Close-Up: Live Issue - Omnicom's networks shine in Gunn's new creative ranking

Just how representative is the new consolidated Gunn Report?

Agencies around the globe have been squabbling for years over which of them has the strongest creative credentials.

Taking gold at any of the top awards shows, along with being recognised as a national leader, is no longer enough. In the increasingly global advertising community, being the best in the world seems to be the only accolade that matters for clients and agencies.

According to the consolidated Gunn Report 1999 to 2003, BBDO Worldwide is the most-awarded agency network of the past five years. Separately, the London arm of the network, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, earned second spot in the most awarded advertising agencies category.

Exactly how the gradings are determined remains one of the industry's most closely guarded secrets, known only by the report's creator, Donald Gunn, an ex-Cannes jury president and a former worldwide head of creative resources at Leo Burnett.

Meticulously researched and based on an intricate points system, the report totals up the winners from the key creative awards ceremonies across the 17 advertising markets where creative networks operate. Once the collating has been done, the story goes that Gunn "breathes" on the report to ensure all the participants are in their rightful places.

His move to produce a five-year table demonstrates how the report has gathered momentum since its conception in 1999. It has earned a cult status while fuelling the increasingly cut-throat nature of a creative world eager to create an international league of champions.

Much more than telling us what the average award-winner already knows, the report presents a unique insight into whether agencies and networks are consistently delivering the goods.

Craig Davis, J. Walter Thompson's recently installed chief creative officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, believes The Gunn Report has become a key indicator of agency performance.

He says: "Award success is now being seen by marketers as a serious measure of network capability and as an oracle for success in the real world.

"Witness the increase in the number of client registrations at Cannes this year, and the acknowledgement by Procter & Gamble last year that award success is more predictive of market success than their best testing methodologies. The Gunn Report may not be perfect, but it's one of the best barometers of creativity we've got."

The networks that dominate the chart have generally produced multiple blockbuster campaigns. In the case of BBDO, there was Guinness "surfer" in 2000, as well as the print work for Guinness Extra Cold bringing in a combined score of 42. Fed-Ex "box" from BBDO's Thailand agency netted a further 20 points.

DDB, meanwhile, picked up 31 points for Volkswagen "wedding" in 1999 and a further 33 points for Budweiser's "whassup?" in 2000.

Nick Fox, the DDB international senior vice-president, says there is definitely an appetite for such a comparative survey. More importantly, he admits it can influence new business.

He says: "I'm getting involved with big multinational business because of the report. Clients now take it seriously and the boardrooms of the major agency networks are very aware of it."

He adds: "Arguably, Cannes or D&AD are at the other end of the spectrum, as they are awarded to creative work of the highest calibre. But The Gunn Report is a different game. It is a global attempt to award the efforts made in even the most remote markets."

In reality, the odds are stacked in the favour of the advertising powerhouses.

Take this year's winner in the TV commercials category - "the sculptor" by Euro RSCG for Peugeot 206. Arguably, the ad was destined to triumph because it was entered for almost every award ceremony possible, which pulls in the points according to Gunn's system.

The many thousands of pounds needed to enter a wide range of awards would be a worthwhile investment for an international network needing to polish up its creative credentials, but would be beyond the reach of most start-ups.

But just how much notice does the industry take of the report? As the business has become more international, it seems people have been forced to listen to what is happening in every corner of the globe.

Hence, what started out as the Leo Burnett World Beaters, thanks to Gunn's intention to prove that creativity sells, has quickly become adapted for a wider audience.

Ogilvy & Mather's former executive creative director Patrick Collister says: "Wall Street and the City are constantly looking for any way of measuring agencies against each other. But in many ways, The Gunn Report is a complete nonsense. If you want to win, you just have to have a strategy."

But where The Gunn Report's true value lies is in its uniqueness. It has no rival and is the only existing measure of global creativity.

MOST-AWARDED AGENCY NETWORKS, 1999 - 2003

Gunn Report winner points

Rank Agency network 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 Total

1 BBDO Worldwide 135 135 126 144 135 675

2 DDB Worldwide 148 108 118 126 107 607

3 Saatchi & Saatchi 79 85 96 127 110 497

4 TBWA Worldwide 91 85 94 97 129 496

5 Leo Burnett 58 85 130 95 90 458

6 Lowe 67 63 74 80 77 361

7 Ogilvy 56 52 88 65 51 312

8 Young & Rubicam 47 36 48 67 32 230

9 McCann-Erickson 16 29 37 47 42 171

10 Euro RSCG 21 37 47 26 33 164

Source: The Gunn Report 1999-2003.

MOST-AWARDED TV ADS, 1999 - 2003

Rank Advertiser/Title of ad Agency Points

1 Budweiser whassup? DDB Chicago 33

2 John West Salmon bear Leo Burnett London 31

3 The Independent litany Lowe London 30

4 Guinness surfer Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO 28

5= Levi's Engineered Jeans twist Bartle Bogle Hegarty 27

5= NSPCC cartoon Saatchi & Saatchi London 27

7= Outpost.com band, cannon,

forehead Cliff Freeman & Partners 25

7= Reebok sofa Lowe London 25

9 QTV Danster Mother 24

10 Fox Sports TV regional Cliff Freeman & Partners 23

Source: The Gunn Report 1999-2003

MOST-AWARDED PRINT ADS, 1999 - 2003

Rank Advertiser/Title of ad Agency Points

1 Volkswagen/affordability wedding DDB London 31

2 Club 18-30 bar, beach, pool Saatchi & Saatchi

London 27

3 Fed-Ex box BBDO Thailand 20

4 VW of America Hey, there's a ... Arnold Worldwide 17

5 Levi's Classic Men's 501s hugging Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Singapore 16

6= Dulux Paints pregnant, sunburn Lowe Bull Calvert & Pace 15

6= Guinness Extra Cold lolly,

iceberg, fan, nipple Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO 15

6= John West Tuna fishing Leo Burnett London 15

6= VW of America/Beetle relaunch

heart, soul Arnold Worldwide 15

10 Campaign Brief Asia Cecilia, Saatchi & Saatchi Hong

Marc, Antoni Kong 14

Source: The Gunn Report 1999-2003.

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