For the sixth time in the six years Media magazine has been selecting an agency of the year, we have chosen all or some part of Starcom MediaVest Group. This year, we picked MediaVest, but I must confess that the decision was especially tough, because the next strongest contender was also so good. That contender was Starcom.
Economists gave the nation a lump of coal this holiday season. They declared the country formally in a recession, and said it had been in one since December of 2007. Many of us had already figured this out for ourselves, of course, but MediaVest USA was characteristically ahead of everybody else.
In 2007, Media selected Goodby, Silverstein & Partners as its "Media Department of the Year," largely because it had obliterated its media department - fusing it with its account planning team to create a new "strategy department" that could well be the model for the future of agency media services. We've selected the agency for the second year in a row because it was able to demonstrate the fruits of that strategy in a way that will likely convince others to follow suit.
For an industry whose fundamentals are based on the perpetual notion of "new and improved," it makes sense that Madison Avenue is constantly reinventing the way it sells its services. Occasionally, it even reinvents the services it provides.
A political campaign is a long, hard slog. For the media team, it's an endurance test of creative strategy. The Barack Obama presidential campaign innovated at every twist and turn, fully realizing the potential of the social media and Internet strategies of Howard Dean's ill-fated 2004 bid, using search in smart and effective ways, and making big waves in traditional media - right down to the final stretch.
It changed everything. In less than five months, the Apple App Store served more than 300 million downloads and broke all the existing rules for mobile media and ad delivery. The carrier's garden walls were clipped to the ground.
For seemingly contradictory reasons, we've selected WPP's GroupM and Publicis' VivaKi in a tie. Both achieved best-in-class momentum in strategic vision, innovation and industry leadership - and they managed it while moving in what appear to be opposite directions.