Axis 2016: Saatchi, Colenso and Y&R win the night with integrated creativity

Yesterday, across the industry, lint brushes ran over polka dot dinner jackets, dresses were taken out of their protective plastic covers and the nation’s resources of hair wax were unsustainably diminished as the denizens of adland readied themselves for one of the biggest nights in advertising, the Axis Awards. 

A total of around 800 people descended on the Viaduct, all in hope of claiming a share of the four grand prix and 21 gold Axis awards up for grabs on the night.

South African-born comedian Urzila Carlson had the unenviable task of trying to keep the attention of the bustling crowd. And while it wasn’t always easy, she did deliver a few great laughs (her safety briefing, in which she threatened to climb over the backs of anyone in her way, was hilarious).

Of all the trophies, none is more coveted than the Grand Axis, which is awarded for the single best piece of work of the night. 

And while the Axis audience largely lived up to its reputation of ignoring the presenters on stage for large swathes of the night, they did settle down (after numerous requests) when CAANZ chief executive Paul Head took to stage to present the Grand Axis. 

This year, the major gong was taken by Saatchi & Saatchi for its ‘Clever Kash’ campaign developed for ASB. 

Shane Evans, ASB’s general manager of marketing said: “It has been a great experience bringing the Clever Kash concept to life with our partners at Saatchi & Saatchi. Together, we’ve taken a compelling idea and developed it into a physical product aimed at encouraging positive financial habits in children.”

And joint executive creative director Corey Chalmers mirrored these sentiments, saying: “Clever Kash is a real product, solving a real world problem for ASB’s customers. This is an exciting new world for us to be playing in, but it can’t be done without an incredible collaboration built on trust, respect and a genuine passion to make a difference.”

In the lead up to presenting the award, Head spoke of the significant change taking place in the industry and that the judging panel felt it necessary to commend a piece of work that was reflective of where advertising was headed. 

Perhaps most illustrative of the shift in the industry was the fact that there were only five entries this year in the shorter than 30-second TVC category, leaving little doubt that creatives are increasingly looking for different ways to reach consumers.   

Clever Kash enjoyed a fruitful evening all the way through proceedings, also picking up a Grand Prix in the Digital & Interactive category and a further five golds.

Saatchi & Saatchi would not have been able to get an idea of a digital elephant across the line had it not been for the bravery of ASB. And for its willingness to embrace creativity, the bank picked up the Client of the Year award. 
There were only three other Grand Prix handed out. Y&R NZ claimed one for Burger King’s ‘McWhopper’ campaign, while Colenso BBDO nabbed the other two for Volkswagen’s Reduce Speed Dial and DB Breweries’ ‘Brewtroleum’.

“The work that stood out this year, including Clever Kash, McWhopper and Brewtroleum all signal and reflect a significant change in our industry as our clients demand ever more innovative ways to connect with consumers,” said Head.

In addition to its Grand Prix, Y&R’s McWhopper campaign also won four golds across a range of categories.

For accumulating the biggest tally of awards and finalist slots for this year’s event (including five golds), Colenso BBDO was pronounced the Creative Agency of the Year.

“Winning Agency of the Year last night was hugely rewarding,” says Colenso general manager Scott Coldham. “For our people who put so much into making a difference, for our clients – with whom we’ve worked hard to create an environment in which we can do brilliant work and in the company of the entire industry’s diverse body of work – it’s great to come out on top.”

There was either a digital or integrated flavour to many of Colenso’s wins over, with campaigns like Pedigree’s Found app, VW’s Speed Dial, DB Breweries’ Brewtroleum picking up a host of awards during proceedings.

“We’re adapting to the ever-changing nature of what it means to connect brands to their consumers and the type of work we do will continue to evolve accordingly,” Coldham says.

Colenso had been well set up to land this accolade from the beginning of the evening having started off with 85 finalists spots, well above FCB’s 58 and DDB’s 33. 

Other big winners included Special Group with their work for 2degrees, ‘Play the Bridge’, DDB with three golds, one in Craft for Fargo Woollens for Sky Television, a gold in Promo & Activation for ‘Reverse Aprils Fools’ for BMW and gold in Outdoor for The Unforgotten Soldiers again for Sky Television.

For the fifth year in a row, the Production Company of the Year was the Sweet Shop, which picked up a gold for Air New Zealand’s ‘Men in Black Safety Defenders’ video, seven silvers and four bronzes.

Finch also won a gold for its spine-chilling video for the University of Western Sydney, while Assembly picked one up for its elaborate animated spot for PWC’s ‘extraordinary challenges’ campaign.

As is always the case at the Axis Awards, there was clear reverence for the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award. And as Saatchi & Saatchi legend, Assignment Group founder and Lewis Road Creamery dairy don (the list goes on) Peter Cullinane made his way to collect the gong, the entire audience gave him a standing ovation. 

Taking to the stage, a clearly moved Cullinane spoke of his love for the industry and made the remark that the success of his dairy business is simply attributable to doing exactly what he has always told his clients they should be doing with their businesses.

But it wasn’t only about the old guard. The awards night also gave a nod to young talent, with the panel awarding the Emerging Talent Axis to Katyana O’Neill and Renee Bryant from Barnes Catmur and Friends Dentsu.

And the Axis Student Challenge Award went to Deborah Chae and Kieran Buchan from AUT for their campaign for Lightbox.

After doing some classic dad dancing to the tunes of the live band at the venue, agency folk headed to the numerous after parties across the town. Suffice to say there were quite a few empty seats at the agency offices today.  

  • See more photos from the night here.
  • See the full list of winners here:

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