We take a look at the agencies across the globe, from Dublin to Portland to Paris, that have proven through brilliant creative and innovative work that marketing can change the world.
Grand Prix at the Dadis, Cannes Lions, Clios, Epica. Three D&AD Pencils and a couple Gold ones at The One Show... it’s fair to say Dublin creative shop Rothco had a pretty strong year following its acquisition by Accenture at the end of 2017, and that’s just going by some of the gongs it picked up for its ‘JFK Unsilenced’ work for British newspaper The Times.
The spot, where it used AI to deliver the speech the 35th US president was set to make in Dallas on the day he was assassinated, took eight weeks and 116,777 phonetic sound units from 831 speeches and radio addresses to finally bring to life the 55-year-old, 22- minute, 2,590 word monologue, which has since been heard by over a billion people around the world.
More recently, in a less technologically advanced but no less impressive campaign from the agency that was founded in 1995 and whose clients also include Tesco, Heineken and Allied Irish Banks, it added a lump to “the world’s most-touched breasts” – on the Molly Malone statue in Dublin.
As tourists then posed with the statue – and, inevitably, touched its already burnished bronze bosom – the addition went unnoticed, highlighting cancer awareness foundation Marie Keating Foundation’s point that, if the most famous and watched pair of breasts in Ireland can go without detection, women have to be extra vigilant and thorough with their breast examinations.
From helping establish a literal island of trash to launching a massive Christmas campaign, AMV BBDO has enjoyed quite a year.
The agency designed the flag, currency, passport and stamps for LadBible’s ‘Trash Isles’ campaign, a petition to create a new country in hopes of forcing the UN to rid the world’s oceans of pollution. The campaign received over 200,000 signatures and reached over half a billion people across the globe.
In April, AMV BBDO won Asda’s creative account from Saatchi & Saatchi, which had run the account for the past two years. AMV BBDO quickly got to work with the fast-paced ‘Bring Christmas Home’ campaign, which launched in early November. The agency did see some notable shakeups, however.
In mid-November AMV creative partner and head of art Rosie Arnold called it a career after 35 years in the industry. This followed the departure of the agency’s chief executive and chair Dame Cilla Snowball. At the start of 2019, Sarah Douglas and Justin Pahl, who have been promoted from within, will take up the chief executive and group chairman roles respectively.
Seen as one of the most aggressive consulting groups to enter the ecosystem, Accenture Interactive has helped redraw the marketing map since its launch in 2009 and 2018 was no different.
Its revenues reportedly grew by more than 20% in the past 12 months. It kicked off 2018 with the acquisition of Game of Thrones CGI company Mackevision, and the completion of the acquisition of Irish creative agency Rothco. In May, it rolled out its programmatic services practice, this time sending the media agencies into a bit of a tizzy.
Not that this was unexpected though. Remember that in 2017 it poached the president of OMD EMEA, Nikki Mendonca, to be global president of Accenture Interactive Operations.
Accenture Interactive also continued to win new business. Radisson Hotel Group appointed Accenture Interactive for a global experience agency brief. The Walt Disney Studios chose Accenture Interactive as founding member and innovation partner of its StudioLAB. And then there were the unforeseen accolades for creativity.
An AI-fueled rendition of a never-delivered John F Kennedy speech, created by Rothco, won seven Cannes Lions including the Grand Prix for Creative Data at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The new breed of agency model – which fuses creativity with business consulting, data and technology — has come to life.
The indie agency had a stellar year for creative work, from nabbing a spot of Ford's roster to embedding the words ‘Dilly Dilly’ into the consciousness of pretty much every Bud Light drinking American.
But it was its work for Nike that has arguably left the biggest impact on the world. When the sporting giant featured Colin Kaepernick – the former San Francisco 49ers star who was axed from the team after refusing to kneel during the national anthem in a protest against racism and social inequality – as the face of its 30th anniversary ‘Just Do It’ campaign, it was applauded by outsiders for its bravery, and by shareholders for the estimated $6bn it added to the brand’s value.
As Nike hit headlines around the world for its powerful stance, W+K’s pivotal role was arguably overshadowed. But, as detailed in a New York Times profile, in those weeks and months leading up to the campaign’s release it was W+K execs that had tirelessly urged Nike to work with Kaepernick and carefully eased concerns over the repercussions of making an overtly political statement.
But in doing so it not only set a standard for advertising that brands should produce, but also highlighted the important role that agencies need to play to ensure that clients are pushed and prodded out of ‘safe’ advertising.
If French agencies have taught us anything this past year it’s that their countrymen can do comedy – very well.
Herezie Group Paris took contactless payment to new levels by featuring a man attempting to revive his flaccid, um, equipment with his Paylib banking app, while 84.Paris brought us a vegetarian hip-hop homage to Biggie Smalls with Greenpeace. Yes, you read that correctly.
But it was the Parisians at Rosapark that came out on top for us. ‘The Worst Song in the World’ (‘La Pire Chanson Du Monde’) picked up silverware in Cannes for its remarkable pastiche of 80s hair rock, a medium it used to advertise Monoprix’s grocery delivery service.
Then, in August, it was tapped by Skoda to release yet another throwback to less attractive times – the 90s – with the bold contention that ‘you were probably pretty ugly then too’.
The agency, which was founded by Gilles Fichteberg, Jean-Patrick Chiquiar and JeanFrançois Sacco, has also proven it can do poignant. It dressed the iconic Zouave statue on a bridge across the Seine in a life vest to draw attention to the impending flooding caused by global warming and turned real-life residents of Brussels into city center monuments via the power of hologram.
As for 2019? "We look forward to more great campaigns and bringing a more entertaining approach to communication,” the founders say.
2018 didn’t start so great for KFC when the chicken restaurant was forced to close hundreds of its UK outlets after it turned out it didn’t have any chicken. What it did have, however, was London’s Mother. And, pretty quickly, the mother of all responses.
The much-lauded ‘FCK’ was the big newsworthy rejoinder the big news story demanded. The creative shop kept up the momentum with a music video for cordless breast pump maker Elvie, an Ikea spot fronted by indie-poppers Teleman, an Ennio Morricone-soundtracked duel between a chicken and a turkey for KFC and a Christmas campaign for Debenhams.
There were no doubt many other highs along the way, such as when it won a place on Sky’s TV account and agency roster, but the perfect bookend to something of a perfect year for Mother (ignoring its loss of the Moneysupermarket.com account in March) came when the Emma Thompson-narrated ‘Rang-tan’ animation it made for Greenpeace in August was repurposed by supermarket chain Iceland for its Christmas offering. And then was quickly banned. And then quickly went viral and spurred a petition that was quickly signed by over a million people.
The Drum's New Year Honors were first published in the January issue of The Drum magazine, which looks back at the year in marketing and advertising and mulls over some of the lessons learned in 2018. Buy your copy here.