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Australian Effort for Virgin Money Card Tops The Won Report

The Won Report, an analysis of the world's leading direct marketing awards shows, said a Virgin Money credit card campaign called “Plastic Surgery” from iLeo, Sydney, Australia, was the most honored effort last year.

Second to Virgin Money's effort was a campaign on behalf of Iraq's cultural treasures for UNESCO from Heye + Partner, Hamburg, Germany. In third place was a “Fatty Cigarettes” campaign for the British Heart Foundation from Euro RSCG, London.

“This was not a great year for creativity in DM,” said The Won Report author Patrick Collister from Kent, England. “Sure, there were some slick three-dimensional pieces, but too many pro bono and charity campaigns for comfort.

“While I bemoan the lack of big ideas and big campaigns, actually, the overall winner, 'Plastic Surgery' … is a worthy No. 1, being big in every sense and taking 3 percent of a mature credit card market within 10 months while also enhancing all those Virgin brand values we all know.”

The Won Report (www.wonreport.com) targets advertising industry analysts, observers and advertisers looking for indices to distinguish among different ad agency networks' work for clients.

Collister is founder/CEO of British creativity training and film company Creative Matters Ltd. He created and modeled The Won Report last year after The Gunn Report, an analysis of above-the-line awards shows focused on television and print media.

His report tracks agency wins at international awards such as the Direct Marketing Association's Echo, International Advertising Festival's Cannes Lions Direct and Cyber Lions, John Caples International Awards, Effies, The One Show, The Crestas, The New York Festivals, EPICA, Mobius and D&AD.

It also considers awards for each country, like Australia's ADMA, Britain's Campaign Direct and Spain's Premios Iman. Big awards shows from Latin America, Asia, Canada and New Zealand also make the cut as well as regional contests like Scandinavia's Black Knight.

About 1,400 awards — up from 1,000 in 2003 — were given to 374 agencies in 2004 at these shows, Collister said. Though this is lower than the number of awards given annually for brand advertising, DM's slice of the pie is growing as marketing budgets for below-the-line advertising increase.

Collister gives six points for a gold award at prestigious international shows like the Echo, Cannes Lions and Caples. Silver and bronze awards get five and four points, respectively. For national awards, he gives three points for gold, two for silver and one for bronze. “Plastic Surgery” snared 164 points, the UNESCO effort 75 and “Fatty Cigarettes” 72.

The three most awarded agencies worldwide by Collister's method are OgilvyOne Worldwide, Frankfurt, Germany, with 252 points; iLeo, Sydney, with 197; and Proximity, London, with 166.

The three most awarded agency brands worldwide are Proximity Worldwide, with 1,180 points; OgilvyOne, with 997; and Leo Burnett, with 380.

Many agencies won multiple awards on the back of one big idea. In the case of Happy Forsman & Bodenfors, Stockholm, it was for one client: Arctic Paper. But OgilvyOne's Frankfurt office was Collister's choice as the most creative DM agency worldwide. The agency won awards for 11 clients with 17 varying campaign pieces. The clients included American Express, SAP and IBM.

“While none of their work picked up any of the mega awards like the Grand Prix at Cannes or the Caples, they won plenty of silvers and golds, and I do mean plenty,” he said.

An analysis of winning campaigns shows that flat mailings — the bread-and-butter of most agencies — barely got considered. What works best in terms of awards, and ranking high on The Won Report, is the three-dimensional mail piece sent to a list of fewer than 1,000 names.

Heye + Partner's campaign for UNESCO illustrates this point. A list of wealthy business leaders was sent a leather-bound book titled “Iraq's Cultural Treasures.” Recipients who opened the book found all the pages ripped out. Copy on the inside back cover explained that the country's museums were looted and help was needed to track the missing artifacts.

This entry won awards at the Cannes Lions, Clios, Andy's, EPICA and The New York Festivals, among others.

Pro bono work still is a good way to bag awards. For example, Saatchi & Saatchi's work for British animal cruelty prevention organization NSPCC and London homeless charity St. Mungo's earned it 10th place in The Won Report's most awarded agency rankings.

Also, Digitas, Boston, took 16th place courtesy of a single piece, the Jazz Musicians Emergency Fund CD. And DEC Proximity, Barcelona, Spain, made the list with its “I Want to Work” effort for Fundacio Exit.

Overall, the United States, with 1,848 points, was the most awarded country. Britain followed with 1,489 points. Germany was third at 1,012.

“Spain set the pace last year,” Collister said, “but in 2004, I feel the Germans have been doing the most consistent work. The U.S. continues to show how integration can be achieved when you have the will and the budget to make it work. OgilvyOne New York sets the standard, with the American Express Superman/Seinfeld campaign boasting some great numbers as well as supporting the brand.

“Perhaps that is the one feature of 2004: Direct marketing can help build and sustain brands. The drive for short-term ROI need not be at the expense of longer-term brand values, and so we see American Express, IBM, Unilever and Procter & Gamble among those whose work has been rewarded in 2004.”

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