How do you get to be Agency of the Year?

It isn't easy. The competition evaluates an agency's performance on the basis of its work over the past year - judged from the perspectives of strategic thinking and creative execution.

This year, as always, the process began with the selection of the agencies. The screening was based on an extensive poll of 50 client marketers and creatives in the advertising community.

Key to our selection was this question: From all that you have seen and heard, which agencies stand out on the basis of their work over the past year?

Only six agencies garnered more positive than negative responses. These are the agencies that were invited to take part.

In alphabetical order, they are: Ammirati Puris, BBDO Worldwide, J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather, Palmer Jarvis DDB and Taxi.

Then we chose the judges: six advertising agency creatives for the creative panel and five senior marketing executives for the strategic panel. The judges had no say in which agencies could participate.

In the second stage of the process, each of the agencies was invited to send in a submission.

Although there is no entry fee for the Agency of the Year competition, the agencies involved were asked to put considerable effort into the preparation of their submissions.

They were asked to submit five advertising ideas representing work they had done for five different clients over the previous 12 months.

The submissions could include anything the agencies chose to showcase, from a single selected item (such as a television commercial) to a full-fledged campaign using multiple media.

While the final choice of work was left up to each individual agency, all were advised to bear in mind that the judges would be scoring on the basis of an agency’s ability to work in different product categories and across different media.

The criteria on which the work was to be judged were twofold: strategic thinking and creative execution.

In order to bring the broadest possible perspective to the competition, our judging panel included representation from the Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver markets. We also included a member on each panel from the U.S. (see pages 46-49 for details).

The judges never met as a group.

Instead, the six bodies of work, which were submitted electronically for the first time this year, were delivered to each of the judges individually via CD-ROM.

The judges were asked to treat the competition as an Olympic-style contest in which they awarded agencies points for overall performance.

They were instructed to score each agency’s submission on a scale of 0 to 10. They were also asked to pick their three favorite ads, and to provide us with overall impressions of all the work they saw (see pages 46-49 for their comments).

The final selection was made on the basis of a straight numerical tally: Each agency’s scores from the strategic panel were totaled and averaged, as were the scores from the creative panel. The creative and strategic scores had equal weighting on the final score.

The agency with the highest final score claimed the title.

The right combination of strategic and creative

The Agency of the Year competition is judged by two separate panels: a creative panel of agency types and a strategic panel of client marketers.
If we had determined the awards using just one of the panels, the results would have been quite different, as you can see below:

Creative Scores

Palmer Jarvis DDB:8.12
Ammirati Puris:7.63
J. Walter Thompson:6.88
Ogilvy & Mather:5.97
BBDO Worldwide:5.95

Strategic Scores

BBDO Worldwide:7.38
Ogilvy & Mather:7.12
Palmer Jarvis DDB:6.65
Ammirati Puris:6.45
J. Walter Thompson:6.38

Overall Scores

Palmer Jarvis DDB:7.39
Ammirati Puris:7.04
BBDO Worldwide:6.67
J. Walter Thompson6.63
Ogilvy & Mather6.55

How do you get to be Best Media Operation?

Planning, planning (creative), planning (strategic)... and really sharp buying skills

Strategy’s Best Media Operation competition is intended to recognize excellence in media planning and buying.

The winner is determined by means of a confidential poll of media sellers across the country.

Over 400 sales people at TV networks, magazines, Web sites, newspapers, outdoor and other media companies were contacted by email and asked to visit a secure voting Web site.

Upon visiting the site, each executive was presented with a list of media planning and buying operations and asked to rate those they do business with on a scale of 1 to 10. The list included more than 70 different shops, and media sellers were encouraged to nominate other companies they considered deserving.

This was a chance, we told them, to recognize the media management operations that they felt were doing the best job of understanding and making the most of the seller’s medium. Media executives were instructed to base their score for each operation on a number of factors:

General attributes: Is the company well organized? Does it have professional personnel? Is it up-to-date in its attitudes, data and techniques? Is it imaginative in its general approach to media? Is it responsive to new ideas and recommendations?

Planning attributes: Does the company show a strong understanding of your particular medium? Does it develop a strategic approach to looking at problems and opportunities?

Buying attributes: Is the company likely to get the best efficiencies for the client’s dollar? Does it excel at negotiating the best all-round value for advertisers?

We then averaged the numerical scores from the sellers, and the operation with the highest overall score won.

How do you get to be Best media director?

Each seller we surveyed was also asked to nominate an individual for the Best Media Director award. This competition was presented as an opportunity to identify those who are setting high standards of professionalism in the media community.

In naming their choice, sellers were asked to consider such criteria as knowledge of the media industry, creativity in coming up with innovative media solutions and openness to new ideas.

The media director or media agency president who received the most nominations won.

| Agency of the Year |
| Gold: Palmer Jarvis DDB   Silver: Ammirati Puris   Bronze: Taxi |
| Honourable Mention: BBDO Canada |
| Finalists: J. Walter Thompson   Ogilvy & Mather |
| Best Media Operation |
| Gold: M2 Universal   Silver: Harrison, Young, Pesonen & Newell   Bronze: Starcom Worldwide |
| Best Media Director: Hugh Dow, M2 Universal |
| Judges: Creative   Strategic |
| How do you get to be Agency of the Year, Best Media Operation, and Best Media Director |

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