Amir Kassaei, CCO of DDB Worldwide thinks so. But, then, he would say that wouldn’t he?
Actually he wouldn’t. Kassaei is now based in China (I think) but his view, annnounced with his customary emphasis, probably won’t have gone down too well in the US where Omnicom’s agencies include the US offices of DDB, TBWA and BBDO, consistently the most awarded network in the world and, arguably, the most successful.
Kassaei (left) was laying down smoke, announcing the appointment of A&E co-founder and CCO Ben Priest as chair of DDB’s EMEA creative council in the wake of the departure of Jeremy Craigen, who’s joined Innocean as CCO. Craigen’s departure still rankles with many at DDB and elsewhere.
He said: “It is amazing to see how adam&eve/DDB became the best agency in the world, and I know that Ben can do great things for all our offices in the EMEA region because of his talent, expertise, experience, personality and values.”
But how do you assess these things? You could argue about whether or not A&E is the best agency in the UK, let alone the world. It’s certainly one of the best of course, it was our Agency of the Year last year and has consistently produced highly competent (in many cases outstanding) work for a wide variety of clients – something DDB in the UK failed to do before A&E moved in. Prior to Omnicom buying A&E DDB in London was in danger of becoming a one trick pony: VW, Craigen’s account.
Its nearest rivals in the UK last year were Omnicom sibling AMV BBDO and WPP’s Grey. Mother also excelled with its campaign for IKEA and Christmas ad for Boots.
Regionally and globally A&E made a big impact too; notably by being voted the Cannes Lions Agency of the Year, chiefly but not exclusively on the back of its ‘Sorry I Spent It On Myself’ campaign for Harvey Nichols. But Cannes isn’t the sole arbiter of regional success. There are a number of outstanding agencies in France (BETC, Ogilvy Paris, Fred & Farid) and Germany while Sweden’s Forsman & Bodenfors (‘Epic Split’ for Volvo etc) is, by some measures, the most awarded single agency worldwide.
I’m not sure the US would unduly trouble the scorers at the moment in such a global contest. Droga5 has been quiet by its standards since its part sale to WME, Wieden+Kennedy has been up and down like a yo-yo and Deutsch LA hasn’t produced a ‘Young Darth Vader’ equal for a while. The Martin Agency remains a beacon of consistency and, among the really big battalions, BBDO New York keeps knocking ’em out.
We’ve missed out whole continents – (apologies) – but that’s enough globe trotting for now.
So is Kassaei right? It’s Cannes next week (not forgetting the caveat above) and A&E’s ‘Monty the Penguin’ for John Lewis is on many people’s lists of likely winners. If it were to be win big it would a hell of an achievement as Cannes is likely to see a stream of awards for ‘creativity for good’ films, online mini-documentaries purporting to show that their corporate sponsors really do have a heart.
But Monty is an ad although, being A&E, there’s lots of clever integrated stuff too. If it thwarts the goody goodies in some categories that might be a victory for common sense as well as A&E. And, perhaps, clinching evidence that Kassaei is right.