PHD and ITV were the big winners at the 2016 Media Week Awards. PHD won Agency of the Year, thanks in part to £163m in new billings, including the Volkswagen Group business.
The shop also picked up the Grand Prix for its Sainsbury’s "Sharing the gift of reading at Christmas" campaign, featuring Mog the Cat, plus three other golds. ITV won Sales Team of the Year and four golds, including two for "#SuzukiSaturdays" – one of which was shared with the7stars.
For both the Agency and Sales Team of the Year awards, a group of judges visited the six shortlisted companies in each category on a single day.
There was proof of how seriously the entrants take these awards, as the various agencies and sales teams wheeled out Olympians, Paralympians, newsreaders and, in the case of PHD, four vintage Volkswagen cars.
The competition was particularly close this year. Several companies were in contention during the final voting, unlike in some other years when a clear winner emerged quickly. Winning new business was a key criterion for the jury judging Agency of the Year. A range of strong work also helped to win both Agency and Sales Team of the Year.
ITV’s haul of awards included Mattel’s Scrabble product placement in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! and Woodland Trust’s "Discover the world on your doorstep" collaboration.
The judges were mindful that ITV, Britain’s biggest TV sales house, has inherent trading power and resources that some smaller players lack. However, the sales team raised their game during the past year with ITV’s Upfronts gala, held at the London Palladium for the first time, and challenged themselves to be more creative on-screen and off-air in recognition that Channel 4 had performed better when it won a year ago.
"There was proof of how seriously the entrants take these awards as they wheeled out Olympians, Paralympians and vintage VW cars"
Trinity Mirror also deserves special mention. For a news brand to be shortlisted for Sales Team of the Year at a time of double-digit declines in the news-paper advertising market was an achievement in itself. Its presentation demonstrated how the Daily Mirror publisher has worked to change its culture and become more outward-looking in the past year by appealing to advertisers through collaboration and content partnerships and investing in research.
Trinity Mirror celebrated advertising itself by backing the Modal Britain Award. Six campaigns – one from each of the contenders for Agency of the Year – were voted on by Modal Britain, Trinity Mirror’s panel of members of the public. They chose Carat’s "Spare Chair Sunday" for Bisto.
Jenny Biggam, co-founder of the7stars, and Simon Daglish, deputy managing director of commercial at ITV, were co-chairs, overseeing more than 60 judges.
Picking the best of the best is tough. There is the perennial challenge of deciding how much the media agency played a decisive role in creating a campaign – as opposed to playing a media amplification role for an idea devised by a creative agency.
Some judges felt that "anything with a good cause" – for example, donating money for charity as part of a media campaign – tended to do well, even though that should not be the test of whether it was effective work. The danger was that a commercial campaign could struggle to win if its purpose was to drive sales and build the brand, not do good.
Entrants to the Econometrics research category were understandably disappointed that there was only one bronze awarded and no gold or silver. The judges felt the standard was not as high as for other categories and the Media Week awards team will contact the shortlisted agencies to provide and receive feedback.
We are always looking for ways to keep improving the Media Week Awards and our other events such as the Campaign Media Awards, which take place this year on 9 November.
These awards matter because you are being judged by the most demanding audience – your peers. The high quality and varied range of the 2016 winners mean the bar is set high for next year.
See the full list of the winners at mediaweekawards.co.uk