A ten-year-old independent, the7stars, won Agency of the Year not only because of its new-business record but also because the judges were impressed by its open culture that gives staff the freedom to be "slightly anarchic", with a profit share that is spread evenly.
Channel 4 won Sales Team of the Year, proving that a state-owned not-for-profit can be commercially innovative. (Is John Whittingdale listening?)
And OMD UK, part of a big agency group, collected the most awards, including the Grand Prix for its striking work with Channel 4 on Humans.
These awards matter to media people because they are judged by the harshest audience – their own peer group. And the results were always likely to provoke debate. Some eyebrows were raised that the7stars should win Agency of the Year without picking up any category awards. But Guardian Labs’ Anna Watkins, the co-chair of judges, makes the point that the Agency of the Year judges did not know the outcome of the other awards.
It’s not easy to compare the7stars and MediaCom, which is part of a global network and made a very professional case with its new-business record. But it has to be a positive if an independent can thrive at a time of media consolidation – particularly when there hasn’t been another independent Agency of the Year winner since Naked Communications more than a decade ago.
Judging Sales Team of the Year was even harder, according to M2M’s Alistair MacCallum, the other co-chair, because the range of shortlisted media owners was so varied, from online (Facebook, Auto Trader) and outdoor (JCDecaux) to TV (Channel 4, ITV) and news (the Telegraph), all with very different business models.
The modern media owner is changing fast as it becomes more involved in the creation and execution of content for brands. Think of the Telegraph’s award-winning partnership with Kenco that involved sending journalists to Honduras to report on the coffee brand’s work with gangs.
We hear a lot about how the media business is increasingly global, yet the feedback from the judges was that many of the entries for International Campaign of the Year were not genuinely global and failed to explain how the work was tweaked to suit each country.
I can’t take any credit or blame for this year’s awards as I have only just joined as the head of media at Campaign and editor of Media Week. But we want to ensure next year’s awards do an even better job of defining each category, identifying the key criteria and celebrating the best work. Please get in touch with suggestions.