This year’s Agency of the Year judging process forced us to tackle a basic question: What’s more important, growth or creativity? Ideally, the two would go hand in hand, and making a choice would not be necessary. Luckily, more often than not, that is the case. Last year, our Global Agency of the Year, BBDO, won more new business than any other network and, as always, produced outstanding work. It was a no-brainer of a selection. In 2006, we found ourselves having a fairly heated debate, as we weighed the value of revenue versus reinvention, growth versus greatness. Yes, advertising is a business, and anyone who’s been acquired knows the fiscal realities that come along with that. But it’s still a creative business, and we decided that creative excellence can trump better numbers. After all, this award is not just about new business wins; it’s meant to honor overall performance. Toward that end, our two award-winning agencies for 2006, TBWA and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners have multiple successes in common: They both posted impressive revenue gains, growing mainly by expanding business from existing clients, which just happens to be the smarter way to build an agency. Sometimes we all get far too enamored by big, blockbuster account wins and the shiny new ad campaigns that go along with them. It’s sexy. But what’s more difficult, and more interesting in many ways, is for an agency to continuously come up with original ideas to keep existing campaigns fresh as both of our Agencies of the Year did. TBWA produced an attention-grabbing campaign for Apple, “Mac vs. PC,” that managed to charm as it aggressively attacked the competition in ads that traveled to overseas markets. And Goodby, Silverstein created an impressive “Got milk?” campaign that recast its long-standing deprivation strategy to a cow-abducting population of aliens, using TV and the Web. In general, both agencies produced the best work in the business in 2006. Finally, both agencies experienced success as a result of a significant transformation. At Goodby, Silverstein, the agency pulled off what Omnicom CEO John Wren refers to as a “true reinvention.” The San Francisco shop grew into a fully integrated agency, managing to transfer its classic storytelling skills to new media, becoming more relevant for the digital age. TBWA, meanwhile, after years of efforts, gelled as a true network for the first time; and as a result, was able to grow its multinational accounts. In our Jan. 15 issue, we will present our Hispanic Agency of the Year. Then, in the Jan. 22 issue, we will profile our Interactive Agency of the Year, followed by our Media Agencies of the Year on Feb. 26. Congratulations to all our winners and good luck to everyone in 2007.
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