Nike set the bar high. But we can do more to reach it
A view from Malcolm Poynton

Nike set the bar high. But we can do more to reach it

In a year that offered memorable telly spots like Southern Comfort's corpulent budgie-smuggler-clad hero strolling down the beach to Odetta's Hit Or Miss, DirecTV's hilarious blow-out campaign and Kayak's "brain surgeon", the 2013 Grandy award went to Nike+ FuelBand. It put R/GA on the global agency stage and wearable technology on everyone's lips.

A year has passed and it’s time to see what’s new. I mean old. Erm, I mean both. The International Andy Awards is the first major show of the year and sets the bar for all that follows. And come Advertising Week Europe in April and the awards night celebration, you’ll be seeing what’s new since FuelBand. And I don’t mean FuelBand 2.0.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Andys. To lead this special jury, The Advertising Club of New York invited the industry visionary David Droga to chair. With his hand-picked jury, Mr Droga got down to the business of debating the worth of the work in Shanghai. Camped out in the windowless basement of the hotel, we were oblivious to the reality of the smog alerts outside but thrived instead on the freshness of the tiny percentage of entries that rises to the top. That and Relay, the GIF messaging app that will brighten your day.

There is one gap that's clear: the lack of ability to create completely immersive and connected stories for a brand

The evidence of this year’s winners is that a new world order of agencies is fast emerging, making huge progress when it comes to better understanding the impact of digital in consumers’ lives. Whether it’s through a fresh take on film, print promoting age-old products or new digital products, mobile apps, social campaigns or pure innovation, a handful of agencies are on their game and increasingly up for the challenge.

For all of us in the UK, it will be worth paying close attention to the 2014 winners, since they are mostly from afar. And that’s the second theme running through the work. Great work is coming from all over the map. Latin America and Asia-Pacific are both producing strong work and, today, I’d say the US is ahead of the UK.

However, for all the progress, there is one gap that’s clear. And that’s the lack of ability to create completely immersive and connected stories for a brand. While there are plenty of outstanding pieces, there’s bugger all in the way of a cohesive, participative ecosystem of experience and communications for a brand.

Dismissing Nike’s already acknowledged progress, Prudential from the US is the best we saw – it’s well worth exploring. And with the digitally enabled world we’re in, I’m looking forward to seeing progress in this aspect of agency thinking through the year ahead. On that note, we’re looking forward to racing you to it.

Malcolm Poynton is the executive creative director at SapientNitro