Agency of the Year ate our redesign

Executive editor Mary Maddever provides a glimpse behind the scenes of AOY and Strategy's redesign.

Every year, starting in the spring, the Agency of the Year marathon occupies the minds of many. It begins with the agencies, who put a lot of thought into what campaigns will work best at the polling stage. Senior marketing execs then mull which shops’ body of work deserves shortlisting. And, finally, the judges weigh in on who turned in the overall best thinking of the year. It’s a lot of work, but this issue contains the year’s best plans, programs and campaigns from Canada’s top shops, and with the debut of Digital Agency of the Year, there’s even more learning here for everyone.
Around the edges of all that, this issue debuts a refresh for strategy by our multi-talented CD Stephen Stanley. After all, our last makeover was in 2004, back when we flipped from newsprint to a monthly glossy with niche online offshoots. This change isn’t so radical. Over the years we’ve honed the direction based on your feedback, and have now filtered out everything except the content deemed keeper. Going forward, we’ve tossed out our formatted approach to have flexibility to cover any topic that falls into our “bold vision, brand new ideas” zone – and you’ll find more of the inspirational innovation you’ve asked for.
From our Skittle-encrusted cover to our apocalyptic Back Page, this issue is dominated by AOY, with a large swathe of that being BBDO cases. It’s likely no surprise that they did so well – this year’s FedEx and Skittles work had that coveted water cooler chat factor, but no one’s ever won so many AOY trophies in one year: AOY Gold and DAOY Silver, plus a Digital Gold for Proximity.
Kudos also to Taxi and John St., for picking up both AOY and DAOY awards. Creative shops can truly master digital. And clients are more comfortable in this space. Taxi has taken Gold five times in the past 10 years by following their “doubt the conventional” MO. And this year, in the story on the agency’s Bronze win (p. 52) Taxi CEO Rob Guenette says he’s also seen a shift with conservative clients: “Now that they’ve tasted innovation, they can see how it works on a broad holistic level and they’re starting to have quite an appetite for it.”
That hunger has seen our Gold Media winner MediaCom, Silver winner Media Experts and Bronze winner Mindshare, like many others, set their sights on seeding digital thinking across the board. The MAOY cases reflect this new focus, and are interchangeable with AOY or Digital cases on the creative solutions front.
One thing that emerged from the cases was the speed at which digital programs can rack up huge results. We’re just seeing the ones that worked, often driven by a ripple effect from a traditional media splash, but it does show the potential when you get the mercurial power of off- and online right.
So please consume as many of the cases that ate our issue as you possibly can because, as one of our judges said, Canada’s agencies are world-class.

Cheers, mm
Mary Maddever, exec editor, strategy, Media in Canada and stimulant