It's not often we get through an Agency of the Year meeting without somebody getting hurt.
The process generally kicks off with our reporters suggesting agencies they believe are worthy of consideration. We go through the numbers, account wins and losses, review the work, debate the value and results of a myriad of management initiatives, among other factors—and we finally get to a short list. Some years, that has left us with six or so agencies still in contention. That's when it would get ugly. We'd send the reporters back for more information. And we'd meet again, and again. Insults would be hurled, reporters would stop suggesting and instead start pitching for "their" shops. Information would be scrutinized even further. It can be a long, tedious and nerve-racking process, and my team dreads nothing more, except of course the more tedious Report Cards. Thankfully, this typically painful process went more smoothly this year with two agencies standing out. (There was only one other agency we seriously considered for top honors.) In the end, it came down to BBDO and Crispin Porter + Bogusky. At BBDO, our global winner, the year is nothing short of spectacular. New business poured in to the tune of $1.8 billion in billings—more than any other network—but the intangible achievement of its deep cultural transformation is equally impressive. Long considered a creative leader, BBDO has moved beyond its reliance on the star-studded 60-second spot to become more strategic, integrated and client-focused. Our U.S. Agency of the Year, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, has become the industry poster child for so-called media-agnostic ideas. The forward-thinking agency built on its break-out year in 2004, producing original ideas for clients like Mini and Burger King and logging another year of remarkable growth. In the fourth quarter, CP+B reeled in the coveted $400 million VW account, its largest account to date, without a review. With such meteoric rise often comes the true sign of success: peer envy. As one agency principal sniped last week upon learning of our selection: "They've peaked. They're going to be over soon. I'll bet you." Well, I took that bet. We all await the VW work with curiosity, and my guess is that Crispin, once again, will quiet any naysayers. In our Jan. 16 issue, we will profile our Interactive Agency of the Year. That will be followed, on Jan. 30, with the Hispanic Agency of the Year, as selected by our sister publication Marketing y Medios. And finally, the Media Agency of the Year will be unveiled on Feb. 27. We see a time, in the not-so-distant future, when there will be no such distinctions among agencies and their expertise. Until that time, congratulations to all our Agency of the Year winners.