The Directory Big Won Rankings 2013

The Editor’s Perspective

Issue 30 | March 2014

If you were still looking for proof that Direct is no longer what it used to be, then here you are, the Top 10 campaigns of 2013 and not a single instance of what you might call 'traditional' direct marketing among them.

MINI and SPCA is a tremendous exercise in PR, bringing together broadcasting and advertising with a series of innovative and intriguing partnerships.

PR was also the fuel that helped Hemoba, Recife and Coca-Cola accelerate out to millions through 'free' media.

In terms of media used, Facebook and YouTube were obviously important to Amnesty, Dove and Metro Trains respectively. But we also have Best Use of Bridge from Cheil, Seoul and Best Use of Vending Machine for Coca-Cola.

The first use of print is at No.13, serviceplan Mu¨nich's Daily Abuse for Innocence in Danger, which, is (a) for a charity and (b) a tad on the scammy side.

The first sense of any real direct marketing comes at No.17 with We Are David Bailey from Cheil London for the launch of the Samsung NX camera. And featured in Directory 26.

The first bit of mail comes in at No.34, with Leo Burnett’s Queen campaign for Pantone. Y&R Dubai’s Edible Survival Guide comes in at No.38.

Is this an issue? Well, yes and no.

Starting with no, Direct has become the most interesting of all the awards categories. If you are going to Cannes this summer, you can leave on Tuesday morning after the Direct and Promo awards, safe in the knowledge you will have seen 90% of the work that will win four days later in the Titanium and Integrated categories.

The fact that advertising is now measurable by the number of views, likes and shares it gets is good for creativity. If you produce a piece of work, which no-one wants to look at or comment upon, it tells you something. As I say when I visit friends in adland, there's good news and there's bad news. The good news is your creative work has to be fantastic to get noticed. The bad news is your creative work has to be fantastic to get noticed.

On the other hand, the soft numbers that Facebook and YouTube cough up are hard to turn into the hard numbers of new customers gained, increased purchase patterns and bottom-line profits.

And that's the yes bit. Direct agencies may feel justifiably aggrieved that their awards have been plucked from them by yesterday's 'above the line' agencies still doing brand advertising but in the digital space.

This is work intended to influence 'consumers' as opposed to direct marketing, which sets out to influence customers. People with names and addresses. People who may or may not part with their money because of the communications

The Daily Abuse is an innovative idea, an entire newspaper printed with the names of the thousands of children abused, and full credit to the team for the originality of the idea and for raising awareness. But in many ways, raising hard cash is a lot more difficult.

So, bravo to Leo Burnett Australia for raising around $2.8m AUD by turning sales of Bundaberg Rum into real aid for the restoration of the stricken city of Bundaberg.

The way they did it, though, was not to do what nine out of ten charities do and show harrowing pictures and shame readers into donations. They created 171 different labels for a special commemorative rum, a label each for the 171 flooded streets of the city. The bottles were available for collectors to buy. All they had to do was travel to Bundaberg to buy them. Bringing with them their tourist dollars.

And here’s the rub. A lot of traditional direct marketing agencies tend to do traditional direct marketing, which is often repetitive and unambitious with the results to prove it.

So, where I come out on this is, the Directory Big Won Rankings are an incentive to traditional DM agencies to realise the nature of their competition has changed. There is all to play for now. Agencies like Shackleton, AIM Proximity Auckland (now merged into Colenso BBDO), BMF Sydney and OgilvyOne London have shown the way. They are doing exciting work while remaining true to their roots.

In fact, OgilvyOne have been behind two of my favourite campaigns of 2013 – the ongoing Kern Experiment and Measure of Pleasure for Beyond Dark Chocolate (featured in Directory 28).

Direct agencies can move into new territories and both prosper and expand. Indeed, many are doing exactly that. Direct is providing the energy for the entire industry because it does not shirk from the hard questions or the hard answers.

Are awards important?

The numbers indicate that they mean a great deal to agencies.

They are, after all, the prime means of differentiation. And, by and large, a creatively successful agency will be able to charge a premium for its work as well as having an easier ride from client procurement teams.

A much-garlanded creative person will be much in demand in agencies wanting some of his or her magic dust, and, even though salaries are deflating across the industry, will be able to command a glittering package.

Of course, consistency is what you look for. Creative people who turn in award-winning work year in, year out.

So, what are the numbers

The 8,004 awards logged in the Directory

Big Won database represent an investment of just under €3 million in entry fees.

If you accept as a rule of thumb that only 10% of all submitted work wins either Bronze, Silver or Gold, then some €30 million was spent on hoping for an award of some sort.

There were 36,765 entries to Cannes 2013 alone which at a rough estimate would have cost around €18 million in entry fees.

As a rough estimate, including the shows we do not cover for one reason or another, the advertising awards business is worth over €60 million each year in entries alone.

McCann Erickson would have invested around €60,000 in submitting 'Dumb Ways to Die' to all the shows where it won.

Creativity is essential

Ten years ago, it could be argued that creativity was not necessarily a requirement for advertising success. The interruption model worked fine.

Today, however, with most consumers able to opt out of advertising by one means or another, only those campaigns which get noticed have any chance of having an effect. In other words, to cut through and become talked about in social media, ideas need to be more than just good. They need to be fantastic.

'Dumb Ways to Die' is the advertising phenomenon of 2013.

The original video has had over 68 million views on YouTube. The copies and parodies take that number to around 100 million views.

The song became a Top 10 iTunes hit in Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam. Wikipedia records there have been over 65 different cover versions.

As well as providing press and outdoor ads, it is also a game.

It has generated over 700 stories in online and offline media worth over $50 million "for a fraction the cost of one TV ad."

Dove 'Sketches' is estimated to have had 200 million views on YouTube. While it is true that not all of those came from 'earned' media, the fact remains that the creative idea had to be original, human and engaging in order to be as effective as it has been.

Ideas without actors

Even 10 years ago, the top campaigns in the Directory Big Won rankings tended to be TV and video spots, which had the benefit of being scripted, directed and acted.

Even the paradigm-busting 'BMW' campaign from Fallon Minneapolis fitted the model.

Compare and contrast with 2013.

The No.1 campaign in the world, 'Dumb Ways to Die', is a three and a half minute song.

The No.2 campaign (‘Driving Dogs’ from DraftFCB Auckland for MINI with a mutually beneficial tie-in with an animal rights organisation) was a stunt covered by broadcast TV as well as being a viral video.

The No.3 idea (‘My Blood is Red & Black from Leo Burnett Tailor Made Brazil for Hemoba) was based on changing the colours of a football team’s shirts.

The No.4 idea (‘Dove Sketches’) could never be mistaken for a commercial. It is a three-minute film.

The No.5 idea (‘Bridge of Life’ for Samsung by Cheil Seoul) is a bridge fitted with digital panels. 

No. 6 (‘Small World Machines’ for Coca-Cola out of Leo Burnett Sydney) is this year’s best use of vending machine.

No.7 (Nike+ Fuelband) is an example of digital coming off screens and into our physical world.

And so on.

Apart from ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ and No.8
(‘The Beauty Inside, Pereira O’Dell for Intel/ Toshiba) the strongest ideas seem to show us real people in real situations doing real things.

Long form

Note also that advertisements and content are not the same. While a number of adverts did well in the TV & Film category in 2013 - The Guardian’s ‘Three Little Pigs’ from BBH, ‘Beach’ from Wieden+Kennedy for Southern Comfort’ – it is noticeable that the blockbuster campaigns were all long-form. 

It seems people are happy to engage with content for three minutes (‘Dumb Ways to Die’) or longer (Dove ‘Sketches lasts for over six minutes)
or even longer (‘The Beauty Inside’ ran to six episodes, each more than six minutes long.)

The rise of Mobile

For ten years, predictions have been ‘This is the year of Mobile’. In 2013, it really was.

The fact ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ became an app designed at first for iPhone and iPad and (in September) made available for Android platforms is revealing.

Mobile Medic, George Patterson Y&R’s campaign for the Australian Defence Force, was another idea that recognised the fact that your handset is a lightning rod that can connect you with brands – not through messaging but through some sort of utility.

Nike+ Fuelband is not an ‘ad’. Nor is ‘Our Food, Your Questions’ for McDonald’s Canada from Tribal DDB Toronto. Neither is Adidas Finland’s ‘Window Shopping’ from TBWA Helsinki, nor Google Labs UK’s ‘Jam with Chrome’. They are expressions of an emerging brand truth – that communication is more powerful when brands do stuff rather than when they say things. When brands enable rather than when brands posture.

You can use your phone to walk a trail in the mountains (‘Nature Valley Trail’ from McCann Erickson New York, you can make reading with your children both a fun and a fund-raising experience.

In the Philippines, DM9 Jemesyfu got the No.1 Mobile spot with their ‘TXTBKS’ campaign for Smart Communications Philippines with an idea about loading school-books onto SIM cards so kids can turn their phones into learning tools. 

There is no overt message here. Simply a brand doing its civic duty. For which it hopes it will be rewarded with greater loyalty.

Creativity by region

Down under continues to exert a disproportionate pull on the global awards shows with ideas that are fresh, often innovative and usually funny. (The exception here being Colenso BBDO’s chillingly brilliant ‘Trial by Timeline’ work for Amnesty.)

For Australia to rank No.2 in the world is amazing. And with New Zealand at No.9, Singapore at No. 10, Japan at 12, China at 14 and Thailand at 19, the Asia-Pac region has claims to being more of a creative hub than Europe with six countries in the Top 20 or the Americas, which have four.

In the UK, BBH has come back from a couple of limp years but Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and Saatchi & Saatchi have had a torrid time.

However, agencies like Rubber Republic, Weapon 7 and 4 Creative have been winning awards at major international shows. Small and dynamic shops may well be showing the bigger, less agile agencies the way forward.

That said, Ogilvy has enjoyed a spectacular year as, indeed, has OgilvyOne. Combine their two scores and they would rank 4th in the world. Between the two of them, they have produced an impressive breadth of winning work for an impressive number of clients.

Germany is on the wane after a few years of great work across all channels from Jung von Matt and Scholz and Friends but Spain is the greatest casualty of all. While Pablo Alzugaray has argued that the economic woes of the country cannot be held responsible for

the comparatively weak showing of his own agency, Shackleton, (No. 201, down from a high of 6th in 2009) must surely indicate a lack of confidence in the region.

What next?

As always, rankings do not identify the lighthouse campaigns, which determine future directions.

However, hidden away in the smaller awards there are indications that at last press is beginning to become more interesting not just thanks to augmented reality (with Blippar technology making waves) but with innovative ideas such as Giovanni DraftFCB’s ‘Solar Charger’ idea for Nivea and JWT Sao Paulo’s ‘Amplifier’ idea for Coca-Cola Brazil.

As channel planning becomes increasingly complex, for a large multi-channel campaign to succeed requires new collaborations. What we are seeing are increasing numbers of awards won by agencies partnering with each other – creative agency, media agency and digital or branded content specialist working as one.

Less obvious but equally important is the collaborative role of the media owners (Google, Facebook and Twitter in particular) in helping brands use their platforms to best effect.

Thus ‘Oreos Daily Twist’ (No.11 Digital campaign) was produced in tandem with Twitter; while Google was able to help Topshop, the musician ALB, Lloyds Bank and even Dove win at Cannes with ideas that fully exploited their platforms.

We expect to see more of these partnerships in future as teams work together to find solutions to problems.

Partnerships, incidentally, not just between agencies but also between clients. MINI in New Zealand worked collaboratively with the SPCA with their ‘Driving Dogs’ idea and Intel and Toshiba came together to invest in the ‘Beauty Inside’ campaign from Pereira O’Dell.

Expect more in 2014.

About The Directory Big Won rankings

The first Big Won rankings were compiled in 2003, focusing on Direct Marketing and Promo awards under the name of The Won Report.

By 2005 it was apparent that the distinction between ‘above the line’ and ‘below the line’ was so blurred as to be almost non-existent and The Won Report became The Big Won rankings as we began to look at all media categories.

In 2007 when Patrick and Dorte Collister founded Directory magazine and resource with the backing of Xtreme Information, the rankings then came under the Directory umbrella.

The rankings are compiled by entering into a database awards results from international, regional and local advertising awards shows.

There are anomalies in the system in that some countries do not have awards shows – a number of shows ceased to function with the economic woes of 2009.

There is an inherent bias towards English- speaking countries in that many of the major international shows are hosted in the USA.

The rankings of creative directors, copywriters and art directors are as accurate as it is possible to be, given that some awards shows will not release the winners’ names. Our researchers do what they can to obtain the data.

When it comes to ranking planners and account services personnel, the rankings come with a health warning.
They can be regarded as no more than a rough guide since many shows do not ask for their names and many agencies do not supply them in their awards submissions.

For any questions about your personal ranking in the last five years or your agency’s ranking, please email [email protected]

Submit Your Work

Send us your work for the next issue of Directory using our submissions form

The Caples Awards 2020

View 2020 Winners


Inspiration monthly via Email

Sign Up

Current Issue

Issue 55

Subscribe to Directory

Subscribe now and get instant online access to our 2,500+ articles