (At No.7, Forsman+Bodenfors had another good year but Droga5 New York is down to 17 from 7 in 2015. Venables Bell is at 41,  and Wieden+Kennedy Portland down 13 places are at 48.)
In times of uncertainty, you would expect them to do rather better than the traditional agencies with their shareholders and reluctance to fire intransigent clients.
    In times of uncertainty, it seems marketers are trusting their agencies to help them make the right decisions about how and where they spend their budgets.  

Thumbnail image for McWhopper_Box-web.jpgDB Export Brewtroleum infographic-thumb-400x256-187751.jpgThe All Golds
New Zealand agencies really do seem to rule the roost in 2016. If the All Blacks dominate world rugby, then Kiwi creatives are doing the same in advertising.
Colenso BBDO Auckland is the No.1 agency for creativity.
The agency's "Brewtroleum" campaign for DB Breweries was the No.1 Media idea in the world as well as the No.1 Outdoor idea
Y&R Auckland were the No.2 agency, mostly thanks to their "McWhopper" campaign for Burger King, which was the most awarded campaign in the world in 2016 as well as the No.1 Direct campaign
FCB Auckland is the No.1 agency for print.
What do they have in the water there?
It isn't as if this year's performance has been a flash in the pan. Kiwi agencies are consistently knocking it out of the park.
An agency may often do well in the rankings thanks to a single campaign, which wins awards at most of the big shows.
Colenso BBDO, however, won awards for 14 different clients (DB Breweries, Mars Petcare, Bank of New Zealand, Volkswagen, George Weston Foods, Auckland Writer's Festival, New Zealand Book Council, Fonterra Brands, SkyCity, Frucor Beverages, Michael Hill International, Mountain Dew, Burger King.)
"McWhopper" won awards in Print, Outdoor, Direct, Promo, Media, Digital, Alternative & Innovative, Integrated, PR and Branded Content. But as well as propelling Y&R Auckland to the top of the rankings, it also won elsewhere for Y&R Media, Y&R Digital and for David, Miami.
Quite how Y&R collaborated with Florida-based David is uncertain.

Better together
Collaboration is a major theme of 2016 and one which will get even more significant in 2017 . Recent research shows that any piece of work involving three or more agencies has a 42% greater chance of winning an award than work created by a single agency alone.*
 "Van Gogh's Bedroom" for the Art Institute of Chicago is credited to Leo Burnett Chicago, Starcom Mediavest Chicago and Ravenswood Studios, who made the actual set. And "The Next Rembrandt" is credited to three other agencies besides JWT Amsterdam.
Five agencies are credited with helping the simple video "Manboobs" for MACMA.
As agencies set about creating experiences rather than creating messages, it stands to reason they will need to involve skillsets they don't have themselves.
Building the bus for "The Field Trip to Mars", for instance. Four agencies were credited in the Cannes submission though one suspects more must have been involved in the construction.
McCann London's "Survival Billboard" lists seven collaborating agencies.
 "#LoveAtFirstTaste" by MullenLowe London for Knorr, likely to win plenty in 2017, is said to have nine.

The long and the short
In autumn 2016, Peter Field and Les Binet followed up their 2013 book "The Long And The Short Of It" with research based on IPA Effectiveness Awards winners. Their findings were that award-winning work continues to perform better in terms of ROI than unawarded campaigns. However, with 47% of budgets now being spent on achieving short-term results rather than long-term brand fame, they say there has been a dilution of effectiveness.
Award-winning work is now (just) six times more successful.
    Hearteningly, and bucking the trend, "Justino" from Leo Burnett Madrid for the Spanish National Lottery, was a massive brand-building campaign and the most highly ranked example of 'traditional' advertising at No.5.
    The next most highly ranked TV-based idea is "Spare the Act" for Dixons/Carphone Warehouse from AMVBBDO in at No.21.
    No print or outdoor in the top 20 at all.
    Instead, advertising ideas that don't look like advertising ideas at all.
    Take Brewtroleum. Here's Colenso BBDO Auckland creating a new product for its client, DB Breweries. Or "The Next Rembrandt", JWT Amsterdam creating a painting for the investment company ING. Or "The Edible Sixpack Ring" for Saltwater Breweries by We Are Believers New York, a demonstration of the company's push for sustainability rather than a message.
    Innovation is the name of the game these days.
    But where digital agencies think of innovation as a new product or service, ad agencies ask, 'what can we do first?'
    So we get a digitised bus.
    A poster with live human beings as the pawns that gamers can play with.
    A novel use for the black bars either side of any video shot on a mobile.
    A phone number that can be answered by thousands of people.
    Touchable ink.
    The first film shot, edited and designed to remain unseen for a century.
    How much of this is scam is hard to say. Fred & Farid remarked that good creative people make great work but exceptional creatives write the award submission videos.
    Across 2016, the marketing press echoed with the continuing reverberations of Byron Sharp's book "How Brands Grow".
    Not many of the top-performing campaigns in the rankings reflect his belief that mass market TV advertising is still fundamental to market success.

Less appealing
A welcome difference to last year's rankings, where charity and pro-bono campaigns skewed the results, is the fact there are only two campaigns in the top 20 created for NGOs, "Donate the Bars" from JWT Brazil for Atados and "Touchable Ink" from JWT Bangkok for Samsung Thailand.

     All in all, the 2016 rankings reveal a wider of variety of advertising solutions than ever before with more agencies demonstrating broader competencies across more media sets.
    The notion of 'above the line' and 'below the line' agencies is risible nowadays, given that every idea any agency creates needs to be articulated in countless different ways across all media.
    There are more seismic shifts ahead for advertising as VR, AR and AI influence how and where marketers engage with their customers.
    What the 2016 rankings seem to suggest is that the flagship ad agencies of the multinational networks are going to continue to be more experimental - more agile, if you like - than the digital specialists or the independents.


The Directory Big Won rankings are edited by Patrick Collister.
They comprise data collected from global, regional and local awards shows.
The rankings of creative people are as accurate as it is possible to be. However, agencies do often omit or add names to their awards submissions by mistake and these mistakes then carry through into our numbers.
The rankings we provide of planners and account management are fickle since only some agencies name them on their awards entries.

*Quoted by Lars Bastholm at IAB MIXX 2016.

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