Axis 2017: Clemenger BBDO takes Grand Axis, Colenso declared agency of the year

Axis crowds aren’t exactly known for observing in silence, opting instead for a rowdier approach to event attendance. However, last night, early in his first performance as master of ceremonies, Brendan Lovegrove turned the volume of the room right down when he delivered a joke about impregnating one of the faux bar servers standing on the stage alongside him.      

You could almost feel the weight of the uniform cringe across the room as the words spilled out of Lovegrove’s mouth.

At a time when the nation’s women are assembling against rape culture and when the gender debate in advertising is far from over, the joke was tone-deaf to say the least.

Thankfully, things improved drastically when convenor of judges Regan Grafton (ECD at Ogilvy) took to stage to present a short speech about why “winning at your local” feels so good.   

Grafton’s charm and eloquence shone through as he spoke, and the mood of the crowd lifted with each anecdote shared. His speech served to contextualise the theme the CAANZ events team painstakingly developed, and gave the evening the start it actually deserved. Thereafter, Lovegrove also picked up a bit of momentum and even stopped presenting at one stage to participate in a skulling challenge. 

From the early stages of proceedings, a winning trend took shape that would come to define this year’s edition of the event.

The first Grand Prix of the night was awarded for Clemenger BBDO’s ‘Concious Crossing’ campaign for KiwiRail, and the campaign would then go on to win a second Grand Prix, eight golds and the coveted Grand Axis.

The judges commended the campaign for going beyond the standard remit advertising usually occupies.  

“The Conscious Crossing goes further than a mere ad ever could,” they said. “It forces consumers to change their behaviour at the moment when it’s most important—which is precisely what every ad we do is aiming for and so often missing. It’s a perfect example of an ad agency solving the client’s problem, not just the client’s brief.”

Clemenger BBDO executive creative director Brigid Alkema says she is particularly proud of the campaign because it shows the potential of creativity to drive change. 

“Conscious Crossing came out of a small brief with a small budget for Rail Safety Week,” she says. “Rather than just raise awareness of safety at crossings that do not have warning signals, we collectively decided to try and solve the issue of safety at these crossings. We’re super proud of it and believe in its potential. It proves what a bunch of curious creative problem solvers and smart, brave clients can achieve.”

While the Conscious Crossing won the lion’s share of Clemenger’s hefty bounty, the agency also celebrated a double gold for NZTA’s ‘Hello’ campaign (one of these went to Curious Film for direction).

Clemenger, of course, wasn’t the only agency with reason to celebrate. Special Group also had a strong night, winning a Grand Prix and two golds for its work with Karma Cola, as well as golds for 2Degrees’s ‘Data Hunt’ and the Molenberg Sandwich shop.

The significant hauls of Clemenger BBDO and Special Group were, however, not enough to stop Colenso BBDO from being declared Creative Agency of the Year Award for the second consecutive year.

As is always the case, the Creative Agency of the Year Award is determined through a points system based on the number of awards won and finalists spots achieved. And with a tally of 36 finalists, 32 bronzes, 15 silvers and 4 golds, no agency could catch Colenso.

Upon taking to stage to accept the award, Colenso BBDO managing director Scott Coldham admitted to being surprised by the win and gave a credit to the team at Clemenger for their excellent night.

Two of Colenso’s golds were won for Anchor’s ‘X-Ray cast’, while the other pair were won for the V Pure product design and the digital animation in Mars Pedigree’s ‘A Dog Story’ app (won with Watermark).

The Colenso team also had more to celebrate as Mars was claimed the title of Creative Client of the Year, while industry stalwart Jen Storey was honoured with the lifetime achievement award.

Storey stayed true to her reputation of being a touch laconic, delivering what must’ve been one of the shortest speeches in Axis history.

As has come to be customary at Axis, The Sweet Shop again collected the Production Company of the Year Award, making it six in a row for the team.

This continued dominance isn’t altogether surprising looking at some of the work that the production company has been involved with over the last year. Included among its gold awards are DDB’s ‘Mum’s Wish’ ad for NZ Lotteries and ‘Health Is’ for HCF.

On the topic of sharp cinematography, DDB’s ‘Welcome to the Other Side’ campaign for the launch of Steinlager’s Tokyo Dry also had a good night, winning two golds.  

Other standout campaigns of the night were Ogilvy & Mather’s ‘Do you care enough to be a cop’ campaign for NZ Police (two golds) and A Kauri Cries for Auckland City Council.

And FCB also reminded the audience that there’s still room for innovation in print by picking up a gold for its ‘Made from Remains’ campaign for the NZ Fire Service (FCB also won a gold for it’s Vodafone campaign featuring Mad Mike).

TBWA also joined the party, picking up a gold for its work on the ‘Unexpected Homeless‘ campaign for the Salvation Army.

No awards show would be complete without a nod to the future. And looking at the growing portfolios of the Emerging Talent winners Emily Osborne and Henry Wall and the creative potential in Student Axis winners Nathaniel Ong and Lauren Day, the future is certainly in safe hands. Don’t be surprised if their names appear again at Axis in the future.

And so, another year of briefs, deadlines and creative slog are condensed into one epic hangover hanging across the industry today. But as bad as this feel right now, it won’t stop the adfolk from heading down to their local same time next year.   

Here’s the full list of winners:

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