BBDO leads the world in creative award tally

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If all the most important creative award shows around the world were combined, the winner would be BBDO Worldwide.

In The Gunn Report, the second annual tabulation of award winners from 46 top international and national competitions, BBDO edged out last year's winner and Omnicom Group sibling network, DDB Worldwide. Although Omnicom agencies commonly dominate creative festivals, the group's third network, TBWA Worldwide, dropped from third to sixth place this year as Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett Co. kept Omnicom from stealing all the top slots.

BBDO's victory was due to the numerous prizes picked up in 2000 by its London shop, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO. In a separate ranking of the top 50 individual agencies, The Gunn Report named AMV BBDO as the single agency to win the most creative awards.

The Gunn Report, to be released this week, was compiled by Donald Gunn, who retired two years ago after an international career in Leo Burnett Co.'s creative department. Mr. Gunn, an avid festivalgoer who was often said to watch more TV spots than anyone else in the world, was always fascinated by compiling and analyzing commercials and became an expert at spotting trends and picking winners.

One surprise in this year's report: the most-awarded commercial in 2000 wasn't DDB Chicago's ubiquitous "Whassup?!" campaign for Budweiser beer but, in a good year for beer advertisers, a spectacular AMV BBDO commercial for Guinness beer. Called "Surfer," the spot featured people and high-kicking horses cavorting in the foamy surf.

THE SPIRIT OF GUINNESS

"The inherent [Guinness] drama is taking a long time to pour a pint," Mr. Gunn said. "But good things come to those who wait. For the surfing fanatics, it's waiting for the perfect wave. The crest of the wave turns into a galloping white horse, a metaphor for the force and magnificence of the perfect wave."

It was mainly the agency's work for Guinness-including another commercial featuring snails supposedly racing and print ads emphasizing the beer's icy cold temperature-that catapulted AMV BBDO to the top.

But if anyone has found a magic formula for inspiring advertising that people-or at least awards judges-love, it's Volkswagen. The German carmaker won more creative awards than any other marketer for the second year in a row. But unlike Guinness, which was this year's No. 3 advertiser based on AMV BBDO's wildly successful U.K. campaign, Volkswagen wins awards throughout the U.S., Latin America and Europe year after year.

"Volkwagen's winning total came from eight different agencies in eight different markets and a grand total of 27 different campaigns," Mr. Gunn said.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS:

* Ten of the top 50 award-winning agencies are U.S. offices and nine are U.K.-based. Ranking just behind London agency AMV BBDO are Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., and Fallon, New York and Minneapolis.

* The print campaign that won the most creative awards this year was the moving Virginia Holocaust Museum work from the Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.

* This year's most-improved network was Euro RSCG Worldwide, moving up to the No. 8 slot from 11 last year. Euro RSCG's jump was due almost entirely to persuading one of Argentina's top agencies, Lautrec, to dump Saatchi & Saatchi and become Euro RSCG's agency in Buenos Aires. The new Lautrec Euro RSCG agency won more creative awards than any other in the Euro RSCG network.

* Mr. Gunn noted that the number of networks ranked this year fell from 20 to 18. Ammirati Puris Lintas, No. 13 last year, merged with Lowe Group to form Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide. And Bozell Worldwide, the very last network at No. 20 last year, disappeared outside the U.S. as its haphazard scattering of international offices, for the most part, merged with parent True North's FCB Worldwide.

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