The ‘World’s Smartest Creative Agency’ Is…

By Patrick Coffee 

anxious ad creative

So WARC, or the UK-based World Advertising Research Center, released a list today. WARC, for those who don’t know it, describes itself as “an online service offering advertising best practice, evidence and insights from the world’s leading brands.”

The “WARC 100” is an annual compendium of “the world’s 100 best campaigns and companies, based on their performance in effectiveness and strategy competitions”. In other words, the organization assigns value to award-winning ads via a not-quite secret methodology in order to determine which campaigns and agencies were “smartest.”


On to the results: Omnicom defeated WPP in the “smartest holding company in the world” category, so we eagerly await Sir Sorrell’s response.

You’re more interested in creative, though, so here’s the list.

And the winner is…

BBDO Colenso (New Zealand)!

The reason Colenso topped the list? It’s the only agency with three 2013 campaigns in the top 100. Here’s one of them, for Mountain Dew:

For context, the top American agency on the list is Ogilvy New York at #4. Ogilvy placed thanks to the Depend “great American try-on” campaign, itself a tribute to incontinence among those who’ve yet to achieve senior citizen status. While the video is no longer on YouTube, here’s a visual via the subsequent NYT write-up:


Others in the top 20 aren’t terribly surprising: BBDO NY, W+K Portland, Team Detroit, CP+B, Grey New York…

All top shops. Yet this list is really less about which agencies are “smart” than which ones are good at applying for awards.

Something tells us it will still provoke many unresolved arguments, though.

(Now please rate this stock photo of “anxious 26-year-old advertising creative” on a scale of 1 to “completely accurate, especially the hair.”)