To some, including Andrew Robertson, the chief executive of BBDO Worldwide (which again tops the Most Awarded Network list), the Gunn Report is the ultimate yardstick of a network's creativity. To others, such as Gerry Graf, the executive creative director of TBWA\Chiat\Day, it's a by-product of the eternal battle to reach creative excellence.
However, no matter how you view it, the report, which is celebrating its tenth birthday, has become an established part of the industry's global make-up.
This year, the report introduces a new category, All Gunns Blazing, described by the founder, Donald Gunn, as combining everything that's going on under the various labels of "integrated, the more humble mixed media, innovative, content and contact, Titanium, and more". He adds: "All Gunns Blazing sums up what integrated is all about. Perhaps it also captures the whatever-it-takes/anything is possible spirit of innovative and Titanium."
Another first this year is achieved by the Phenomena director Thanonchai Sornsrivichai, who becomes the first person to top the Most Awarded Director list five times in a row. The Thai's accomplishment is even more impressive when you consider that the All Gunns Blazing and integrated categories are now also included in the points tally, opening the field up to new entries; practically all of the usual names, such as Fredrik Bond and Frank Budgen, have disappeared from the top ten completely.
However, in some categories, there are no surprises. The US tops the Most Awarded Country list for the ninth time in ten years (the UK won it once in 2006) and Crispin Porter & Bogusky returns to the summit of the Most Awarded Interactive Agency list after having to share first place last year with Sweden's Farfar (which comes second this year).
The big winners in terms of the Most Awarded Work categories are Earth Hour for the WWF from Leo Burnett Sydney (All Gunns Blazing), Fallon's "gorilla" for Cadbury (commercial), Saatchi & Saatchi New York's "stains don't stand a chance" for Tide Ultra (print) and Uniqlo's Uniqlock, by Projector in Japan (integrated).
Campaign has asked three creative directors to run the rule over this year's most awarded work. You may notice that a critique of "gorilla" is missing, but, let's be honest, if you work in advertising and don't know all about that spot by now, then it's time to quit.
- For a full breakdown of the winners, visit: www.brandrepublic.com/campaign
Tide Ultra 'stains don't stand a chance' - most awarded print campaign
Jonathan Burley - executive creative director, Leo Burnett
Project: "Stains don't stand a chance"
Client: Tide Ultra
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi New York
Until a couple of years ago, I hadn't really come across the Gunn Report. My previous employer, HHCL, was such a determinedly UK agency that, at times, it was almost Kilroy Silkish in its suspicion of any advertising with a foreign accent.
But we all move on. Kilroy no longer slithers across our screens, HHCL was eaten alive by United and I find myself creatively in charge of a network agency that takes great pride in its global creative standing (for the record, Burnett is the second most creatively awarded network this year, according to the report - thought I'd slip that in).
It has been quite an eye-opener for me, this new exposure to global creative. There is some gorgeous work to be found in the report, not least the Tide Ultra campaign.
I love it. At its heart, it is nothing more than a classic product demo, but it is a wonderfully imaginative idea rendered in such exquisite detail by the digital artist Simon Danaher that it's irresistible.
When you get in close to see the detail, you can't help but feel a terrible pity for the stains being duffed up. There is something horrifyingly anti-human rights in the way the grinning Erik Estrada CHiPS cops take their truncheons to the defenceless heads of the soy sauce bank robbers, and the panic in the body language of the overwhelmed ketchup footballers is genuinely upsetting.
Maybe the next execution should be a Tide re-imagining of 300, with a stain-on-a-gusset version of Leonidas heroically roaring "Then we will fight you in the shade!" to Xerxes' gathered Calvin Klein hordes. Just an idea.
Uniqlo 'Uniqlock' - most awarded integrated campaign
Steve Vranakis creative director, VCCP
Agency: Projector, Japan
How do you describe something that's kind of indescribable?
A mash-up of mash-ups. Part music, part dance and part clock.
In isolation, all of these elements have been represented online in some shape or form, but, in this combination, they become lethal, if not informative and even accurate in the keeping of time.
In this world of borrowed interest, reference and outright plagiarism, there's still a glimmer of hope. A breath of fresh air and a spark of originality.
So what is it and what is it about it that just makes you feel good? Some call it branded utility; I call it being a modern-day brand. It's a 24/7 living catalogue without a hint of anything sales-like about it.
The clothing on the dancers changes by season (polo shirts in summer, jumpers come winter) and the entire cast and crew even have a kip at midnight so that they're well rested for the following day's routine. They can even wake you up with their charming chiming alarm function.
I applaud the creative and production team along with the client in equal measure. This is not an easy idea to sell, nor is it a comfortable idea to buy. It's bigger than a big idea and, as a fellow creative, I can appreciate how difficult this idea must have been to describe and deliver, and the implications of what it could and has become.
I personally don't gauge its success on the billions of people that went on to download it, but more on what they felt about this Uniqlo lot when they saw the beautifully choreographed performers dancing around for a few seconds on their computer screens.
The Uniqlock has become instantly ingrained into popular culture.
I've often been heard ranting that our industry needs to "populate pop culture" and not just nick from it. Creatives should give YouTube a rest and maybe visit the clocks at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich for a bit more inspiration.
WWF 'Earth Hour' - most awarded All Gunns Blazing campaign
Simon Learman executive creative director, McCann Erickson
Project: Earth Hour
Agency: Leo Burnett Sydney
As Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand would know, there are times when you can really cross over and have a profound effect on people's lives.
That's certainly what happened with the Earth Hour event when Leo Burnett persuaded Sydney's inhabitants to switch off their lights for 60 minutes, creating a breathtaking visual spectacle to challenge even the most radical of conceptual artists.
It also saved 24.86 tonnes of CO2 emissions. That's like taking 48,613 cars off the road for one hour. Or asking Dot Cotton to stop fagging it for ten minutes. Whichever way you look at it, it's saving the planet.
This is a great example of what happens when great strategy dances with brave creative. It turns the viewer into a participant. And, as is the case here, promises instant redemption. After all, who's going to reject an idea that saves money and the planet at the same time? Not a bad position to adopt in the current economic climate.
But what I really love about this work is that it's a communication idea in the purest sense. There's no artifice. It's all about a simple purpose, brilliantly expressed. Small wonder then that this campaign was awarded pole position in the 2008 Gunn Report's "All Gunns Blazing" section.
That the campaign was exported around the world also stands testament to its global appeal. Fifty million people switching off around the world isn't a bad ROI either.
I do wonder, though, whether the organisers factored in the effect of all those people fumbling around in the dark with nothing else to do. Wouldn't it be profoundly ironic if it ultimately led to an even greater strain on the earth's resources?