Breaking through

Newcomers Red Urban and Dare both crack the Creative Report Card's top 20, while Saatchi & Saatchi and JWT make big gains.

We talked to some of the big agency movers and newcomers on our top 20 list about what it takes to break through the clutter, what’s next for them and what their strategy was going into awards season.

The Newcomers

Red Urban: #11
To hit the 11th spot in your very first year is no small feat, and Christina Yu and company struck gold at several shows this year (including ADCC and the Marketing Awards) thanks to “Super Sexy CPR,” a viral vid for small retailer Fortnight Lingerie. When your video becomes an instruction guide for British soldiers, you know it’s hit the big time. Work for Volkswagen and Richmond Optometry also helped boost Red Urban’s score.
What does it take to have a big idea for a small client, like Super Sexy CPR, break through all the other boundary-pushing viral wannabes?
“We had a seeding program in place but before we launched that we sent it to a couple of friends, family and a few people in L.A. We must have some influential friends because a day later the site was getting 25 hits a second. Before the first week ended we were at well over a million views. If you have a powerful idea to share you don’t need to pay to spread it.” –Christina Yu, CD

Dare: #20
In late 2010, Cossette acquired this U.K.-based digital agency and split Vancouver into two independent operations – Dare and Cossette West. But no one expected Rob Sweetman and co to take their time when it came to scooping up awards, and thanks to often-humorous work for the likes of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival and x-rated TV channel Amour, they picked up hardware including ADCC, Communication Arts and the Lotus Awards.
What sets Dare Vancouver apart from its U.K. counterpart, and from Cossette?
“Planning, tech and innovation are three things that make Dare different from some of the other agencies around, and are some of the best parts of Dare London…We’ve incorporated a lot of the way that they do business [in the U.K.] but not all of it. We’ve added a lot of planning assets, for instance. Dare in Vancouver is focused on clients within Canada, but the focus worldwide for the Dare network is to work together as an international presence. The plan is for Dare to take on the world stage.” –Bryan Collins and Rob Sweetman, CDs

The Big Movers

Saatchi & Saatchi: #16
Last year: #30
Spots moved: 14
Saatchi makes a significant jump this year, thanks in large part to a poignant campaign for the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada. The @Random documentary project involved dozens of small films about people living with TS, arranged online to make a larger documentary, which changed with each new visitor, mimicking the random nature of the disorder. It won Gold at the ADCC and at the AToMiC Awards, with work for gift registry site Wedding Republic and FITC rounding out the wins.
What was your awards-entry strategy? Have you been trying to build credentials in certain areas?
“Brian [Sheppard] and I mapped out our objectives, and [we’ve] judged a few shows in the last year and that’s allowed us to enter work more effectively. Everybody is talking about trying to do great digital and wanting to be social, but we see ourselves as an ideas company, so it just so happens that in the past year or so a lot of our ideas came to life in the digital space.” –Helen Pak, CD

JWT: #17
Last year: #26
Spots moved: 10
Known for delivering ROI for mega-clients like Walmart and Tim Hortons, it’s no surprise that JWT does well at the show awarding effectiveness in advertising – the CASSIES – pulling in a Gold for its Blue Cat campaign for Smarties, as well as hardware for Kit Kat Chunky and Reactine. Its charitable work with the Brandaid initiative also earned it a Silver in the CSR category at the AToMiC Awards.
What has been JWT’s advantage on the awards circuit?
“Judges like to award work for brands they recognize. That clearly worked for us in Canada with Tim Hortons, and with Walmart, Johnson & Johnson and Nestlé at the international shows. In 2011 the JWT Worldwide Creative Council had a goal for Network of the Year at Cannes (JWT placed 4th up from an estimated 17th). This is not only about winning awards, but demonstrating our creative credentials to current as well as potential clients.”
–Martin Shewchuk, ECD

Jump to:

Creative Report Card intro
James Ready expands in 2012: Leo Burnett and the beerco top the CRC
Other Leo award winners
BBDO and Wrigley get global attention
Top advertiser runners-up: big year for candy and cars
Big agency movers and newcomers
Rethinking on a budget: CD duo Chris Staples and Ian Grais take third
Art & copy runners-up
Agencies: full list
Advertisers: full list
Creative directors: full list
Art directors: full list
Copywriters: full list