International agency of the year revealed

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LONDON--Advertising Age International magazine today names Roche Macaulay & Partners of Toronto as International Agency of the Year.

The agency's biting creative style for such multinational clients as Reebok Canada, MercedesBenz Canada, Ikea Germany and others helped Roche Macaulay to earn the award, judged on creative quality.

Selected as runners-up in the competition were the London-based offices of Mother and M&C Saatchi.

The 24-month-old Mother is a quirky renegade "ideas factory" that produces ads for the likes of Unilever and Coca-Cola Co. The agency has a distinct style that is irreverent, young and humorous. "There is an attitude [running through the work] which is stronger than the way things are shot," said Mark Waites, one of Mother's four co-founders.

M&C Saatchi has grown billings of the breakaway agency to $340 million in just three years with such flagship accounts as British Airways. "The one thing that runs through our ads is simplicity of thought," said Moray MacLennan, M&C Saatchi joint chief executive. "Our thinking is not fluffy, it's very tight."

Roche Macaulay, a mid-sized Canadian shop overshadowed by a dominant U.S. market in a country not known for inspiring creative work, saw billings increase by 11% to $90 million in 1998 after enduring several months of management turmoil following a 1996 minority sale to Interpublic Group's Lowe Group in London.

This year, founder Geoffrey Roche is keen to establish a U.S. office to pursue U.S. clients. "We can only grow so big by going after business in Canada," said the Toronto-born Mr. Roche, president and creative director, who spent eight of his 22 career years working at notably creative U.S. agencies.

The winner and runners-up were chosen by Ad Age International editors based on creative work submitted by agencies from around the world.

Copyright April 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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