Media Agency of the Year
After years of dominance as the key player in the Scottish marketplace, the winner of this year's Media Agency of the Year title has had to work harder than ever to keep right at the forefront of the business.
In more recent years our Media Agency of The Year has had a fierce battle on its hands, with rivals challenging its position as number one in the market in Scotland.
However, with a series of high profile wins reflecting the agency's ability to evolve and meet the needs of the changing market, as well as the continued admiration lauded on the team by those that work with the agency, it was deemed only right that the agency should retain its crown for a second consecutive year. So, for 2007, The Media Agency of the Year is Feather Brooksbank.
Lifetime Achievement Award
On Stuart Feather's curriculum vitae, the Qualifications entry states 'None to speak of.'
It is doubtful his business partner for a generation, kindred spirit, wingman and muse Giles Brooksbank would agree, but as joint recipients of the Drum's Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of their seismic contribution to media marketing, and acknowledging the heartfelt recognition afforded to Giles as he collected the trophy, and despite Feather's own modest appraisal, the shadow cast by the two men has undeniably been enormous.
"I was quite flattered that we were the recipients of the award," said Feather after the event. "There have been some illustrious predecessors; John Denholm, Jim Downie, Colin Marr. What we've done has changed the landscape."
2008 will mark their 30th year in business together, and their easy association, forged of a relationship whose length shames most marriages, seems as comfortable and reliable as an old sock.
Forming the company that bears their names in 1991, Brooksbank explains why the two Bradford lads decided to relocate north, starting off the legacy that has now afforded them prestigious peer recognition. "Stuart recognised that there was a genuine business opportunity. There were all sorts of strong reasons why we selected Scotland."
"I lived here," says Feather, picking it right up. "We felt there was room for someone who was a bit more aggressive, and a bit more pure media. We're media blokes. We weren't saying we had a dream media plan, we were coming up with clever ideas to create platforms that helped make the creative idea even stronger."
It is a formula that has been duplicated in England by media buyers such as Brilliant and Mediavest, who came on the scene around the same time, but no others have been as successful in Scotland as Feather and Brooksbank.
There is a nebulous art to the work of media buying, as Brooksbank explains.
"What exemplifies our approach is that we genuinely do see that, to make a much more holistic and capable solution, you need to work very, very closely with your creative partners," he says.
"We live the spirit of being hard but fair. We have found it has stood us in very good stead over the years."
The two men would probably have made as large scale a success had they gone into any other field of business. Something in their synergy convinces you that there is an ineffable formula that has been crystallised in their success.
"We both trust each other, and we have very complimentary skills. That is the major element," says Feather. "Myself and Giles have always done things together. I am sh*t at some things, and Giles is good at them, and vice versa. We dovetail very well."
Both men started Feather Brooksbank with a capital investment of only £3000 each, and those that have survived from that period in the early 1990s shared the two men's awareness of where the communication business was heading.
"There was a bubble for about five years, where virtually every start up is still with us today," says Feather. "Boys like Andy Jeal and Dave Lucas at Mediavest, or Brilliant, who all put a lot on the line to start in business. They are really good media people who are also quite entrepreneurial, and also understood that, as creative became a specialist art form, and media became a different skillset, it would go full circle and media would become the dominant communications area."
It is clear that both men thrive on each other's energy, and it is undoubtedly their synchronicity that has driven them forward, in business and in the eyes of their colleagues in the industry.
Feather also pays tribute to their staff, current and past, to whom they share the dedication for their Lifetime Achievement.
"People know that...
"What you see is what you get," Brooksbank interjects. "Our business is an organic entity. Present it with change and people ignite."
"We try to use media to the best of our ability, but you can improve things just by opening your mind, having the courage to think about challenging things is really important. You create an advantage by thinking. The real difference is in making things more efficient and smarter, rather than cheaper."
The Union sweeps the board
The Union emerged as Scotland's most creative advertising agency, at last Friday's Scottish Advertising Awards.
This is the second year the agency has taken the number one spot - picking up 12 awards, two commendations and eight nominations at the event.
It was significantly ahead of second placed Newhaven which picked up six awards. The Leith Agency was in third position with four awards.
The creative league is calculated by looking at an agency's full haul. Then thee points are given for an award, two points for a commendation and one for a nomination.
While also accumulating the most points, The Union's results also showed a healthy spread. They picked up awards for Quantum Recruitment, STV and Baxters of Speyside. However, it was their work for the National Obesity Forum, which gave the evening one of its most striking images - the body of a toddler super-imposed on an obese body.
This year the jury was chaired by Sir John Hegarty, whose numerous achievements include the founding of BBH. That's why the Chairman's Award was of particular note this year - and that too was won by The Union, for a simple direct marketing piece for Quantum Recruitment.
It featured a Russian Doll type technique where a larger envelope contained a smaller, envelope, and that contained an even smaller one until recipients were left with a card which read; Fed up going through all the candidates to find the right one?
Said Sir John: "It was the sort of idea I wish I had thought of myself."
However, it was The Leith Agency who won the big prize of the evening, the 2007 Grand Prix. The award was given to its Snowman commercial for Irn-Bru.
The firm shows the mythical snowman attempting to trick a small boy out of his Irn Bru whilst flying over famous Scottish landmarks.
The Leith also won another key award which was for Best Integrated Campaign which it picked up for S1.
In total nine agencies picked up 32 Awards. The overall results heavily favour Edinburgh; which accounted for 24 of the Dirks. However, when broken down by the number of companies that won awards the results suggest Glasgow is continuing to up the creative advertising ante.
Five Edinburgh agencies took home gongs, compared to four Glasgow shops; The Bridge, GRP, Frame and Axis.
Animation specialist Axis is a company that seems to be particularly worth watching. Its small film - which was part of a self promotion - particularly impressed the judges. However, the company also has also worked with some major clients that include Saatchi and Saatchi Milan and MTV Asia.
Meanwhile, two Glasgow agencies shared third spot in the league table. The Bridge did well for its Rock Radio stunt that offered passers-bys in Glasgow a free air guitar. Meanwhile GRP consolidated its creative reputation by picking up more accolades for its sex education books, commissioned by Greater Glasgow Health Board. The work also won the Health Board the title of 'Client of the Year.'
The Agency Premier League
Which agencies should be in the Scottish Premier Advertising League? And where should they be ranked? These were the questions The Drum set out to answer through an online poll last month.
First of all we had selected a long list of 15 contenders, before inviting readers to vote for five in order of preference. We then awarded five points for a first choice, four for a second choice and so on, in order to arrive at our final ranking. In all over 500 voted as part of the project.
The table which we publish now takes on the classic dynamics of any league. It is as interesting for the action at the bottom as it is for the drama at the top.
Indeed, Newhaven, was named League Champions as well as Scottish Advertising Agency of the Year, at this year's advertising awards.
The agency topped the online poll, however the Agency of The Year result was a culmination of a number of areas of research.
The success and profile of all the agencies in the last 12 months were also taken into consideration. As were new business wins, new campaign launches and a poll of agency peers, asking which agency they admired most over the last year.
Finally, the financial fortunes of the past year were also taken into consideration along with the growth of the business - either through acquisition or organic means.
The fact that Newhaven had grown its business over the last 12 months by as much as 50 per cent had impressed those who voted.
However, now they have expanded from a relatively small base it opens the field up for contenders like The Leith and The Union to come to the fore next year. The Union in particular must be a favourite because of its sustained and consistent performance on the awards front; which sees it retain its crown as Scotland most creative agency.
Meanwhile, at the bottom three agencies saw themselves drop off the list altogether. However, AVC, Ten Alps and The Big Picture are, without doubt, hungry to break into the Premier League.
And next year challenge they will. The relatively unknown AVC has built a turnover of £3m from a standing start in 2006, through the acquisition of both a Dundee-based media business and Brand Advertising, helping raise the North East agency’s profile in the playoffs.
Again pushing the North East's reputation is The Big Picture, which was initially voted onto the long-list. High profile appointments like that of Brian Williams will only help grow the agency's reputation in the advertising field.