One of the more pointless party games Campaign journalists like to
play in the lull between Christmas and new year is to match agencies
with Premier League football teams.
Some partnerships are obvious. Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO is a supremely
self-confident juggernaut bursting with skilled players for whom winning
has become a habit. Like Manchester United, AMV is deservedly top of the
table. And what of J. Walter Thompson, an agency struggling to match
past achievements? Tottenham Hotspur is the comparison that springs to
Now the hard part. Which agency is the equivalent of Wimbledon, the team
loved and loathed in equal measure but whose impact on the game is
unlikely to be forgotten for a long time? With its unconventional
approach, HHCL & Partners has always been seen as advertising’s ’crazy
gang’. But does St Luke’s, Campaign’s Agency of the Year, stand as a
The bestowal of the accolade will provoke debate. For, like Wimbledon,
St Luke’s has more than held its own in a league where many judged it
would be hard-pressed to survive, let alone thrive.
St Luke’s sets itself up as an easy target for critics. Its policy of
replacing offices with ’brand rooms’, its refusal to enter work for
creative awards and its insistence on pulling out of pitches with which
it feels uncomfortable can smack of pretension and an insufferable
But every agency has to complete its rites of passage and St Luke’s is
no different. Indeed, at a time when too many shops try to dress up a
mish-mash of old philosophies and present them to clients as their own
usp, it’s heartening to see St Luke’s striving to offer something
Broadly similar sentiments might also be applied to Michaelides &
Bednash, whose choice as Media Agency of the Year reflects the growing
belief that the business of strategic media planning as a stand-alone
operation has come of age.
And not before time. Agencies of all kinds carp at being reduced to mere
supplier status by their clients and look over their shoulders for
management consultants marching into their territory.
The likes of Michaelides & Bednash are tapping into a lucrative vein of
client demand and, in doing so, ensure the industry dines again at the