The list of the top agencies in this year’s Agency Network of the Year Awards reads the same as last year’s, as Ogilvy & Mather, Mindshare, and Isobar repeated as the creative, media and digital networks of the year, respectively.
In fact, Mindshare’s streak now extends to three years, and Isobar has taken top honours for four straight years. Looking at results since 2010, Ogilvy has triumphed five out of eight times, Isobar six out of eight, and Mindshare five out of eight.
In the battle for the runner-up spots, BBDO was the second-place creative agency for the second year, while UM displaced OMD in the media category. In the digital race, Mindshare took the runner-up slot—the first time since the network-level awards were created that a media agency has shown up in this category on awards night.
In terms of holding companies, while the three top categories gave WPP multiple reasons to celebrate (and Dentsu Aegis and Interpublic one reason each), no Omnicom or Publicis brands heard their names. However, Omnicom can celebrate that PHD's Susana Tsui was named media-network head of the year, and TBWA won the digital agency head award (Tuomas Peltoniemi) and creative person of the year title (Nils Andersson).
More on the 2017 Agency Network of the Year Awards
Ogilvy & Mather
Ogilvy’s momentum at the network level was propelled by its strong performance across the regional awards. The agency won gold regional awards for creative, integrated and PR in Greater China; digital and PR in Southeast Asia; and creative in South Asia. Add to that country-level golds for creative in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia/Laos/Myanmar, Japan and India, plus a gold digital-agency title in Singapore.
“I thought Ogilvy did well by very transparently sharing their creativity that stuck,” said Kaveri Khullar, global marketing head for advocacy, content and partnerships with Johnnie Walker (Diageo), who was a juror for the network awards. “Because it was simple, clever and bold.”
The agency itself cites for its success its ‘next chapter’ initiative, and dedication to being “customisable, adaptable and, most importantly, accountable” while achieving “the pinnacle of creativity and effectiveness”. Widely credited with driving that next chapter vision, co-CEOs Kent Wertime and Chris Reitermann won the regional creative agency head of the year award.
Mindshare’s haul in the regional contests included the regional media-agency golds in Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia, plus country-level golds in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, India and ‘rest of South Asia’ (Sri Lanka). On top of that, the network won five digital-agency awards including golds in Indonesia, Vietnam and Pakistan, as well as two golds for mobile-marketing agency (Southeast Asia and South Asia).
For its part, Mindshare cites a yearlong emphasis that “this is our time”—a belief driven by the conviction that in a world where “everything begins and ends in media” the media agency plays a more central role than ever.
Isobar took regional digital-agency honours in Greater China and South Asia, and added country-level digital-agency golds in China, New Zealand (Little Giant, Linked by Isobar) Taiwan and India. It also took a gold for social media in South Asia; as well as a smattering of silvers and bronzes.
The network credits its performance to a focus on kickstarting clients on their digital-transformation journeys and its capabilities across digital marketing, building on digital ecosystems and creating digital products.
The winning agencies, in Khullar’s opinion, were those that genuinely contributed to the evolution of the industry. “I am not talking about participation at industry forums alone,” she said. “Some of them really took on the mantle of industry captainship, preparing their own organization and their clients for the digital and tech transformationthat is well underway, its significant impact on the empowered consumer and what that means for brands and marketers.”
Attention to one of the last year’s biggest issues, gender diversity, also played a role. “It was interesting how some entries ‘quoted’ gender diversity but did little to follow up on this KPI,” Khullar said. “Those with honest commitment to nurture diversity won our hearts.”
Dedication to purpose also factored in, she added, making a difference in cases “where purpose was not for purpose sake but a sustainable proposition with the product playing a clear role”.
Finally, agencies would do well to remember that their wins in the regional sections is not the only thing that matters for the network-level awards. “The articulation of entries is an art that is woefully underestimated,” Khullar said. “Winning entries had their intent, actions and evaluation thereof laid out a lot better than the others.”