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And the MAA UK Creative Agency of 2021 is….

It’s been a strong year for UK creative agencies: Lucky Generals excelled for Amazon and finished the year with a strong Co-op ad, Droga5, Mother and VCCP had their moments, two newbies New Commercial Arts and Wonderhood Studios, helmed by two of London’s more formidable suits in James Murphy and former Channel 4 boss David Abraham, also made their mark in different ways.

AMV BBDO won a bagful of awards while Adam&eveDDB remains the UK’s most proficient, all-court big creative agency

But if there had been any doubt that Uncommon Creative Studio would win MAA’s Creative Agency of the Year for the second year in a row, October’s British Airways win sealed the deal.

After four years in the clutches of WPP, BA’s wholesale move to Uncommon, taking both creative and CRM business with it, was a vindication of everything that Nils Leonard, Lucy Jameson and Natalie Graeme set out to do when they launched four years ago.

Strong, innovative work is their calling card, and the agency has stuck to its creative guns at every turn, whether it’s for big clients like ITV, B&Q and Google, or scale-ups and enterprises like Habito, Yolt, or Coventry City of Culture.

There was innovative, high profile work for the big spenders: ITV (Drama vs Reality, Britain Get Talking, and the Christmas spot, It’s Been a Year); B&Q (the constantly evolving ‘Build a Life’) and Google (‘What Are You Searching For’ and ‘Hands Raised’).

And there were ground breaking ideas for Habito (an erotic novel); H&M (free suit hire for job seekers); for Refugee Week, Uncommon got together with lifestyle brand Earl of East to create the Scent of Home candle; and for The Guardian, a great print and outdoor campaign celebrating Kamala Harris’ inauguration as vice president of the USA in January.

That calling card — applicable across all media — brought them not only the big BA prize, but also regular new business success including from Merchant Gourmet, Twinings, Wagamama, Museum of London. A new customer experience division, launched in August, was given the no-nonsense name of The Practice, indicating that the agency means business in this discipline — which may well come into its own with BA.

Uncommon was already established itself as an interesting player in the market, but in 2021 they became a true force to be reckoned with. It’s an agency that works as a true partner with its clients, able to make work that has a wider impact, not just with niche brands but also with British institutions like ITV and B&Q.

In 2022, British Airways will give Uncommon the chance to prove itself on a global scale, and given its track record, the agency is likely to deliver once again. To use its own words, the agency has “actively thrived through unsettling times” and with next year looking set to be equally turbulent, it should be another good one for Uncommon.

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