Advertising Network of the Year: DDB Worldwide

Innovative work from local offices, 79 Cannes Lions and rapid expansion, including buying Adam & Eve, played their part in a game-changing year

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In a year when the judges looked for strong work, new-business performance and innovation, DDB Worldwide emerged triumphant with the best all-round case. Its purchase of Adam & Eve to prop up its ailing DDB UK operation, now overseen by Adam & Eve’s James Murphy, proved a shrewd move and one that will hopefully restore this outpost of the DDB Worldwide network to its former glory days. The early evidence looks promising.

Global new-business reviews were generally rather few and far between in 2012, but DDB had its share of the spoils. The start of the year saw the network win the global digital Heineken account, to be run out of Tribal DDB Amsterdam, as well as the global Accorhotels business out of Paris.

Further success followed with Electrolux handing DDB its pan-Asian and pan-European advertising account, which was previously with Lowe Worldwide. There were also smaller regional wins across a range of clients from different categories, such as Hertz in Australia and New Zealand.

Organic growth proved a more successful vein, given the paucity of global accounts for the network to get its teeth into. Unilever handed DDB more Lipton business for North America, while McDonald’s extended its relationship with the network across various regions. Johnson & Johnson also selected DDB to work on a number of additional assignments around the world, including the K-Y and Rembrandt brands in North America and the global feminine care portfolio of the Stayfree, Carefree and OB brands.

However, it was in the creativity sphere where DDB shone, picking up 79 Lions at Cannes 2012, achieved by 27 offices in 23 countries.

Work for key global clients such as McDonald’s and Volkswagen – for which the London executive creative director, Jeremy Craigen, took over global creative responsibility – continued to impress, particularly for the new Beetle. Credit should go to Amir Kassaei, the global chief creative officer, and his team.

Among its highlights was a campaign from DDB China Group Shanghai for Family Care for Grassroots Community, which wanted China’s population to spend less time online and more with their family. After interviewing families who have poor relationships due to the overuse of computers, DDB worked with clay-sculpting artists to create figurines of the family members in situations they had discussed. The figures were placed in separate sealed glass jars arranged in the configuration of a keyboard.

The installation went on show in a Shanghai shopping centre initially and then extended to outdoor plazas and stations. In two months, an estimated 1.8 million people saw the installation, 89 per cent of whom said they would like to spend less time online and more with their families.

In Sweden, DDB Stockholm teamed up with the Swedish armed forces to tackle the challenge of recruiting disengaged young people to an occupation that requires them to give up their own comfort for others. The agency staged a scenario in which a person was locked up in a small bunker in the centre of Stockholm and was prepared to sit there until someone took his place.

Every hour, the door was opened – if someone was there, he was free; if not, he had to wait for another hour. In 89 hours, 74 people sacrificed their own freedom for someone they had never met. The campaign site had more than 100,000 visitors and applications to the armed forces doubled.

Among DDB’s new initiatives, DDB New York launched the "I care" button, the product of a creative pro bono project that caters to the impassioned discussions about global issues across social networks. Designed to be used when the "like" button as seen on Facebook seems inappropriate, the "I care" button can be embedded as an alternative expression of engagement with a given topic.

DDB Worldwide, led by the chief executive, Chuck Brymer, launched a global creative centre in Shanghai to reinforce its commitment and investment in the region.

There was also an expansion of the DDB network that shows its ambition. Aside from the Adam & Eve acquisition, new offices were opened in Gothenburg to bolster its Swedish footprint to manage the Telia, Willy’s and Novartis accounts. DDB Canada launched a partnership with the Quebec creative shop Bleublancrouge, while a new agency was established in Indonesia. The Vietnam office was acquired in its entirety, while a majority stake was taken in Mudra Communications to create DDB Mudra in India. The Tribal DDB network also expanded with new offices in Argentina, Ireland, Uruguay and Puerto Rico. A partnership was established in Africa, MW DDB, that covers seven markets in West and Central Africa and is one of the top-three agencies in these countries with clients including Google, MTN and Asky Airlines.

Ogilvy & Mather

Right at the end of 2011, Ogilvy & Mather scooped the £300 million Philips global advertising account. Sadly, it was too late to make it into last year’s write-up, but it set the tone for the 12-month period that followed.

Its coronation as the Cannes Network of the Year, along with 83 Lions, showed that Ogilvy & Mather was undergoing a creative revival. In particular, the Shanghai office’s "Coke hands" campaign for Coca-Cola impressed the juries, winning the Grand Prix in the Outdoor category.

New business followed and among the brands to entrust Ogilvy & Mather with their accounts were BlackRock and Qualcomm globally, while local wins included Burger King and Kronenbourg 1664.

In thought leadership, the network launched Digital@Ogilvy this year, which gives clients access to its 5,000 specialists in new technology in the digital arena. Digital@Ogilvy has also grown significantly through mergers and acquisitions, including Promo Interactive in Russia, The Royal Order of Experience Design and EffectiveUI in the US, DTDigital in Australia and Foster Informatica in Brazil.

There were some key hires and promotions – Adam Tucker was made the president of Ogilvy & Mather New York, while Brian McCarter was drafted in as the head of planning for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

All in all, Ogilvy & Mather can look back on 2012 with great satisfaction, and it was only narrowly beaten to Campaign’s Advertising Network of the Year.


Also on the shortlist was Havas Worldwide, which, in the year of its rebrand from Euro RSCG, had a record year at Cannes and won new business from the likes of Louis Vuitton, Diet Coke, Unilever and Intel; BBDO, which recorded an impressive new-business tally that included HP, a place on the Johnson & Johnson roster and the international Visa business outside Europe; and Wieden & Kennedy, whose Portland office was the most-awarded at Cannes and whose London agency won the £110 million Tesco account.
Recent winners: BBDO Worldwide (2011); Wieden & Kennedy (2010); DDB Worldwide (2009); BBDO (2008); BBDO (2007)