Decisions, decisions – what we look for in our Creative Agency of the Year

Creative consistency is the key

For once let’s examine the evidence first. Our previous UK Agencies of the Year have been Wieden+Kennedy, adam&eveDDB, Mother, Uncommon and VCCP. Most of of them are contenders again this year with the addition of new business champions New Commercial Arts and Leo Burnett.

If there’s a common thread it’s ‘independence,’ the big holding companies don’t feature especially strongly although adam&eveDDB is part of Omnicom, Uncommon has succumbed to Havas and Burnett is part of Publicis.

Another threat is staying power. Uncommon and NCA are relatively new kids on the block but the others are much as they were. Holding company creative agencies can disappear overnight, of course, as JWT and Y&R have at WPP.

But what about the creative standards we’re trying to judge? In the UK the common opinion is that they aren’t what they used to be (although there are exceptions.) Why so?

The main reason is presumably the mass movement of media to digital (digital is even more dominant in the UK than elsewhere) and the consequent reduction in the number of ambitious TV campaigns that remain the shop window for creative agencies. ITV this year is about 11% down, Channel 4 is struggling too. Online video makes up some of the slack but not with the elan of TV ads of yore (above.) The great days of print seem over for ever.

Advertisers, of course, can spend their money where they (and their media agencies) see fit. They clearly don’t pay enough attention to Ad Contrarian Bob Hoffman’s strictures on the rampant fraud in the online ad ecosystem. Supposed measurement rules these days.

This isn’t to say that the same effort and craft doesn’t go into ads these days but the opportunities to excel are undoubtedly fewer, in the UK at least. Most agencies have one or two creative stand-outs but creative consistency is what we try to recognise.

See if you agree with our choice later this week.

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