Most Winning Creative Work Involves Consumer Participation

Big Won Report: Entries Fell at 2009 Awards Shows and Some Festivals Were Canceled

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LONDON ( -- Ads involving consumer participation were the big award winners last year, according to the Big Won 2009, a global report that ranks the world's top creative work by awards won across all media.

Tourism Queensland's 'The best job in the world' from Nitro.
Tourism Queensland's 'The best job in the world' from Nitro.
Of the top 10 campaigns, only one, DDB, London's print work for London department store Harvey Nichols, is a traditional media campaign. The others are all ideas that rely on consumer input, including Tourism Queensland's "The best job in the world" from Nitro; T-Mobile's "Dance" by Saatchi & Saatchi, London; and brewer James Ready's "Share our billboard" by Leo Burnett, Toronto.

"This is the big seismic shift in our business," said Patrick Collister, a former Ogilvy U.K. executive creative director who compiles the annual report, which initially focused on direct marketing but has expanded to cover other media. "We've had 100 years of business-to-consumer advertising, now the web has enabled us to get people actively involved and talking to each other. If the idea is interesting enough, consumers will do the work for you."

The U.S. was the top-ranked country in the report, and was also top for new media, digital and integrated work, thanks mostly to the widespread success at award shows of Droga 5's "The Great Schlep" and Burger King's "Whopper Sacrifice" by Crispin Porter & Bogusky. These same two campaigns ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the digital top 10.

The only specialist digital agency in the entire digital top 10 was AKQA, at No. 1, thanks to the Fiat Ecodrive campaign. Mr. Collister said, "This proves that no one owns digital. Traditional agencies have struggled to make advertising ideas work in the digital space, but now they understand that you need a different sort of idea, something a lot more abstract. Digital agencies, however, are struggling to succeed offline, and risk becoming nothing more than production companies, reducing information to binary code."

The digital category has now become something of a headache for awards-show organizers, as it covers everything from gaming and viral to banner advertising. Mr. Collister predicts that separate "application" categories may well appear this year to reward creativity in this field.

Conversely, the report highlights TV advertising's declining importance. The highest-ranked TV-only campaign in 2009 was a spot from Leo Burnett, London, "House of Cards," for homeless charity Shelter, which came in at No. 25. The top TV work in 2008, Sony "Play-doh" by Fallon, London, ranked No. 4.

The impact of the global recession is also clear in the Won Report, which shows a drop in both awards-show entries and awards shows themselves. The top-scoring campaigns accumulated a lot fewer points in 2009 than in 2008, indicating that they were entered less often and in fewer categories. The top TV campaign, for instance, picked up 66 points in 2009, compared with 127 points in 2008.

The recession also knocked some awards shows off the radar entirely. Shows that didn't take place in 2009 included France's direct marketing awards, Les Cubes, and the Scandinavian regional awards, Dark Knight. Creative Circle in Singapore also took a break last year.

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