When Palmer Jarvis DDB claimed Strategy’s Agency of the Year title last December, some questioned seriously whether they’d even be in the running a year later.
After all, less than two months earlier, the agency had witnessed the exodus of high-profile creative director Chris Staples. Could PJDDB weather the loss of such a franchise player? Could they maintain the reputation as a creative powerhouse built during Staples’ tenure? Could they even hope to stay on top of the agency heap?
Well yes, actually.
For the second year in row, Palmer Jarvis DDB has taken top honours in the Agency of the Year competition. And by a comfortable margin, too: Strategy’s 13-member panel of client and agency judges gave PJDDB an average score of 8.12 - well ahead of second-place TAXI Advertising & Design, with 7.38, and third-place MacLaren McCann, with 7.19.
PJDDB’s victory caps an eventful year in Canadian advertising. Molson Canadian’s "Rant" was surely among the highlights - a paean to patriotism that touched a cultural nerve and became one of the most widely talked-about and imitated ads to hit the airwaves in years. Then there was the caustically funny spot for Ontario Toyota Dealers, which managed to win gold at the Cannes festival and prompt jeers from the audience at the same event. Eatons, meanwhile, announced its return with a Busby Berkeley-style musical number celebrating the colour aubergine. (Yeah, we’re still puzzling over that one, too.) And everywhere you turned, advertisers were talking sex - none more memorably than Carlsberg, a brand which shall forevermore be synonymous with cunnilingus.
Nothing in PJDDB’s Agency of the Year portfolio generated quite so much chatter around the photocopier. But the overall strength and consistency of the agency’s submission - which included work for Telus, Degree, Bud Light, Pine-Sol and St. John Ambulance - earned high praise from this year’s judging panel.
Both second and third place proved surprises this year. While TAXI has been a near-perennial Agency of the Year contender, its last top-three finish was in 1993. And MacLaren McCann had failed even to make the shortlist a year ago, following the much-publicized loss of the Molson business.
The other contenders for the 2000 Agency of Year title were, in alphabetical order: Ammirati Puris; BBDO Canada; Bensimon•Byrne D’Arcy; Gee, Jeffery & Partners Advertising; Holmes & Lee; and Ogilvy & Mather.
A quick note about the competition. There are, of course, any number of ways to choose an Agency of the Year. Our method has to be one of the most complex, time-consuming and laborious imaginable. And we’re damn proud of that.
We won’t go into the details here - if you want a full explanation of the process, you can find it on page 76. Suffice it to say that we’ve made it difficult to get on the shortlist, and even more difficult to reach the winner’s circle. Which, in our minds, is how it should be.
For 10 years now, two basic principles have guided this competition, and they bear restating.
First: It’s the work, stupid. Sure, there are lots of other ways to judge an agency - its success in winning new accounts, its performance at the awards shows, its ability to generate positive press coverage, and so on. But in our view, the only true test is the quality of its product - namely, the advertising that it creates for clients.
Second: The only people qualified to choose the Agency of the Year are marketers themselves.
Obviously, it would be simpler and less painful for Strategy’s editorial team to decide the whole thing over coffee. In the end, however, our opinions mean a lot less than those of the people actually involved in producing advertising for a living.
After 10 years, we’re still excited about Agency of the Year, and we hope you are, too. Hearty congratulations, then, to all who took part. And we’ll see you again in 2001.