CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/THE GUNN REPORT - The awards rankings that prove creativity sells. This year's report holds few surprises as the US and UK dominate, Emma Hall says

Agencies around the world have been bickering for years over who has the best creative credentials. These days, Donald Gunn is aiming to settle such arguments with his annual Gunn Report, a comprehensive global league table of agency performance.

Agencies around the world have been bickering for years over who has the best creative credentials. These days, Donald Gunn is aiming to settle such arguments with his annual Gunn Report, a comprehensive global league table of agency performance.

The second edition of the report, which has just been published (Campaign, 10 November), surprised nobody with the conclusion that the Guinness 'surfer' spot by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO was the best commercial of the past 12 months.

'Surfer' also secured AMV's position as the most awarded agency in the world and helped BBDO to the number one spot in the agency networks table.

But does one commercial, however outstanding, justify the honours heaped upon a whole network? BMP DDB's 'wedding' press and poster ad for Volkswagen had a similarly dramatic effect on the tables last year. BMP was calculated to be the best agency in the world, and DDB duly secured the best network slot.

This year, however, BMP has slipped down from one to 20 in the rankings.

It may not have been a vintage year for the agency, but surely the fall from grace has not been that dramatic? Last year's number two, Cliff Freeman & Partners, has also slipped down, ending up joint 15 on the chart. In this respect, the Gunn Report resembles the 90s pop charts, with acts going straight in at number one, then vanishing.

'We were deeply honoured and pleased to win it last year and of course we milked the accolade for all it was worth,' BMP's creative director, Larry Barker, says. 'But the report highlights just how much things can be polarised by one piece of work. I kept thinking 'thank God I approved that ad'. It's all about a killer ad and that makes it less fair to attribute it to the whole agency. It's more about the teams really.'

But the system does have its benefits. 'It's encouraging, because it means that with one killer ad, anyone could crack it,' Barker adds. 'There is every chance that Smees of Telford could be voted most creative agency of the year.'

BMP's 'wedding' ad helped the agency to score a winning total of 67 last year, while 'surfer', despite its impact at all the major award ceremonies, gave AMV a total of only 46 and a half points, just one and a half more than Wieden & Kennedy's Portland office.

Donald Gunn, the former director of creative resources at Leo Burnett Worldwide and the ex-president of two Cannes Advertising Festivals, who compiled the Gunn Report, agrees. 'One or two ads have scored most of the points,' he says. 'The lesson is that if you have a good ad, you should be sure to enter it in all the respectable awards.'

But, Gunn points out, his report also displays plenty of consistency.

'The same countries, clients and networks do well in both the 2000 and 1999 reports,' he argues.

Volkswagen, for example, is the brand of the year for the second year in a row. This time, successful print ads from the US and France helped it to retain the top spot, while BMP's contribution is not acknowledged.

As Volkswagen demonstrates, the top creative networks are maintaining a consistently high standard despite fluctuations in the performances of individual agencies. All three Omnicom networks - BBDO (1), DDB (2) and TBWA (4) - have been in the top five of both Gunn Reports.

Dotcom clients, in marked contrast, are defiantly inconsistent. Last year, in keeping with the mood of the market, Outpost.com made it into sixth place in the commercials league table, based solely on one campaign from Cliff Freeman & Partners in New York.

By the time all this year's points were stacked up, however, the dotcom bubble had burst and we have to follow the table all the way down to number 25 before the first dotcom client, an Italian brand called Excite.it.com, makes an appearance. Dotcoms fare poorly in print too - the first new-economy client, the American careerbuilder.com, doesn't feature until number 18.

But it's not all about the top ten. The commercials, print and agency categories all comprise an entire top 50, giving up-and-coming agencies from outside the main advertising meccas a chance to shine and to test their worth against the big boys.

Mexico, India and Canada all made impressive leaps in creativity in 2000.

Mexico and India made their debuts, at 13th and 20th respectively, and Canada climbed up from 20 last year to share 11th place with Australia.

'All these countries made their mark by virtue of more than just one hot agency or one good campaign,' Gunn says. 'It's almost infectious; if one agency does super work the enthusiasm spreads.

'There is definitely a creative boom in Mexico, and in India the people are well-educated, articulate and plugged in - it's as if they saw the rest of the world having fun with advertising and joined in.'

Higher up the ranks, however, little has changed: the US and the UK had nine of the top ten commercials between them both years. The top six countries - the US, the UK, Brazil, Spain, Argentina and France - remain unchanged from last year. And Gunn's top six 'latecomer' nominations (ones that broke too late to feature in all the main shows) all come from these countries, suggesting that their reign will be unbroken in the report's third year.

So what is the point of the Gunn Report if all it does is tell us what the average award-watcher already knows? 'Creative directors like it. There is an appetite for it,' Gunn claims, although he has not yet had a phone call from Peter Souter, AMV's creative director, thanking him for the honours his report has bestowed on the agency.

Gunn is on a mission to prove that creativity sells. In 1994, he made an influential speech that asked the question: 'Do award-winning commercials sell?'

Using similarly meticulous research to his methods in the Gunn Report, he was able to prove that, yes, they do. His ambition, for the moment, is to show you which those commercials really are.



THE MOST AWARDED COMMERCIALS IN THE WORLD IN 2000

Rank   Campaign                                Country                Ad

                                                                  points

1      Guinness ''surfer''                       Great Britain          25

2=     Budweiser ''whassup?'' campaign           USA                    21

2=     Guinness ''bet on black''                 Great Britain          21

4      Fox TV/The X Show campaign              USA                    15

5=     Budget Rent-A-Car campaign              USA                    13

5=     The Independent ''litany''                Great Britain          13

5=     COI/The Army ''truck'', ''blanket''         Great Britain          13

8=     MTV ''Jukka Bros.'' campaign              USA                    12

8=     McDonald''s ''one-week-only'' promotion    Thailand               12

10=    Nike ''beautiful''                        USA                    11

10=    Delta Lloyd Insurance ''figure skater''   Netherlands            11

12=    Nike ''the morning after''                USA                    10

12=    St John''s Ambulance ''meat cutter''       Canada                 10

12=    J&B Whisky ''Greenland''                  Spain                  10

12=    Florida Anti-Tobacco Pilot campaign     USA                    10

16=    Manix Condoms ''the fingerprint''         France                  9

16=    Volkswagen ''double checked''             Brazil                  9

16=    Volkswagen ''synchronicity''              USA                     9

19=    Wowow TV ''the running woman''            Japan                   8

19=    Nike ''hackeysack''                       USA                     8

THE TOP 10 AGENCY NETWORKS IN THE WORLD IN 2000

     Last  Agency                              Winners  Winners    Total

     year                                               points/  points/

     rank                                                    TV    Print

1    2     BBDO                                   85.5     49.5      135

2    1     DDB                                      66     41.5    107.5

3    4     Saatchi & Saatchi                        49       36       85

4=   6     Leo Burnett                            55.5       29     84.5

4=   3     TBWA                                     44     40.5     84.5

6    5     Lowe Lintas                            41.5       21     62.5

7    7     Ogilvy & Mather                          24     27.5     51.5

8    11    Euro RSCG                              23.5       13     36.5

9    8     Young & Rubicam                          25     10.5     35.5

10   10    Dentsu                                   29        2       31

The Gunn Report ... the Guinness ''surfer'' and Budweiser ''whassup?'' spots

were the most awarded ads; the US and UK dominated the most awarded

countries; AMV was top of the agencies; Volkswagen remained the brand of

the year; AMV''s success helped BBDO to win best network

THE MOST AWARDED COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD IN 2000

     Last  Country                             Winners  Winners    Total

     year                                      points/  points/

     rank                                           TV    Print

1    1     USA                                     183      123      306

2    2     Great Britain                           121       74      195

3    3     Brazil                                   38       56       94

4    4     Spain                                    52     24.5     76.5

5    5=    Argentina                              43.5       17     60.5

6    6=    France                                   35       16       51

7    9=    Japan                                    41        9       50

8    10    Thailand                               32.5       12     44.5

9    7=    Germany                                  24     18.5     42.5

10   7=    Singapore                                 9       26       35

THE MOST AWARDED AGENCIES IN THE WORLD IN 2000

     Last  Agency                              Winners  Winners    Total

     year                                      points/  points/

     rank                                           TV    Print

1    4     Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO (London)        33     13.5     46.5

2    5     Wieden & Kennedy (Portland, Oregon)      37        8       45

3    15    Fallon (New York & Minneapolis)          26       17       43

4    6=    Dentsu (Tokyo & Osaka)                   29        2       31

5    6=    Lowe Lintas (London)                     19      9.5     28.5

6    11=   Almap/BBDO (Sao Paulo)                   13       15       28

7    15=   Saatchi & Saatchi (London)               17        5       22

8    30=   The Martin Agency (Richmond, Virginia)    -       20       20

9    26=   Tandem Campmany Guasch DDB (Barcelona)   13        6       19

10   -     DDB (Chicago)                            18        -       18

THE MOST AWARDED BRANDS IN THE WORLD IN 2000

    Last  Agency    Winners  Winners  Total        No       No        No

    year            points/  points/               of       of        of

    rank                 TV    Print        countries agencies campaigns

1   1     Volkswagen     28       23     51         8        8        27

2   2     Nike           33       15     48         5        6        20

3   14    Guinness       29      7.5   36.5         2        2         3

4   19    Toyota          4       15     24        10       10        12

5   5     Fox            22        -     22         1        2         4

6   3     Sony            9     12.5   21.5         9       10        17

7=  9     Audi           15        6     21         5        5        12

7=  10    Budweiser      19        2     21         2        2         3

9   21    Adidas          6       14     20         7        7        12

10  15    McDonald''s     16        1     17         5        5         6





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