TBWA Hakuhodo, McCann Health, Wieden+Kennedy and MediaCom were among those with cause to celebrate at the Japan/Korea Agency of the Year Awards for 2018.
Where 2017 was a year of upsets in the Japan / Korea section, this year saw some consistent past winners return to form. TBWA Hakuhodo reclaimed the Creative Agency of the Year accolade from Ogilvy, while McCann Health regained its position as specialist agency of the year (last year it was outshone by Momentum and iProspect). TBWA Hakuhodo won a total of 10 awards, including those given out in the People categories. TBWA was also named Creative Agency of the Year for Korea.
Despite a challenging year that included widespread upheaval for WPP globally, Ogilvy and J. Walter Thompson still managed to impress judges in Japan, winning Silver and Bronze, respectively, in the Creative Agency category. In Korea, Silver went to DDB.
This year marked a change of creative leadership at Ogilvy, with Doug Schiff replacing Ajab Samrai. Samrai left large shoes to fill, and the agency did see further staff changes at lower levels, but the jury nevertheless awarded it Gold for Best Culture, a new category. Accenture Interactive and TBWA Hakuhodo took Siver and Bronze respectively, showing that consulting firms can be a match for agencies in this area despite the scepticism from advertising purists.
At the same time, TBWA took the Digital Agency crown from Accenture Interactive, pushing the consulting firm into second place. iProspect was named Experiential Marketing Agency of the Year, as well as winning Gold in the Integrated Marketing Agency category. Asiance was named Korea Digital Agency of the Year.
Wieden+Kennedy once again emerged as the Independent Agency of the Year. John Rowe, who recently left his MD post to return to Portland after around 3.5 years, oversaw a notable change in fortunes for a shop that, while creatively acclaimed, has not had an easy run in the Japanese market. From its base in Tokyo, it is increasingly making a mark in Korea too.
MediaCom rose up the ranks again to win Gold in Japan’s Media Agency category, having been beaten down by UM and Carat last year. UM and Mindshare followed with Silver and Bronze respectively. In Korea, MediaCom managed Bronze, with Dentsu X and UM winning Gold and Silver respectively.
In PR, Edelman showed it is still in the game, winning the category’s top prize. The agency’s business has grown impressively in Japan in recent years, but last year it went home empty handed, beaten out by Prap, Hill & Knowlton and Medicom.
TBWA Hakuhodo once again fared well in the People categories, claiming a total of seven awards, only one of which was not the outright winner. The one category it did not win was Talent Management Person of the Year: the category is typically not the creative agency world’s strongest point, and this year the award went to Shunsuke Tanaka of Accenture Interactive.