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DDB top of the pile at Fairfax Admedia awards, but changes to judging criteria critiqued

The Fairfax Admedia Agency of the Year awards were dished out at 1885 in Britomart this week. And while there were the usual mutterings about the decisions—and some other mutterings about changes to the judging criteria—DDB New Zealand came away with the biggest haul after being handed three of the top awards, including Agency of the Year, CEO of the Year for Sandy Moore and Rookie Suit of the Year for Zoe Macfarlane's work on McDonald's.

For the second year in a row, Special Group, which has only been around for three years, took out indie agency of the year and was also judged runner-up in the grown-ups section, agency of the year, which saw it beat out the likes of Colenso and DraftFCB after doubling revenue and increasing before-tax profit by 118 percent.

While there's no doubt DDB, which is now home to an impressive 240 staff, is at the top of its game, there were some interesting developments in the judging process this year. The weighting for creativity was decreased from 25 percent to 15 percent, business performance went from 33 percent to 30 percent and categories like community involvement were deemed almost as important as creativity. And for one industry cad, it shows that it is an awards ceremony that doesn't quite know what it's meant to be for and doesn't know what it's judging. To them, decreasing the importance of creativity when deciding on the best agencies in the country "was like trying to judge the carmaker of the year but not judging the car".

The judges Cindy Mitchener, former Colenso BBDO chairman Roger Macdonnell, and writer/publisher Reg Birchfield noticed the changes and in his editorial in AdMedia, David Gapes said the weightings would return to their previous levels for next year's awards.

Also interesting to note is that DDB didn't win an EFFIE this year. But it made up for that with very solid numbers, with Fastline reporting that it had its third consecutive year of record revenue/profit delivery, its new business revenue was up 12 percent and costs/salaries increased by just seven percent.

Affinity ID continued its stellar run of accolades after its RSVP and Nexus success, taking out the interactive category and coming second in the Independent agency category. This was on the back of revenue growing by 13 percent, expenses by three percent and before-tax profit by 129 percent. And with a new office opening in Australia soon, that looks set continue.

DraftFCB took out the media agency of the year ahead of quickly-growing indie Naked Communications and it was also judged runner-up in the interactive category.

Bryan Crawford and Sonja Corbett, both from DraftFCB, were runners up in the CEO and Rookie Suit section respectively; Geoff Ross was handed the Wildcard Special Award and former Y&R head Ross Goldsack was the only one to be inducted into the NZ Post Advertising Hall of Fame.

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