We, the Jury

Imagine sitting in a dark room viewing endless hours of videotape evidence, emerging only to pore over reams of documents stuffed with facts and figures. There are contradictions to resolve, detailed explanations to digest, questionable information to consider.

Then you’re sequestered, determined to leave behind all your preconceived notions and reach the right decision. The debates begin. They are, by turns, passionate and pedestrian. There seems to be a deadlock; time is running out.

Anyone who has served on a jury knows this process. Here at Adweek, we call it Agency of the Year.

This year’s installment brought the usual dilemmas. There were shops with outstanding reels whose clients, for various reasons, have been dropping like flies. There were agencies that enjoyed tremendous revenue growth, but whose work made it difficult not to groan.

This year was perhaps even tougher than years past because we were determined to go deeper, to look beyond the traditional criteria. Stellar work and financial results were simply the point of entry.

While we always weigh strategic initiatives and other intangibles, this year we looked closely at who had a firm grasp of the so-called “new realities” of the business. Integration and interactivity, for instance, were the areas that began to separate the winners from the runners-up.

Some agencies, even a few with genuine creative genius, still have their heads in the sand when it comes to the future of communications. Others, like our threepeat global winner, McCann-Erickson, and our U.S. winner, Ogilvy & Mather, are clearly leading the pack.

We also select an Agency of the Year for each of the six regions in which we publish. This doesn’t mean these agencies operate locally. It simply gives us a chance to honor agencies based in different cities.

Fallon, for example, our Midwest Agency of the Year for 2000, was the national winner in 1996. In the Southwest, Omnicom’s GSD&M is on top for the sixth time. The other winners are Interpublic’s Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in New England; McKinney & Silver in the Southeast; BBDO in the East; and, for the first time, Deutsch in the West. (Coverage of regional winners begins on page 46).

Our President’s Award, honoring excellence at a nontraditional agency, this year goes to Rapp Collins.

We also have a new addition this year. Anyone who followed the headlines in 2000 knows how dramatically—and rapidly—the media function in advertising has been transformed and elevated. It’s time to acknowledge that the trend has become the convention, and that media agencies are here to stay. So this year, for the first time, we name a Media Agency of the Year, and it wasn’t too hard to pick one: Starcom MediaVest Group is clearly the benchmark for its peers in new business and client service.

Our annual report card issue, ranking and evaluating more than 100 agencies in the U.S. and abroad, will be published on April 16. That issue, too, will bring new features, including our inaugural list of the top 10 media agencies.

Congratulations to the winners.