From Moscow to Mumbai, These Agencies Make Today’s Best Campaigns

Portraits of shops doing award-winning ads like 'Epic Split' and 'Dumb Ways to Die'

Stéphane Xiberras, president, photographed on the banks of the Seine by Emmanuel Fradin.

BETC

Paris

While this agency’s logo pays homage to the bee colony it tends atop its roof terrace—which happens to be some of the finest real estate in Paris, boasting a 360-degree view—the insect imagery also gives a nod to the creative chaos inside the shop that has brought such sweet results. “We like the idea of a hive with its hustle and bustle,” explains Stéphane Xiberras, president and executive creative director. “When you watch bees work, you have the impression it’s pure mayhem, but there’s a logic to it. With us, it’s exactly the same thing.” Launched 20 years ago as an offshoot of Euro RSCG, now Havas, BETC’s work became the stuff of global fascination. In 2009, Evian’s “Roller Babies” became the most downloaded commercial in the world. Last year, “The Bear,” a spot for Canal+, received more awards than any other commercial (including a Clio Award, which like Adweek is owned by affiliates of Guggenheim partners), while Evian’s “Baby & Me” was the year’s most viewed online campaign. After expanding to London and São Paulo, BETC now has the states in its sights, with plans to open a New York outpost next year.

 


Erik Sollenberg, CEO, and Anna Qvennerstedt, creative chairman, photographed in the archipelago of Gothenburg by Morten Koldby.

Forsman & Bodenfors

Gothenburg

In 1986, four guys started an ad agency in this Swedish industrial port, an unlikely location seeing as the country’s ad industry is centered in Stockholm. Since then, F&B has not only become Scandinavia’s best-known agency but has also developed a global reputation after winning 85 Cannes Lions, including its recent sweep for Volvo Trucks’ “Epic Split” starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. F&B was also named Independent Agency of the Year at this year’s festival. This, in addition to the shop last year taking home a total of four Clio Awards (three Silver and one Bronze). “Our initial objective was to challenge the establishment and try to compete with the best agencies in Stockholm,” says F&B’s CEO Erik Sollenberg. “That underdog mentality has been an important ingredient in our success. We’re still David against Goliath, since we now identify ourselves as a small independent agency from close to the North Pole that competes with the best agencies in the world.” In that battle, F&B, which has a second office in Stockholm, counts 120 staffers—a relatively modest head count considering its profile and awards, including four Clios, but also one that enables it to send as many creatives as possible to Cannes every year, not only senior management.


(L. to r.) Mark Taylor, Gary Tranter and Matt Cullen, ecds/co-founders; and Nick Marrett, CEO/co-founder, photographed at the Marina Bay Sands by Darren Soh.

Arcade

Singapore

Founded in 2010 by four former executives at large agency networks, this Singapore shop set out to create a smaller, more nimble, free-flowing business model that has since expanded to Shanghai, Tokyo and Jakarta. “We wanted to remove departmentalization by media and put the focus firmly back on storytelling and sparking lively conversation,” says CEO and founding partner Nick Marrett. “This fosters a new breed of creative mind, one that is media-agnostic and thinks across all channels, even invents new ones.” Despite its entrepreneurial underpinnings, Arcade shares the global ambitions of its Asian clients, creating work that travels not just through the region but also around the globe. Arcade launched Unilever’s Clear shampoo in North America; created the first Android concept store in the world in Indonesia, which has become the blueprint for a global retail rollout; and introduced beauty brand Motions in South Africa. It all caught the attention of Publicis Worldwide, which acquired a stake in August.