Advertising Agency of the Year 2019: Adam & Eve/DDB
While the diversity of Adam & Eve/DDB’s clientele allows it to showcase its best work, it’s the agency’s creativity that allows it to rise to the challenge and shine. Winner of agency of the year for an unprecedented sixth time since its inception in 2012 – and the most recent agency of the decade – it has been responsible for some of the UK’s best-loved adverts, in particular its campaigns by Christmas John Lewis.
The most recent of these, “Excitable Edgar,” was not only cute and sentimental, but also ruled all other Christmas commercials; it garnered more than 36 million views, ran in 121 locations, and was the most searched Christmas ad of the year, according to Google Trends.
To achieve such consistent success for the John Lewis brand is impressive; ads that might have descended into the formulaic, nostalgic, and predictable are instead (mostly) imbued with imaginative, playful, and childlike fun, and manage to elicit enthusiastic anticipation from an otherwise watchful audience, at the at best, fatigue and, at worst, outright contempt for publicity in general.
James Murphy and David Golding, two of the agency’s founders, who left the store in 2019, are widely credited with the success of John Lewis adverts over the past 10 years, thanks to their relationship with the former client director of the retailer, Craig Inglis. So industry watchers will watch with interest the work ahead as the agency enters the next decade in the able hands of co-CEOs Tammy Einav and Mat Goff.
But it’s not just the “never knowingly undersold” retailer. Adam & Eve/DDB created other famous works by hypnotizing people into loving Marmite, inspiring kids to fight vegetables for Veg Power, turning Jeff Bridges into a physical bridge for Amstel, encouraging people to keep speaking up for CALM and persuading people. read Enid Blyton famous five books again for GWR. The latter has generated a ROMI of 428% since its launch in 2017, and in 2019 the agency moved things forward by releasing a famous five reserved for all customers of the GWR network.
Having proven itself for a rail operator client, in November the agency won Avanti, a new West Coast Partnership brand, which took over the West Coast Mainline franchise from Virgin Trains. The multi-media campaign is expected to launch soon with a media spend of £5m.
The agency also emerged victorious in three of the year’s biggest pitches. First, he won the £58million Virgin Media account in March, following a pitch against Havas and Wonderhood Studios. In October, it delivered the first two chapters of a new brand platform, Unlimiting, via two integrated campaigns that boosted sales of Virgin’s premium package. Next, he beat Lucky Generals, Droga5 and Mother to the £9m advertising account for Lucozade, and finally, he picked up the global PlayStation account after a six-month pitch process. He has since produced seven successful adverts for PlayStation, with four already live in 2019. Thirty days after launching his first “The fall” campaign, for the brand’s on-demand service, “Now”, subscribers to it had increased by 50%.
However, Adam & Eve/DDB is not content to win new contracts. It was also the second most awarded British agency at Cannes, British Arrows Agency of the Year, APG Agency of the Year, Joint Effie Agency of the Year… the list goes on.
He was applauded by Countryside Agency of the Year is judged not only for its “impressive award,” but also for creative effectiveness, client relationships, revenue growth, new business, and business performance. An Agency of the Year judge said of Adam & Eve/DDB’s performance, “Still up there, leading the pack on many fronts, including a number of creative highlights and strong case studies for Marmite, GWR and Amstel, to name a few.”
In terms of expertise, the agency bolstered its offering with some major appointments, including Tom Roach as Head of Efficiency and Imali Hettiarachi as Director of Planning, both from Bartle Bogle Hegarty . It also hosted Bonnie Doman and Anna Whitaker, a creative team that joined the Creative Equals Returnship program, where parents who have left the workplace are offered a pathway back into the industry. They were joined by creative team Ed Usher and Xander Hart, formerly of BBC Creative.
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
New leadership and direction shaped the start of the decade for Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, where Managing Director Sarah Douglas and Creative Director Alex Grieve’s goal was to refocus it on the power of creativity as a weapon of competitive advantage for customers. In his most award-winning year, he continued to produce winning work and drive business growth for clients including Bodyform, Guinness and Asda.
In turn, he recognized the creativity of Nadja Lossgott and Nicholas Hulley, who became the agency’s fifth generation executive creative directors, having created the multi-award-winning “Blood normal” campaign for Bodyform/Libresse, and “Sappers” for Guinness. As one Agency of the Year judge put it, “An AMV reinvigorated, reborn and stronger than ever, with creativity put back at the heart. A very impressive and purpose-driven creation.” Indeed, last year it won five pitches out of six and became the highest ranked company in its sector in Europe in the FinancialTimes‘ Diversity Leaders Report.
This is the year Lucky Generals decided he could break up the United States. Its New York office opening drew billings of around $85 million in its first nine months, with wins including five brands from AB InBev, as well as work in progress from Celebrity Cruises, the cloud communications provider Vonage and wedding website The Knot. Back in the UK, Lucky Generals retained their existing clients and won other projects led by Amazon, AB InBev and Taylors, while taking over Zoopla and producing outstanding work for the TimeTo campaign.
The agency outperformed market growth by 4%, increasing revenue by 63% and profit by 59%. It also swelled its ranks by 33% (vs. the industry decline of 5%) and kept employee turnover at 7% (vs. an industry average of 31%). An Agency of the Year judge said, “They have a point of view and aren’t afraid to express it. It sounds like a smart, thoughtful, courageous and principled agency. It makes you want to to work there.”
As one Agency of the Year judge commented, “The results speak for themselves. Indeed, 2019 was the fourth consecutive year in which McCann UK recorded double-digit growth, propelling McCann Worldgroup UK to the top agency network in terms of revenue by more than 50%. He has created award-winning work that has provided brand lens for Microsoft, Aldi, L’Oreal Paris, Vauxhall, Alzheimer’s Society UK and the Wimbledon Tennis Championships and has won awards for creativity and efficiency, across the Cannes Lions, Effies, IPA and Warc.
With a talented UK team spanning Manchester, Leeds, Central England and London, she has also demonstrated her commitment to diversity by appointing Sufia Parkar as Regional Director, Diversity and Engagement for Europe and the UK .
Having held the crown of Agency of the Year last year, Mother is undeniably enjoying creative success and is now beginning to show evidence of consistent efficiency, long-term client partnerships and a more adult and formalized to support the Mother culture that sets apart.
This leads to revenue and new business growth and, most importantly, staff development and retention. As one judge commented, “It really feels like Mother went through some growing pains and is now consistently at the top of her game.” The judges also applauded Mother for her impressive work with KFC, Ikea and Elvie.
In 2019, The & Partnership was proud to beat Interpublic and Publicis to win the Centrica account, the UK’s biggest holding company pitch of the year, worth £100m in billing in the world. This contributed to a year of double-digit growth, as well as other wins such as NatWest, Kerry Foods, a UK List nomination from Samsung and organic growth from RBS Innovation Brands, Sainsbury’s Tu and Argos .
The agency is spreading its wings with a launch in Manchester, initially to serve long-time client TalkTalk as well as expanding its network in the UK. “An agency clearly on the rise,” as one Agency of the Year judge put it.
Uncommon Creative Studio
It all started 26 months ago with three people, three borrowed desks and no clients. Over that time, Uncommon has grown to 55 people, working with over 26 brands, generating over £9m in revenue and owning a stake in the Halo coffee business. Her reputation has also grown, producing disruptive work for brands such as Brewdog and her non-alcoholic beer brand, Punk AF.
He produced a slick debut campaign for ITV in early 2019, featuring well-known characters from the channel and raising the bar for the agency’s creativity. An Agency of the Year judge said, “It’s great to see a new agency tackle the big boys and deliver some shine.”
In a year littered with mergers, profit warnings and new management teams, VCCP kept its cool, becoming the UK’s largest independent agency, claiming a pitch-win ratio of 88% and 25 new customers in 2019. After achieving 6% growth, he sees this strong performance as “the next bear trap to be maneuvered skillfully”. While many agencies cut deals at this stage of their development — which could cost them the creative bravery and efficiency that got them there in the first place — VCCP is determined to remain a challenger agency.
In 2019, it introduced 30 million new customers to the Cadbury brand globally and created a cohesive story for easyJet which saw the brand overtake British Airways to become the number one airline consumers would consider the most to travel, according to Kantar Brand Tracker. He has also created campaigns for Domino’s, Paddy Power and O2.