Any British creative reading this year's Gunn Report will find it difficult to hold back a feeling of national pride: while the UK advertising industry might not be the biggest in terms of revenue, creatively it is pound-for-pound the best in the world.
Six of 2005's ten most-awarded commercials, including the runaway winner, Honda's "grrr", came from the UK.
Wieden & Kennedy's success with "grrr" has been phenomenal: with a total of 35 points, it was 16 points ahead of the second most-awarded ad, Adidas' "Laila", from 180 Amsterdam.
Home-grown success this year has helped the UK launch a serious challenge against the US's dominance as the most-awarded country, closing the points gap to just six - the lowest it has been since the introduction of the report in 1999.
Furthermore, the UK had nine placings in the top 50 most-awarded agencies (see table), the highest being DDB London, which was fourth after Dentsu, TBWA\Paris and AlmapBBDO. Notably, Almap is the first agency to claim the number-one spot two years running.
Thanks in no small part to the success of its Paris office, TBWA\Worldwide replaced DDB Worldwide for the first time at the top of the most-awarded networks list.
The UK also performed well in print, securing joint first place with Germany in the most-awarded print ads section, with seven out of the top 50 campaigns.
Neither country managed to scoop the most-awarded print ad accolade, though. The overall winner was the Thai agency Creative Juice/G1, which collected 20 points for its work for the Tamiya Model Kits shop, a series of ads that showed smashed or squashed items including a lightbulb and a watermelon in a bid to illustrate how complex the models are.
This year's print ads list also contained the first entry from the United Arab Emirates, as the Dubai-based Tonic Communications picked up gold awards at both Cannes and the One Show for its "paper clip" ad for Sony's Wega Engine TV.
DDB London was the highest-finishing UK agency in the print ads list, occupying third place for its "King Kong" ad for Volkswagen. Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO finished sixth with "lightbulb" for The Economist.
Other British agencies in the top 50 included Lowe London for its work on Tesco and Quality Street, Bartle Bogle Hegarty for Levi's, and Ogilvy & Mather for Dove skincare products.
Behind the camera, UK-based talent continues to lead the world, with three of the top ten awarded directors. Smith & Foulkes, the directors of the "grrr" spot, came in joint second; the 2003 joint winner, Danny Kleinman, came fourth, while the Stink director Ivan Zacharias finished tenth.
For the third year running, the world's most-awarded director was Thai.
This year, Thanonchai Sornsrivichai took the top spot.
Working for Phenomena in Bangkok, which was this year's most-awarded production company, Sornsrivichai worked on all three ads from Thailand that made it into the most-awarded commercials list. These were the Thai Health Promotion Board's "bar fight" and "harassment"; Ford "King Kong", and "lost", "money", "oil price" and "madam" for the Thai Energy Policy Office.
Sornsrivichai's win highlights Thailand's growing reputation as a hotbed of creative talent. His fellow Thai, Suthon Petchsuwan, joins Frank Budgen as the only director to make the top 25 for all seven years the Gunn Report has been running.
In the top advertisers list, the gap between the sportswear giants Nike and Adidas has widened, the latter raking in its biggest tally of points ever with 47, a jump of 13 on last year. The coup sees Adidas move from fourth to second place, while Nike stays in fifth.
Honda has moved up one place from last year following the massive success of "grrr", joining Sony in joint third place, while Volkswagen remained at number one with a total of 65 points.
MOST-AWARDED TV COMMERCIALS RANK BRAND/TITLE AGENCY 1 Honda Diesel "grrr" Wieden & Kennedy London 2 Adidas "Laila" 180 Amsterdam 3 Canadian Short Film Festival Taxi "special FX", "good cop/bad cop", "love story" 4= Lynx/Axe "getting dressed" Bartle Bogle Hegarty 4= Peugeot 407 "toys" BETC Euro RSCG Paris 6 Volkswagen Golf "kids on steps" DDB Germany 7 NSPCC "ventriloquist" Saatchi & Saatchi London 8 Orange "Verne Troyer", Mother "Patrick Swayze", "Sean Astin" 9 Stella Artois "pilot" Lowe London 10 Citroen C4 "carbot" Euro RSCG London Source: Gunn Report. MOST-AWARDED UK SHOPS RANK AGENCY 4 DDB London 7 Wieden & Kennedy London 11 Lowe London 12 Bartle Bogle Hegarty 19= Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO 19= TBWA\London 27 Mother 40 Euro RSCG London 45 Saatchi & Saatchi London Source: Gunn Report.
WHY GUNN MATTERS TO ME - John Hunt, creative director, TBWA\Worldwide
The Gunn Report has grown in stature over the past few years as a kind of uber-overview of all things creative.
While individual shows vie to be the most important, the Gunn Report's strength is scooping them all together and declaring a winner.
It is becoming a prized reference work because it is a global exercise and feels very scientific. Each year, the financial department holds its breath when the auditors arrive; the report gives the creative department a similar chance.
It must also give comfort to clients, who are always trying to measure the immeasurable. I sense they are trying hard to "understand creativity".
The old media rules have changed and they realise smart, original thinking is the only leverage they have left.
Many clients are seeing awards not as an end in themselves, but as one of the signs of an agency capable of fresh thinking. If this often messy smorgasbord is brought to you in a tidy package, full of rigorous analysis, so much the better.