The Stoppies 2018: Group of Humans of the Year - Special Group

Earlier this year, StopPress gathered the industry for an evening of self-congratulation as we celebrated the work that made 2018 so great, as well as the moments that got lips moving. Winners across the 16 categories were chosen by the editorial team who — along with the application of very sophisticated algorithms, immersive VR experience, AI chatbots — discussed and debated the results. Now, we revisit some of those winners for a behind-the-scenes look at why they are successful.

By StopPress Team | May 6, 2019 | awards

They kicked off 2018 by being named Campaign Brief New Zealand Agency of the Year and from there the momentum continued throughout. While 2018 was Special Group’s tenth year in business, it passed without a slump in sight, just more awards, new clients and hires and, finally, the year ended with the biggest high of them all: the coveted Stoppies Group of Humans doorstop trophy.

Managing partner and founder, Michael Redwood, looks back at the year that was.

Highlights of 2018

2018 was a year of many highlights really.

In January, Special was crowned Campaign Brief Agency of the Year – the first time ever for an independent agency. This came hot on the heels of Campaign Asia naming us Mobile Agency of the Year for Australia New Zealand, and our #1 Independent agency ranking in the APAC Effie Index.

Then followed a remarkable year of new business wins and some great work, capped off when we were named New Zealand’s Most Innovative Marketing/Media company by Idealog. To top it all we celebrated our tenth birthday by inviting the industry to our place for a drink on us.

Challenges of 2018?

It was a year of new business with twelve significant new clients coming on board – on average one new business win per month. A hugely positive and exciting time... but also challenging to manage this growth while ensuring our existing clients were looked after as always. In the end we

finished the year with some great, highly effective work for our longstanding clients and no business losses.

What will we see from Special Group in the next 12 months? 

We have some great design and creative work in the pipeline that we’re super-excited about rolling out. We’ll also keep pushing the boundaries of how a creative company can solve business problems for its clients, with innovation in communications, customer experience and new product development. And continue to innovate with our business model and how we partner with our clients.

How many hires in 2018? 

In 2018 we significantly strengthened our line-up across the board. Rory Gallery joined as head of strategy and has made a major impact with our clients and on our business. We’ve bolstered our creative department with the addition of two new teams. And added some digital and social media management firepower. Underpinning this we’ve also recruited some great young talent to our account service team. 

How many client wins? 

Around a dozen new clients came on board throughout 2018. These included Douglas Pharmaceuticals, Auckland International Airport, Dubai Expo 2020, Tourism New Zealand, Education New Zealand, Technomancy, New Zealand Rugby and Partridge Jewellers. Outstanding clients with ambitious plans.

How many champagne bottles were popped? 

Quite a few as there was a bit to celebrate in 2018. But the drink we enjoyed most of all was the commemorative beer we created to mark our tenth birthday — ‘Special X’. It was very satisfying to share a few cold ones with clients, industry friends and team members and reflect on an amazing ten years in business.

How many awards were won? 

It was a great awards year, bookended by being named Campaign Brief Agency of the Year in January, and Idealog’s Most Innovative Marketing / Media Company in December. A very satisfying result in our tenth year.

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