MAA Advertiser of the Year is IKEA…and some awards we won’t be giving

Campaign has just announced its winner of Agency of the Year – adam&eveDDB for the third year in a row. No mention of our winner Mother (but it takes all sorts..). A&E was one of our runners-up (not a role that estimable agency is overly familiar with).

Adweek in the US too has delivered its verdict: Breakthrough Agency of the Year is San Francisco’s Venables Bell (which seems deserved) with Droga5 taking the top gong. Again, hard to argue with that although was it a vintage year for D5, apart from Under Armour? D5 is rather like another of our runners-up BETC Paris: fiercely ambitious and always trying to go further so we have to applaud that. Like A&E (and BETC) it has become a go-to destination for big advertisers. If we can add anything to Adweek we will – but we probably won’t.

What other awards won’t we be giving?

Well we won’t be choosing a Network of the Year because we’re not quite sure what a network is any more. Which may disappoint Johnny Hornby’s The&Partnership (another of our UK Agency of the Year candidates) as it scooped Toyota’s European creative account with an ingenious &Toyota solution of in-client agencies.

But with so many big clients seemingly content to approach network owners WPP (which owns 49 per cent of T&P), Omnicom, Publicis et al, where does the network power really reside? Of the owners it would probably have to be Omnicom, whose media arm won AT&T and P&G in the US with new “data-driven” media agency Hearts & Science. On the creative side, it won McDonald’s in the US with another newbie We Are Unlimited (where do they get these names from..), mostly peopled, it seems, from Wendy Clark’s shiny new DDB. WPP still makes more money though…

Talking of Hearts & Science, can’t work out how anyone can pick a Media Agency of the Year these days. Campaign chose PHD, which is fair enough as it won Volkswagen from WPP’s MediaCom, but with so much of their business handled centrally (the negotiations, the money and the media owner rebates – whoops) can you really tell the difference between them? Now may be a good time to start a media independent, as the 7stars has been showing in the UK.

We will choose an Advertiser of the Year: IKEA. It uses mostly independent agencies or creatives (including Mother) to considerable effect. Does this sell more flat packs? Some say it does, others differ. But it puts a human face on a pretty functional business. Don’t think anyone else came that close although Coca-Cola is certainly trying. Harvey Nichols in the UK probably gets more bang for its bucks than anyone (A&E again).

Production company? Don’t know, it’s really all about directors these days. Spike Jonze excelled for Kenzo World while (relative) newbie Philippa Price produced a tour de force for Stella McCartney.

We’ll choose our ads of the year later but Kenzo World will certainly be among them.

Finally our Men of the Year (no, we’re not being sexist). They’re two seasoned hacks (so media), the late Adrian Gill of the Sunday Times and Media Show presenter Steve Hewlett. Gill died of cancer recently, after bravely describing his experiences, and Hewlett has it. He’s been telling the BBC’s PM programme about his travails, some of which are, frankly, horrifying. Revealing an NHS riven by bureaucracy, inefficiency and refusal to change, even though its patients are dying unneccesarily.

For that both men deserve a prize.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.