Creative Heavyweights

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We used to call it the Zenith List -- but in what passes for inspiration around here, we decided that our list of who walked away with the most gold and silver awards shall henceforth be known as Creativity's Award Awards. OK, so it's not a terribly poetic name, but it is a pretty accurate description of what's going in the next seven pages. Namely, this: We locked staff reporter Ann Christine Diaz in an office with a pile of award manuals, a calculator, and an extra set of batteries. There, cut off from the world and her daily ration of, she applied our secret scoring system to tally the winners of six shows: the Art Directors Club Awards, the Andys, the One Show, the Cannes Lions, the Clios, and the AICP Show (the latter one, in recognition of its increased importance, is new to our lineup). If your ad won bronze, or an honorable mention, you got bupkis from us. Only gold and silver made it onto our list, and the more of those you scored, the higher up your company climbed on our list. But not all precious metal is created equal: that's why we assigned a higher point value to a Cannes gold Lion than to an otherwise comparable Clio, for instance. So sue us. As always, you had to play to win. That means our deck is inevitably stacked against agencies that don't enter all these shows (or none of them). Also, we're aware that there's some American bias here, since most non-U.S. agencies do not enter shows on these shores. For the first time, we've gone beyond agency rankings, expanding the Award Awards to include production firms, postproduction companies, and clients. That established names like Cliff Freeman and Radical Media get to wear this year's champion's belt may not be a surprise. But they're not the only Lords of the Ring. The lists also show that it's time to study the superb creative K.O.'s of contenders like South-Africa's Jupiter Drawing Room and Brazil's F/Nazca a little more closely. Time for the final round!

First Place Cliff Freeman & Partners/New York

The 1999 zany Zenith-topper works its way back to the number one spot in 2001, thanks to a massive Fox Sports sweep at this year's shows. The hilarious Fox NBA campaign, which depicts the court-crashing hoop dreams of wannabe goofball homeboys Alan and Jerome, picked up four Golds at the Art Directors Club and slam-dunked a Best of Show at the One Club's fete. The shop's oddball take on international sports -- featuring bizarre contests like a Russian slapfest, a Chinese tree-felling, and a Turkish dirt-dive -- took Gold at the ADC and the Clios, and landed the most coveted award of them all, the Cannes Grand Prix.

Second Place Goodby, Silverstein & Partners/S.F.

After falling to number 10 on last year's list, San Francisco laugh factory Goodby, Silverstein shoots to number two with a bullet on the strength of work for a range of clients, including E*Trade, Pac Bell, Budweiser, and The Wall Street Journal. The hilarious "What Are You Doing?" -- the sanctioned parody of DDB/Chicago's "Whassup" campaign for Bud -- snagged a Gold Clio; the saga of a neighborhood ripped apart by cable internet access for Pac Bell DSL earned a Gold Lion; and WSJ print work walked away with a Silver Pencil. Toss in a handful of Clios and Andys for a series of gun control ads that imagine the world if infamous assassins had been limited to blunt objects, and the shop comes in at a solid number two. And you know what that means.

Third Place Arnold Worldwide/Boston

The Boston shop zooms back onto the international charts this year, its path lined with gorgeous visuals for automo-muse Volkswagen. A stunning print campaign for the Beetle, in which the vehicle is futilely upstaged by bold distractions like a lettuce-clad beauty or a man blanketed with bees, snagged kudos at every show. After a painful three-hour deadlock among Cannes judges, it struck Gold but just missed winning the Grand Prix, which went to Paradiset's work for Diesel. In broadcast, the dreamy Nick Drake-accompanied "Milky Way" spot for the Cabriolet earned an Andy, and "Ransom," which cleverly depicted the fruitless kidnapping of an unbelievably unwealthy Passat owner, hit Gold Lion paydirt. Arnold chairman/CCO Ron Lawner is satisfied with the year's output. "I love when real advertising is acknowledged at the shows," he says. "This is work for real products that does sell things and is also winning awards. This is work that works hard. That's as good as it's ever going to get."

Fourth Place BMP DDB/London

This Brit shop showed that beauty is only page-deep in its Grand Clio-nabbing print campaign for the Volkswagen Beetle. In one ad from the "Fun on the Outside" campaign, the cutout silhouette of the car from a vividly colored funnies page of a newspaper reveals newsprint underneath. Another shows a Beetle-shaped window on a Snakes and Ladders gameboard that opens up to the black and white squares of a crossword puzzle. Cannes judges also honored the shop with a Gold Lion for the VW TV spot "Driving Test" (in which an overprotective dad hesitates to let his newly-licensed son drive his Passat), and with a Silver Lion for a Nicorette gum print ad.

Fifth Place The Jupiter Drawing Room/Johannesburg

This independent South African shop made some cosmic creative leaps this year, thanks in good part to client Nike. The agency got the Gold at Cannes and the One Show with effectively subtle print work for the extra bouncy Nike Shox shoe. One ad featured a basketball court outfitted with trampoline springs, and another shows a vertically-challenged basketball player who stands confidently in a lineup with his towering teammates. Also honored at both events was a campaign for Nike Paralympics that challenged onlookers to take a second glance at photos of physically disabled athletes by highlighting their unexpected achievements. "It's okay to stare," reads the copy over a closeup of an armless man. "It's hard not to when you're looking at a world record holder." The Clio Awards bestowed Gold on the shop for its sultry "Train to Win" spot, which poetically captures a long-distance runner in the sweaty glory of training for a big race.

Sixth Place TBWA/Chiat/Day/los angeles

It's usually smog, brushfires, or earthquakes that cause Angelenos to sit up and take notice of their environment, but TBWA/L.A. made its own seismic shift in the local surroundings with its campaign for Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art. Billboards, television sets, clothes hangers, and even gasoline pumps were labeled as pieces in an outdoor installation for the museum's latest exhibit: its own attempt to plug itself. The campaign single-handedly landed TBWA on our list this year and registered highly on the creative Richter scale: The Art Directors Club gave it a total of 11 awards --one Gold and 10 Silvers. It also earned Silver and Gold from the Clios and the One Show.

Seventh Place O&M/Singapore

Asia's notoriously creative O&M hub gave the proverbial man upstairs a new 'tude in its Clio- and Lion-winning print pieces for Churches of the Love Singapore Movement. The ultra-basic white-on-black print ads promoting God humanize the deity by giving Him an acerbic flair for turning cliched sayings on their atheistic heads. One spunky line reads, "Nietzsche is dead. -- God." Another spins off a classic David Ogilvy statement. "I hate rules," the adman once said. "That's why I only made ten of them," adds the big G. Sex also sold for the Singapore shop in its print work ("Cleavage," "Navel," and "Bottom") for Asia Pacific Breweries' Guinness Stout.

Eighth Place Leo Burnett/London

The popular `Bear Fight' commercial for John West salmon definitely helped put Leo Burnett/London on the leader board this year. The slapstick spot, which features a tangle between a John West employee and a bear over who walks away with the choicest salmon, became an online sensation late last year and very nearly won the Grand Prix at Cannes. Instead, it won a Gold Lion, not to mention a Gold Clio. The agency also scored an Andy with John West print work. But it wasn't just a one-client awards season for Burnett U.K. The shop won three film Gold Lions in all, one more than even Cliff Freeman and as many as Germany, Spain, and France combined. Other Lion-worthy work included a spot demonstrating the quick preparation time of Heinz microwaveable soup by comparing it to slam-bam coitus, and a series of 10-second commercials for McDonald's, each showing how long someone would have to work to afford a hamburger priced at just 99p.

Ninth Place CLM/BBDO/Paris

Dark humor helped secure a spot on the charts for this Paris branch of the BBDO family. Clio-winning print work for French clothier Kookai offered a new take on the client's long-running concept of "man as plaything." Historically, the ads have whimsically trifled with miniaturized men and depicted their Lilliputian figures swimming in fishbowls or separating the toes of a nail-painting diva. This year's winners, showed, blew up the male form back into full bare-chested glory. A variety of unclothed pecs, ranging from fleshy to rock hard, are emblazoned with hideous scars to show where their hearts have been ripped out, presumably by Kookaï-donning nymphettes. The agency also scored big with its Gold Lion-snaring TV campaign for Brandt appliances, which show people deliberately destroying their ovens, refrigerators, and washing machines just so they'll have an excuse to buy a Brandt.

Tenth Place F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi/SÃO Paulo

Brazil's F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi has a win list that is almost all print. The shop won Agency of the Year honors at Cannes on the strength of interactive work and two print Gold Lions. A very funny campaign for Natan Jewelry -- which shows ugly men who become hunky when they arrive bearing jewel-encrusted gifts - landed one Lion, while somber images of tree trunks that look like eyes, for Fundacao SOS Mata Atlantica, a rainforest preservation group, was good for another. The latter also spirited an armload of Clios, two Golds and three Silvers, back to São Paulo.

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