Creativity's Honor Roll: Five That Stood Out in 2009

Game-Changing Ideas. New-Business Wins. Here's What Else These Top Shops Have in Common

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GOODBY, SILVERSTEIN & PARTNERS
We'd say another year, another remarkable body of work from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. Only it wasn't just another year, which made Goodby's creative contribution that much more remarkable. The San Francisco powerhouse added a wad of new business, including eBay, Yahoo, Fritos, Lipton, Dickies, Sierra Mist and more.

Sprint Now Widget
Sprint Now Widget
Goodby also won the top-agency slot on the Creativity Awards Report by a mile -- earning points for a range of work, including the Comcast "Rabbit" spot; the web adventure Hotel 626 for Doritos; Help the Honeybees, an integrated campaign with a heart for Haagen Dazs; the culturally penetrating "There Can Only Be One" campaign for the NBA; and more. For its interactively inclined ways, the shop also earned digital agency of the year honors at Cannes.

In 2009, Goodby maintained its creative standard, sharpened its digital discipline and all around demonstrated why it's consistently one of the best agencies anywhere. Real-time and data visualization were among the most discussed web/culture talking points of the year, and Goodby harnessed both, stylishly, for client Sprint. With the "Now Network" campaign, the agency made Sprint all about real- time data, with online efforts such as the Now widget and a TV campaign that stood out for its clean, modern combination of dynamic data visualization and dry humor.

Denny's Nannerpuss
Denny's Nannerpuss
Goodby was out in front of one of the other big things of 2009 -- augmented reality. The agency created one of the first brand AR applications as part of GE's Plug into the Smart Grid site. Later in 2009, it used the tech to bring rock concerts to the back of chip bags for Doritos' Late Night flavors.

The shop also used the Super Bowl to dramatic effect, exploiting that singular audience opportunity to tout compelling, real-world marketing initiatives. For Denny's, Goodby created a funny spot to promote the restaurant chain's offer of a free Grand Slam breakfast to all comers (and also gave the world the immortal Nannerpus). Two million got the message and showed up for their day's worth of free calories. And the agency helped departing client Hyundai achieve sales gains with its Hyundai Assurance spots.

Goodby also followed up admirably on the successful Hotel 626 for Doritos with a scarier scarefest, Asylum 626, brought back Milk spokesman White Gold, who topped last year's performance with a rock opera, "Battle for Milkquarious," created humanizing spots for Comcast and much more.


DROGA5
Method Shiny Suds
Method Shiny Suds
When New York-based Droga5 was named Creativity's agency of the year in 2007, just over a year after launching, the classic industry backlash centered on complaints that the agency wasn't working on behalf of "real" or big enough marketers. Never mind that with its early work, the agency won every award available, and never mind that that work -- efforts such as the Tap Project -- represented the kind of big, useful ideas the industry says it should be producing. Somehow it still wasn't enough for a year-old agency.

After its 2009 performance, D5 has surely silenced the where's-the-beefers with even more new business wins. To its duties as AOR for Method, Rhapsody, Net10, Puma and others, last year the agency added Unilever (digital AOR for Suave), Activision and other clients and is working on projects for the likes of Coke and Estée Lauder.

Tony Hawk Viral
Tony Hawk Viral
And growing 40% in a terrible year didn't mean sacrificing creative standards. Per usual, the agency produced outstanding work in 2009, including a stellar viral for Activision featuring beloved skateboaring canine Tillman playing (or appearing to play) the Tony Hawk "Ride" game and a much-discussed spot for Method that became even more discussed when it was pulled in response to consumer complaints. The shop created a visually arresting spot and a site (with Firstborn) for Puma's LIFT shoes and, for Puma Bodywear, an app built around comely models and the premise: when the markets go down, the clothes come off. In 2009, the shop became the first agency ever to capture not one but two D&AD Black Pencils for two different clients -- winning for "The Great Schlep" as well as the Million project for the New York City department of education. To cap it all off, the shop's spawn, Droga5, Sydney, was named agency of the year in Australia and has turned out one after another interesting, innovative brand initiatives.


CRISPIN PORTER & BOGUSKY
BK Whopper Sacrifice
BK Whopper Sacrifice
Whatever the opposite of resting on one's laurels is, Crispin does it. Every year. The agency once again earned its status as a game-changing idea place in 2009, with things such as Whopper Sacrifice for Burger King, which had so many people ditching their Facebook "friends" (nearly 234,000 sacrificed) in favor of the famed sandwich, that Zuckerberg, et al. finally had to step in and spoil the fun. The shop did its rabble-rousing duty with the controversial "Whopper Virgins" campaign, which had people in far-flung locales sampling BK beef for the first time and then created "Flame," allowing burger fans to douse themselves in eau de boeuf.

For Best Buy, the agency created Twelpforce, allowing consumers to tweet questions to BB employees. In addition to unleashing cute Kylie, the photo-forwarding tot, Crispin also helped Microsoft make hay out of forward momentum created by the critical success of Windows 7 with a series of ads that has proud PCs asserting "Windows 7 was my idea." The shop appropriated the celebrity gossip mag aesthetic for Old Navy, creating a cast of Supermodelquins that appeared in stores, in spots and in the online Old Navy weekly. There was more, including a Washington road trip for electric motorcycle maker Brammo and a nicely updated version of a classic spot for Coke Zero. The agency also expanded its European presence with the acquisition of Swedish digital player Daddy.


BIG SPACESHIP
Second Life
Second Life
One of the things that will be interesting to watch in 2010 will be the potential obviation of agency classifications -- digital agency, full-service agency, production company, etc. -- and the degree to which digitally centered shops of all stripes gain a bigger share of clients' hearts. With that in mind, Big Spaceship, a shop that has always defied easy categorization, will be one to watch in the coming year.

The company, which in recent years has done high-profile agency-affiliated work such as HBO "Voyeur," has expanded in directions strategic, creative and technological. In 2009, it seemed to capitalize on an open, entrepreneurial approach to work and its own identity. Last year the Spaceship did everything from spearhead a huge "Second Life" UX redesign and the launch of Paramount/Lions Gate/MGM movie site EPix to developing The Next Move, a mobile app for Urban Daddy that recommends nightlife venues based on location, companions and mood. The company also gained attention for some of its proprietary efforts, such as Pretty Loaded, an online archive of web screen loaders. Of course, the agency took a significant step forward with the win of Wrigley's digital account (the business is shared with Firstborn and EVB), and it's also developed a strategic partnership with Activision another major marketer. All of which will likely move Big Spaceship, like our agency of the year, into some interesting new territory in the coming years.


GLOBAL STANDOUT: DDB, STOCKHOLM
Volkswagen Fun Theory
Volkswagen Fun Theory
In recent years, DDB, Stockholm, has become a global spotlight hog, thanks to its inventive, platform-agnostic campaigns that always seem to strike a human note. The continuing Swedish Armed Forces campaign, which has put its audience through rigorous tests of mental acumen, remained as compelling as ever in its third year, posing a new set of challenges that ran across all platforms. The agency managed to serve up some real truths in its refreshing work for McDonald's, which included the "Casanova" print effort, featuring a man who tosses out drunken pick-up lines throughout the night, finally settling for a simple request for a Big Mac. The agency also didn't dumb it down for consumers in no-frills McD posters that featured nothing but a red and yellow color palette, a pocket-friendly price and the tagline, "The World's Most Famous Hamburger."

DDB Stockholm's high point, however, was the "Fun Theory" campaign for Volkswagen, a viral sensation and one of Creativity's top picks of 2009. The effort, which gently touts VW's fuel efficiency, aims to convince people to make better choices for themselves by making those better options fun. It's also asking the rest of the world to do its part with a contest to generate even more do-gooder ideas. It's the kind of big, scalable, participatory idea that should serve as a model for brand creativity in the '10s.


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