The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

Secrets of the world's smartest creative agency
Joseph Clift, Product Manager, Warc
Joseph Clift

Earlier this year, we announced the Warc 100 – our ranking of the smartest marketing campaigns and companies of the year, based on their performance in effectiveness and strategy awards. And taking the number one spot on the creative agencies rankings was an agency far from the traditional ad industry powerhouses of London and New York: Colenso BBDO, based in Auckland, New Zealand.

Colenso had an exceptionally strong showing on our ranking of the top 100 campaigns of the year, with work for food brand Tip Top, V, the energy drink and Mountain Dew all making the cut. But how can other agencies learn from all this success? According to Andy McLeish, Colenso's head of planning, replicating this success is a matter of taking risks, establishing clear metrics... and keeping clients' trust.

Our Warc 100 database ranks companies based on their performance in effectiveness and strategy awards. Do you have tips for other agency people who want to win these kinds of awards?

Our philosophy for a long time has been that the best work, works the best. Hence creativity drives effectiveness, and there’s a lot of research now to support that notion. There’s research that shows creatively awarded advertising is up to 11 times more effective than non creatively awarded advertising. So if we’re able to develop a powerful strategy based on real insight about our market or the world they live in, then the more creatively we can deliver to that the more likely it is to be effective.

More broadly, what's the importance of effectiveness and strategy awards – which judge case studies, not the campaign creative – within the industry?

Given the link between creativity and effectiveness, the buck always stops with effectiveness. Our clients pay us to deliver business results for them, not to make pretty pictures and films, so really effectiveness is the only thing that matters. And effectiveness awards are really the place to showcasehow good our creative thinking and productis to the client fraternity.

'Feel Tip Top': Colenso's top-ranked campaign of last year

Colenso BBDO has been named the smartest creative agency in the world - and there are a lot of agencies from Australia and New Zealand in the upper reaches of our rankings. Are there any specific things about the ad industry in this part of the world that contribute to such a good performance?

I think there’s a number of things that could contribute to why our part of the world tends to do well at these sort of things. Freedom is probably a big one. I think we’re more able to get good ideas to happen here, without the palava of extensive pre testing, twelve layers of approvals, testing again, committee discussion and finally a watered down remnant of the original idea goes to market.

Often we’ll have two or three layers of approval then we’re into making stuff, its more intuitive, our clients are generally willing to stand out and take a few risks and as a result ideas can remain pure and actually get made. We don’t have the budgets of larger markets here either, so you could say that means we have to think harder, or you could say that means the level of risk attached to getting ideas wrong is lower. The last thing that I think makes a difference is that we often have strong relationships with the C Suite execs within our client organisations. That means we can understand business problems and issues better, and have more of a direct line to the decision makers in terms of solutions. And finally, I guess it’s a nice part of the world so a lot of smart people want to come live here!

How can an agency convincingly put effectiveness at the heart of what they do?

We can incentivise ourselves to deliver it, measure ourselves against it and celebrate it when it happens, which it should, often.

And what's the appropriate role of a client in helping this process along?

Clients really need to provide a few key things: clarity, decisiveness and trust. Clarity is about being very clear about what their business problem is, what success looks like and what the constraints are we’re operating in. Decisiveness is about making decisions either way quickly and trust of course is about being prepared to be a little scared or unsettled by ideas but allowing the agency to press forward anyway.

You can read the full creative agencies ranking, and top 100 campaigns ranking, on our Warc 100 microsite – where you can also read more about how we put the rankings together.

Subjects: Awards, Advertising, Marketing

29 October 2014 14:13

There are 1 comments on this blog

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Tom J. 03 April 2016 at 6:25am
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