Opinion: Perspective - No apologies for Agency of the Year consistency

By Claire Beal, claire.beale@haynet.com, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 10 December 2004 12:00AM

It's practically 12 months since the debate and lobbying (subtle at first, increasingly less so) began for this year's Agency of the Year candidates.

You'll find the results of our deliberations further on in this issue (page 25) - though there can't be many of our readers who haven't already devoured those pages, slavering and gnashing over the results.

So, by now you have probably discovered that Bartle Bogle Hegarty is - once again - our Creative Agency of the Year, despite a stunning performance - once again - by Clemmow Hornby Inge. And you'll probably already know that MindShare is - once again - our Media Agency of the Year, despite a fantastic showing - once again - by MediaCom. And that Dare is - once again - our Digital Agency.

I make no apologies for our consistency with some of last year's choices.

In a year like the one we've just had, head-and-shoulder performance was hard to achieve. Bah-humbug it might appear, but there is no doubt that the past 12 months have seen too few creative peaks, business innovations or challenges to the conventions of our industry.

Of course, there have been plenty of stunning headlines (Garry Lace and Grey, and Ben Mark Orlando, to name but two) and Sir Martin Sorrell has again proved to be the phenomenal force on the global stage. Aside from that, it's been a bit of a damp year, really; exciting sparks from agencies have been few and far between. In so many ways this is hardly surprising, and the fact that the industry is ending the year in pretty strong fettle is the real achievement. There have been so many disruptions and distractions this year that real leaps forward have been hard to effect.

The media landscape in which we all operate has changed - from consolidation in ITV and radio, to scandal and sale at the Telegraph, to compact papers, and the growing potency of new media and direct communications. Meanwhile, agencies have had to contend with leviathan threats to their freedom to promote certain products, the procurement director continues his assault on agency finances and the recession has not yet shot its last arrow.

Against such a backdrop, the performance of our Agency of the Year winners represents a remarkable achievement. For those who are repeating last year's accolades and for our new winners, there has been so much to celebrate this year. I hope that this issue of Campaign helps to cap their successes.

Congratulations, too, to David Pattison, the nominee as the next president of the IPA. He's not quite what we were expecting; the IPA had set itself the challenge of looking beyond the conventional, besuited adman and bets were on that the IPA would this week unveil its first female president.

While the body itself is pretty female-heavy and certainly more progressive than ever, somehow it has not quite shaken off its greying, establishment image. For too long it has seemed, in its outward manifestations, too much of a (middle-aged) male bastion. And too dominated by traditional agency executives to really reflect the dramatic changes in the communications agency world.

The reality now, though, is that the fall in the numbers of traditional creative-agency members means that the IPA must look beyond its established constituency to find new members, new revenue and new lifeblood.

Well, Pattison is male and middle- aged but he's still an inspired choice to be the next president, and promises to bring a new approach and perspective.

He's the first president with a media independent background, though he is old enough to have served his apprenticeship in full-service agencies.

So he should help bridge the chasm between the creative and media communities.

His appointment could be the most significant step towards an IPA that represents the communications industry in the round.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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