Agency of the Year: Editor's Letter
Let's get something straight: I didn't enter this business to make friends. I did it to influence people. And journalists do that by focusing on people who have the most influence on other people. That has been the spirit behind Media's Agency/Client of the Year awards: to acknowledge and profile the organizations - agencies, departments, and clients - that have had the most influence on the industry over the past year. You can argue with our picks, but please don't debate our logic. It is what it is. It's not a popularity contest. It's not a sales gimmick. It's not a way of kowtowing to our best sources.
Okay, so how do you measure influence? The main criteria we use are innovation, vision, and perhaps most important, leadership. Yes, some of these can be subjective for sure. So let me put it directly to you: When it comes to media agencies, which one would you most want to be like? Okay, other than your own agency, which one would you most want to be like? When I ask that question, more often than not, people say Starcom. Come on, be honest, you know it's true.
That's not to say other organizations haven't influenced the business or haven't demonstrated leadership. In fact, it's gotten harder each year to make our selections, and this year was excruciating. The margin of difference in the capabilities, resources, tools, and philosophical approaches of the major media agencies is very small. They each excel in important ways. MindShare has great people and wonderful systems. OMD does brilliant creative media. And Carat seems to have it all - great leadership, brilliant research systems, and it isn't afraid to be a change agent. Carat also had an impressive new business record - albeit one that at presstime was being challenged by Wal-Mart's "re-review." Those are all important qualities, and no doubt ones that will factor heavily in the annual agency awards of other publications, but in the end, it came down to which shop demonstrated the greatest leadership. And hands down, it was Starcom once again.
It was an uncomfortable decision, marking the fourth time in the four years we've been bestowing this award that we picked Starcom as best in class. Actually, to be fair, we picked Starcom MediaVest Group the first two years, and then beginning last year, we insisted the two sister shops compete independently. And the truth is if Starcom weren't a consideration, MediaVest likely would have been.
In the end, these were very close decisions, but by articulating specific examples of leadership - coming out a year ahead of the rest of the industry on TV commercial ratings and being willing to dig deep to support them; organizing a seamless video upfront; and reorganizing around the concept of activation - Starcom set itself apart.
We selected Crispin Porter + Bogusky as Media Department of the Year; Initiative's Entertainment and Innovation unit as Media Boutique of the Year; WPP's GroupM as Media Agency Holding Company of the Year; and Toyota as Media Client of the Year. Each in its own way led the industry in 2006 and inspired others to follow suit.