The Won Report 2012

Issue 26 | March 2013

The Editor’s Perspective

The Won Report started in 2003 as a ‘below the line’ version of the ‘above the line’ Gunn Report. Within a couple of years, advertising categories all began melting into each other and we began following all media channels to create the annual Directory Big Won Rankings.

This, however, is a look under the bonnet of Direct Marketing specifically in 2012 particularly.

Looking at the Top 10 agencies, it is amazing that there are any specialist Direct agencies still able to compete since the Direct categories have largely been swamped by advertising agencies now moving into that territory of ‘measurement by results’ which used to be the preserve of the so-called ‘below the line’ specialists.

So, bravo to OgilvyOne London and Proximity London.

Proximity has been the most creative Direct agency in the UK pretty much ever since the rankings began, though they have been toppled this year by OgilvyOne, who have done well off the back of “The Gnome Experiment” for Kern.

It can’t have been easy for either of them, with voracious sister agencies eying them up for both income and creative opportunities, especially in the no-man’s land which is digital.

Around the world, with the exception of the UK and the USA, it seems  that the distinctions between above and below the line have all but disappeared. The name of the No.3 Direct agency in the world, Whybin/TBWA/Tequila tells its own story. What were once three separate specialisms are now available under one roof.

Clients need joined up thinking. But they aren’t getting it while they insist on buying their communications in separate places as they do in the UK and the US. It may do a client’s ego good to have separate agencies for his or her broadcast advertising, direct marketing, digital communications and PR but it sure as heck doesn’t do the work any favours.

In addition to which, when clients have to buy their ideas in two separate places and with two separate agendas as they do these days, thanks to the creative agency/media agency split, they find it hard to join the two back together again.

That seems to be why the smaller markets are producing the most interesting work. Because the clients there have just one budget to allocate to just one agency on the basis that there needs to be one solution to the problem – however many channels it may require.

The world

The question is, who is doing the most interesting work and where?

The Americans seem to be the technology pioneers. They do things first.

But the Brazilians seem to be the most inventive. They learn fast so that what they do with technology is often more inspiring than anything the first-movers do.

They seem to be connecting the virtual and real worlds in wonderful new ways – e.g. DDB Brazil for C&A \’Fashion Likes” and, more recently, ‘Look Block’. (

The Belgians understand that being sociable is making people laugh. And they are very, very good at that. Maybe not having a Government for two years helped? As agencies around the world do more and more cool stuff, Duval Guillaume especially understand the importance of human warmth with viural sensations such as ‘TNT – Push Button’. (

The Swedes are way, way ahead on anything and everything mobile though juries have not been as kind to Akestam Holst and Forsman & Bodenfors as they might have been. Akestam Holst’s ‘Heist’ for Pause was a campaign that got people actively engaged with the brand – and in the middle of the night! (

The Danes are as good as anyone else in the world but simply can’t be bothered to enter awards.

The Spanish have taken a kicking with the economic downturn in the Euro zone but they will be back. Shackleton remains one of the six agencies I for one would most like to work at. I loved the viral they made for Action Against Hunger, ‘The Share Experiment’. (

The Australians seem slightly mesmerised by their neighbours, the Kiwis. Because the New Zealanders seem to be doing everything right. At the Axis Awards, Special Group made a video arguing that New Zealand is the most creative country in the world with one Cannes Lion won per every 155,989 people. ( They may well be right, with Colenso BBDO Auckland a worthy No.1 agency in 2012. 

Lebanon must run them pretty close. Inytriguingly, Beirut agencies enjoyed spectacular success in PR categories at all the major shows. Maybe this is where agencies can pick up ‘easy’ awards with any idea that has attracted column inches of ‘earned’ media.

The UK is at a big disadvantage in rankings such as The Big Won because agencies are glued into their respective silos by clients. Thus it is almost impossible for agencies to author the sort of big, integrated campaigns that win gongs across multiple categories.   

Take Leo Burnett’s ‘Book Burning Party’ for Troy Library. It won awards in Outdoor, Direct marketing, Media. Digital, Alternative & Innovative, Integrated and PR categories.

‘The Return of Ben Ali’ for Memac Ogilvy Label Tunisia also won in eight different categories. ‘BYO Cup Day’ win in 6 categories for Leo Burnett Melbourne.

By contrast, OgilvyOne’s ‘Gnome Experiment’ for Kern won in just two, Direct Marketing and Digital. (

‘Dips Desperado’, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO’s campaign for Doritos won in three.

‘Three Little Pigs’ for the Guardian out of BBH won in just three as well.

In the UK and the USA, there are clearly emotional reasons for keeping as large a roster of agencies as possible because, rationally, there are precious few.

Declining Mail

One of my personal sadnesses is that around the world there appears to be less and less Mail being created. As a small business, Mail is an essential part of our very slender communications armoury here at Directory. In B2B especially it is a brilliant way of getting through to the big cheeses in organisations you really need to tap up.

I guess one of the reasons for this is that with the increasingly skilful application of data, Mail is becoming invisible. If a campaign comprises hundreds of variations on a theme, then it’s hard to judge it at awards shows.

We saw an example of this recently. TMW sent us a campaign for the Nissan Leaf with two very different executions, determined by the data Indicia had unearthed about the two target audiences most likely to be interested in an electric car. The work itself was professional. The cleverness was all in the science rather than the art of Direct.

The compensation for the decline of Mail is in the increasing richness of Direct as a category.

It has become a complex, multi-channel discipline with an invitation to agencies to innovate. There are new ways of talking to customers in new places, getting closer to the decision point both in terms of time and geography.

The trouble is with these inventive new ideas is that they seldom get to the top of any rankings list. Partly that’s because they don’t actually fit any awards category and partly because it is human nature to give awards to ideas that are familiar. Sometimes the greatness of a great idea takes time to filter through.

So here is the Editor’s personal pick of some of the most interesting and intriguing ideas of 2012, which have not appeared in any of the rankings. Ten innovations, either in terms of strategy, technology or in execution, chosen by an utterly biased jury of one.

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 now and get the next 4 issues + 5 passwords to the online archive, now with over 5,000 case studies


People Also Read