My pick of 2012: Samsung Galaxy, 18 Feet & Rising and Johnny Hornby

These are my choices for ad/campaign of the year, agency of the year and person of the year.

Samsung Galaxy S111

The launch campaign for the new Galaxy handset in the US was the work of 72 & Sunny in LA.

On several levels I think it is one of the freshest ideas I’ve seen in a long time. The plot is set around a stationary line of people in Chicago waiting for a store to open (Apple of course and the iPhone). Unusually for the US the irony is there for all to see and hear, it makes the waiting crowd look like clueless believers.

A young man saving a place gives it up when his parents turn up, a real dig at the hippy-dippy world of Apple. Obviously the Galaxy is owned by people passing by, not in the line, with admiring comments from the Apple devotees. The thought is ‘The Next Big Thing is Already Here’.

They manage to weave in product benefits with ease and in tune with the dialogue. I’ve seen this ad several times now and truthfully I’ve been converted; my next mobile will be a Samsung Galaxy S111. My friends in NYC tell me the campaign is working as Samsung takes a growing share of the latest breed of handsets. Brilliant on so many levels.

18 Feet & Rising

18 Feet started their agency in January 2010 so their third birthday is just around the corner.

They have built a robust business during a recession whereas several other new ventures have withered on the vine.

Plus they have stuck to their principles as a creatively led ad agency. Today they are 35 people in London and six in Sydney, as in Australia; a deal they did in 2012.

They’ve imported some heavy duty people this year, won £18m of new business including Virgin Media, National Trust and Centre Parcs, amongst others.

They’ve pitched against industry big players and won including BBH, AMV/BBDO and McCann. Most recently they won the National Citizen Service on behalf of HMG and Jonathan Trimble, founding suit, even had a trip to Number 10 for a meeting with the PM.

Their signature client in terms of scale must be Nationwide. This work is arguably the best of the bunch by a mile in financial services. 18 Feet & Rising is a model others thinking about starting should examine in detail and follow.

Johnny Hornby

CHI opened its doors in July 2001. Johnny Hornby was the suit in the trio with a big ambition.

11 years later Johnny is the head of an operation with 1400 staff in the UK, USA and Asia. They smartly sold 49 per cent to WPP but remain in control with the balance of equity. At Cannes this year they were the most awarded independent agency, they have won 55 awards during the year and recently picked up an IPA Effectiveness award for British Gas.

I first saw his brass neck when we invited Honda in to Simons Palmer only to find Johnny sitting in reception with his client. Johnny sat through the presentation politely but clearly in control of his Honda client. We hired him several years later at TBWA where he worked for Simon Clemmow, his future partner.

Apart from building the biggest operation from a start-up in a decade Johnny also is a marathon runner and has raised over £20,000 for charity. Knowing him he is probably eyeing up Martin Sorrell’s role at WPP when the slot becomes vacant!

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About Paul Simons

Paul joined Cadbury-Schweppes in brand management and then moved to United Biscuits. He switched to advertising in his late 20s, at Cogent Elliott and then Gold Greenlees Trott. He founded Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow & Johnson in the late 80s, one of the leading creative agencies of the 90s. Simons Palmer then merged with TBWA to create a top ten agency. Paul then joined O&M as chairman & CEO of the UK group. After three years he left to create a new AIM-quoted advertising group Cagney Plc. He is now a consultant to a number of client companies. Paul also shares his thoughts on his blog. Visit Paul Simons Blog.