Last night's Axis Awards, hosted by Newstalk ZB's Andrew Dickens at the Viaduct events centre, delivered a plush showcase of the country's best creative talent for the 34th year in a row. The theme for this year's edition was 'share the love,' and this was certainly a sentiment that all 800 people in attendance embraced as smiles around the room were as ubiquitous as celebratory drinks.
Although the majority of the agencies at the event were based in Auckland, it was Wellington-based Clemenger BBDO (which recently featured on the front cover of NZ Marketing Magazine) that once again illustrated why the nation's capital is often referred to as the creative epicentre.
For its work on 'Blazed' for the New Zealand Transport Agency, Clemenger was awarded the coveted Grand Axis, an award celebrating the finest, single piece of work for the year. When executive judge Duan Evans, from AKQA London, introduced 'Blazed' as the winner, he commended the work not only for its flawless creative execution but also for its ability to inspire social change. Evans then also gave humorous personal account of how the TVC had made him reflect on some of the decisions he had made earlier in his life.
Clemenger's Grand Axis will sit alongside a Grand Prix won for Screen Content and a further four gold Axis awards (three in the Screen Content category and one in Craft for copywriting).
In addition to these awards, 'Blazed' also won a Grand Prix in Craft Direction for Curious Film, which also won a gold and two silvers in the Direction category.
Another big winner on the night was NZI's 'Devil's Chair,' which resulted in a Craft Grand Prix in the Animation/Design/Visual Effects category as well as two gold awards for Assembly. DraftFCB also walked away with a gold award in the 'TV Single Commercial Above 30 Seconds' category for its work on the campaign.
The executive judging panel – comprised by Evans, Darren Spiller from DDB Melbourne and Mark Taylor previously of Crispin Porter in the USA – felt both 'Blazed' and DraftFCB's 'Devil’s Chair' were faultless examples of their respective crafts, which made it impossible for them to elevate one and they therefore agreed to award both a Craft Grand Prix in recognition of this.
While both Clemenger and DraftFCB enjoyed successful nights, the most well-awarded agency of the evening was Colenso BBDO/Proximity. In addition to winning a Grand Prix in the out-of-home category for its Samsung Smartphone Line and a total of seven gold awards during the night, Colenso also picked up the Creative Agency of the Year award, which is handed to the agency that has accumulated the most points determined by the number of nominations and awards received on the night.
Each of the four times it was announced that Saatchi & Saatchi's 'beer plumber' spot for Tui had won gold, the crowd responded with a loud cheer—which could either be attributed to the creative brilliance of the campaign or to the fact that there was no shortage of the amber drink on offer at the event.
DDB's major success came in the 'Print' and 'Magazine' categories, where its 'Be the artist, not the canvas' campaign for Steinlager won gold awards in each category, as well as four silvers in the print category.
Of all the winners to make their way to the stage during the evening, only DDB's Sandy Moore, the winner of the lifetime achievement award for his service to the industry, was given a standing ovation. When Moore took to the stage, he explained that he had not expected to win the award in the slightest and, since he had been told he would be presenting the award, he had prepared a commemorative speech in honour of the supposed winner.
He then spoke glowingly of the industry he had dedicated so much of his life to, and also commented on the importance of being nice. And given the warm congratulatory reception that he received after the show, this is clearly an attribute that many in the industry associate with Moore.
But the night wasn't only about the ad agencies. It was also an evening of celebration for the production companies and clients, which make it possible for creative ideas to come to life.
Last night, The Sweet shop celebrated a hat trick of wins as it was named the Production Company of the Year for the third consecutive time and Lion was named the Creative Business of the Year.
Although such events are usually dominated by the industry veterans, there was also some time set aside to acknowledge the younger contributors.
Kevin Walker and Melina Fiolitakis from DraftFCB won the Emerging Talent Axis award, as acknowledgement for their work on the gold-winning UNICEF 'Food photo saves lives' campaign and the double-silver-winning Sony Walkman PR stunt.
And it seems that there's no shortage of talent coming through the ranks, as TVNZ’s Axis Student Challenge Award went to Sam Pascoe and Hannah King from Media Design School for their campaign titled 'Share the drama – Coke'.
As usual the major agencies dominated proceedings for much of the evening, but a few independents also found themselves among the winners.
Young and Shand won a silver for its work on TVNZ's 'Dating the Dead' campaign, while Barnes, Catmur & Friends won a bronze for its 'Join the family' campaign for Boundary Road Brewery and silvers for its 'Hell Pizza Letter' in the print and print newspaper categories.
Given that preparing awards entries isn't a cheap exercise, many of the smaller agencies don't find it a worthwhile investment to enter their work for consideration. And this makes it all the more meaningful when indies do manage to punch above their weight and walk away with a few trophies under their arms.
- See the complete list of winners here.