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DDB takes out local agency derby, justONE and OMD take category wins

Success is fairly subjective in adland. Depending on who you're talking to, it can be about the cash earned, growth rates achieved, accounts gained or creative plaudits won. And while DDB Group hasn't quite had the run of things when it comes to awards of late, its "exceptional" business performance over the past year was enough to win it the 2012 Fairfax AdMedia Supreme Agency of the Year last night at the Imperial Lane Bar & Restaurant, adding to the agency of the year titles it has recently been awarded by the NBR, Campaign Brief and Campaign Asia Pacific. DraftFCB was a close runner-up, justONE won specialist agency of the year and OMD took the media title. 

Not surprisingly, DDB's managing director Justin Mowday wouldn't discuss the specifics of the exceptional performance (as DDB Group is global company, the group's financial statements are available on the Companies Office. Here's the latest one from mid-2011), aside from saying the judges recognised that attaining any kind of growth when you're "already a goliath" versus, for example, attaining 25 percent growth when you're coming from a smaller base, is harder to do. And while he admits the creative nominations and trophies may not have been flowing as freely as they have been in previous years, winning the creatively-focused Campaign Brief and Campaign Asia-Pacific titles, as well as the business-focused local gongs, shows the agency is in pretty good all-round form.

"Any way you look at it, we're killing it," he says.

The judges said DraftFCB, which has won a couple of massive accounts recently and most of the big awards of late, was a very close second, but the judges said DDB, which also won the Advertising Agency of the Year award for the second time running, is "the most considered, disciplined, consistent and buttoned-down shop in town".

Group chief executive Sandy Moore won the chief executive of the year award for the second time in a row, ahead of DraftFCB’s Bryan Crawford.

This year marked the first that CAANZ had thrown its weight in behind this award, marking a departure from its objective stance of previous years. There were also category changes, with the independent, direct and interactive agency of the year awards removed and  replaced by the specialist category. Auckland-based justONE took that title, ahead of joint runners-up Catch!Media and Fuse Network.

justONE, which was a finalist last year in direct and interactive, won the second most awards at the RSVPs including two golds for Subway and Farmers and "has the best agency photo going" according to managing director Ben Goodale, is a 1-1 specialist with a consumer focus. And the judges gave it the nod as a result of its very clear vision, single-mindedness, strategic bent and clever positioning.

"justONE is many, many smart talented people who are passionate about 1-1," Goodale says. "We've virtually doubled in size in the last year, and as you know, we've have been very busy on behalf of new and existing clients including Farmers, BNZ, Subway, IBM, Farmlands, GIB, Mercury and Ziera."

Media Agency of the Year was awarded to OMD, with the runner-up Spark PHD. Much like DDB, the judges appeared to attach more weight to a big guy getting bigger. "OMD already was No 1 and, the judges observed, it’s hard to improve from there. Nevertheless, in a hard market they did this exceptionally well. OMD is incredibly slick, with a great work ethic,” the release said.

The Rookie of the Year went to Scott Milat of DDB Group, ahead of finalists Vicky Anderson (OMD), Lucy Cole (DraftFCB), and Jenny Zhao (Total Media). Milat won because he demonstrated leadership qualities that led the panel to believe he has real potential to be part of an agency senior management team. He showed the right balance between spark and professionalism.

The Wildcard Award, which cannot be entered and is chosen by the judges based on outstanding achievement, went to local indie darlings Shine and Special Group, neither of whom entered this year’s awards.

The judges said Special was “perhaps the best indie agency in the world" and said Shine was a very good business that specialises in non-traditional work.

"ECD Lucien Law and co-owner Simon Curran are multi-skilled operators. Shine would have been right up there among the winners, had it chosen to enter the Specialist Agency category.”

The judges also inducted film director Tony Williams (Toyota Crumpie, The Great Crunchie Train Robbery, Toyota Bugger and Telecom Spot) into the AdMedia NZ Post Advertising Hall of Fame.

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