Over 500 advertising and marketing folk descended on the Langham last night for the final and, some might argue, most important event on the awards calendar.
The Effie Awards are so highly coveted because the judging process places enormous emphasis on the business results achieved by creative ideas. Winning the big awards is notoriously difficult, and this was again reiterated this year with only seven gold gongs being handed out over the course of proceedings.
The theme for last night’s event was ‘Showcase your science,’ which was quite serendipitous given the major winner necessitated a hefty dose of actual chemistry to come to fruition.
In a tightly contested battle for the Grand Effie, DB Breweries’ ‘Brewtroleum’ campaign came away as the overall winner.
Colenso BBDO managing director Scott Coldham says the entire team at College hill is very proud of what the agency achieved last night.
“We spend our entire working lives championing the role creativity can play in driving commercial outcomes for our clients and to receive the accolades we did last night is really rewarding,” Coldham says.
“We’re so fortunate to have a group of client partners who share our belief, demand great work - and contribute to our culture, enabling the work and the outcomes we deliver.”
In addition to the Grand Effie, Brewtroleum also nabbed two gold, one silver and two bronze awards.
“Brewtroleum was a really strong idea,” said guest international judge Merry Basking from Baskin Shark in the UK. “[It was] an out-of-the-boundary piece of creative work that has become globally famous. In a declining category and a changing market, this campaign managed to turn sales and they even got another company to come on board and help with this task.”
It was also a very bold, somewhat insane idea, which in turn led to the declaration of DB Breweries as the 'Bravest Client' of the year.
Upon taking to stage, DB marketing director Sean O’Donnell turned the attention to Gull, saying the idea would not have been realised had it not been for the willingness of the team at the petrol station to collaborate on the project.
And chatting to StopPress today, O'Donnell again reiterated the importance of collaboration in this project.
"I’m incredibly so proud of the collective hard work which went into making this a success," he said. "Special mention to Colenso BBDO, Proximity, SparkPHD and Union Digital. Of course a huge thank you to our partner Gull NZ, they were fantastic throughout the whole process and instrumental in bringing the campaign to life.
"DB Export Brewtroleum is the campaign which just keeps on giving. A New Zealand success story which has changed the perception of what can be achieved for a marketing campaign. It has had a number of high profile award wins, both within New Zealand and across the globe. However we are absolutely overwhelmed to have picked up so many coveted Effies, and of course the Grand Effie. These accolades truly encompass our overarching 'Made By Doing' credentials and turned DB Export into the fastest-growing beer brand in 2015."
Brewtroleum may have came out on top on the night, but it was far from a forgone conclusion, with the Heart Foundation’s ‘Heart Attack Act’ campaign providing some stiff competition.
Merry told the crowd that extensive debate between the judges led to ‘Brewtroleum’ winning by the thinnest of margins.
The race was so tight, in fact, that the panel took the unusual step of presenting the Heart Foundation and Barnes, Catmur & Friends Dentsu with a highly commended award in the Grand Effie category.
Despite losing out on the Grand Effie, there were no complaints from the Barnes Catmur & Friends Dentsu table, which had plenty to celebrate, having won golds in the ‘charity/not for profit,’ 'limited budget' and ‘most effective strategic thinking’ categories.
“I know it’s a bit old fashioned, but everything we produce at the agency is designed solely to work, not to chase creative awards,” Catmur told StopPress today.
“It’s not always easy to prove efficacy when so many other factors are present, but to produce a campaign for which there is concrete evidence that lives were saved is hugely rewarding. Thanks to the wonderful guys at the Heart Foundation for buying into the idea, and for the many people at the agency, and at Fish who worked so hard to hone the campaign to be as effective as it was.”
Catmur also gave a tip of the hat to the teams at Colenso and DB, acknowledging that he was a fan of their campaign.
“Congratulations to Colenso and DB Breweries for their wins, too. I haven’t seen the Brewtroleum entry, but I loved the campaign and I thought it was classy to acknowledge the crucial part that Gull played in it. That said, I’m still not putting it in my car.”
The only other two campaigns to have won gold awards in the category section were ‘Do you care enough to be a cop?’ by Ogilvy & Mather for NZ Police, and ‘Fashion as it should be’ for Ziera by 99.
The Ogilvy campaign also got the attention of the judges presiding over the executive judge category, with the campaign picking up the highly coveted ‘hardest challenge’ award.
“The winning work was both authentic and powerfully moving, which was key to its successful response,” Baskin said.
The campaign also achieved the difficult task of helping to shift the perception of police from simply being enforcers to individuals interested in helping those in need.
All about the clients
This year’s edition of the Effies also marked in shift in emphasis from agencies to clients—something clearly indicated by the fact that clients were listed before agencies on the screens displaying the names of winners.
The winning agencies embraced this shift by handing over the lectern to clients to chat about their campaigns.
This year also marked the arrival of new client-focused award, with the Effies awarding a Marketer of the Year for the first time.
CAANZ chief executive Paul Head took to stage to announce the winner, and he spoke of the important role that clients play in ensuring that the best work comes to life.
He pointed to the fact that marketers are often the ones wrangling the budgets and showing the bravery to sign-off on the big ideas presented by agencies.
And there is perhaps no one more emblematic of client bravery than the marketer who completely changed what we’ve come to expect of safety videos: Air New Zealand’s Jodie Williams.
As she took to stage, there was no partisan clapping from selected tables. The entire room applauded in unison, celebrating the brilliant contribution of Williams to the industry.
And now, with all the awards handed out and the email signatures updated, it's back to the drawing board for another year.
Here's the full list of all the winners: