Wieden & Kennedy took home top honors at Ad Age's A-List & Creativity Awards Gala on Thursday night, which was held at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan.
The longtime creative powerhouse was named Agency of the Year on the annual A-List announced in February and, on Thursday, it won Campaign of the Year for KFC's "The Return of Colonel Sanders." In addition to a string of celebrities who each took a turn as the titular founder of the fried chicken empire, a cavalcade of activations made ol' Harland Sanders a ubiquitous presence, from video games to DC Comics to the edge of outer space. Check out all the Creativity awrads winners here.
W&K also won the Content Marketing of the Year award for Nike's ambitious "Breaking2" track documentary, created with production company Dirty Robber. While none of the three elite runners recruited for the project broke the two-hour marathon barrier, one came pretty damn close—just one second per mile off the required pace.
W&K's co-Chief Creative Officers Colleen DeCourcy and Susan Hoffman shared the Chief Creative Officer of the Year award. And for their work on KFC, the independent agency's Jason Kreher won Creative Director of the Year and Jesse Johnson won Account Manager of the Year. The client made an appearance at the gala, too: KFC's Director of Brand Communications George Felix was also named Brand Marketer of the Year.
"This year, everybody at the agency just gave ourselves permission to break it down and build it again and see if we could. And we did," DeCourcy says. She gave credit to the agency's talented workforce. "Nobody wants to drive a great car off a cliff."
McCann, which placed second on the A-List, also won Creativity awards. The fervently lauded effigy "Fearless Girl," cast for State Street Global Advisors, was awarded Experiential Campaign of the Year. With every industry award known to woman now clutched in her bronze fist, the statue, by sculptor Kristen Visbal, is being readied for a move to its new home in front of the New York Stock Exchange.
McCann New York's Tali Gumbiner and Lizzie Wilson—the duo responsible for the statue—tied for Creative of the Year with J. Walter Thompson's Jessica Toye.
"[The awards] reflect the fearlessness of all the people we have at our agencies, the people that drive the creativity, the business, who determine the way we think, the way we deliver," says Chris MacDonald, president of McCann Worldgroup North America. "I think that's reflected in what we won tonight."
At JWT, Toye worked on "Unsafety Check," an app for Black Lives Matter that put a socially relevant spin on the Facebook feature, which took the award for Technology Application of the Year. Rather than assuring friends and family that they had weathered a dangerous situation unscathed, black Americans used the tool to declare their constant peril in the firm grip of systemic racism.
Anomaly, the fifth-ranked entry on the A-List, landed a Creativity Award for Managing Partner Gareth Goodall, winner for Strategic Planner of the Year.
The winners of the Craft of the Year award: a tie between "Live Looper," a recursive Facebook Live video for Downtown Records by BBDO New York, and Ikea Canada's "Cook This Page," recipes printed on cooking parchment paper (with directions for where to place ingredients) by Leo Burnett Toronto. The award for Short-Form/Tiny-but-Mighty went to Ikea and its response to a move by luxury fashion brand Balenciaga to replicate Ikea's blue take-home bags.
FCB Canada's "Down Syndrome Answers" tapped the most knowledgeable sources for information about the condition, winning Best Work for Good for The Canadian Down Syndrome Society. Rattling Stick's Ringan Ledwidge's work for Jose Cuervo, Chanel and Audi gave him the Director of the Year award.
3% Movement founder Kat Gordon won Visionary/Founder of the Year for her work on gender parity in the ad industry. Buzzfeed's Tasty One Top tabletop hot plate took the award for Product of the Year. The Ad Tech/Marketing Tech of the Year award went to Popwallet, a smartphone-based virtual payment service. And Brandless, an inexpensive range of unbranded products, won Startup of the Year.
After Wieden & Kennedy and McCann, VML placed third on the A-List, followed by Johannes Leonardo. R/GA took sixth place, followed by Laundry Service, 360i and 72andSunny. Droga5 tied for 10th place with MullenLowe, which also won the Creativity Award for Media Planner of the Year for Mediahub's Simeon Edwards.
David Miami won Agency Innovator of the Year; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners won Comeback Agency of the Year; BBH Singapore won International Agency of the Year; Spotify won In-House Agency of the Year; MRM/McCann won BtoB Agency of the Year; The Community won Multicultural Agency of the Year; Assembly won Media Agency of the Year; Somesuch won Production Company of the Year; and Goodby's Margaret Johnson won Executive of the Year.