Colenso BBDO takes top prize at Asia Pacific Effies, continues quest for more global work

Just a few weeks after being named agency of the year at Axis, Colenso BBDO has picked up another agency of the year accolade, this time at the inaugural Asia Pacific Effie Awards. 

Colenso had ten finalists, which as Colenso BBDO managing director Nick Garrett points out, was more than that of the total Ogilvy network across the region. On the night BNZ won silver for ‘Work ‘til you Die’ in the Financial Products and Services/New Product or Service category, Amnesty International picked up a silver for ‘Trial by Timeline’ in Other Products and Services/Small Budget category and Tip Top ‘Feel Tip Top’ and Mountain Dew ‘Beyond the Wall’ took bronze in the Food/Asia Pacific brands category and Food/Media Innovation category respectively. 

  • Check out all the winners here

“I am thrilled for our clients and the agency team,” says Garrett. “It is an honour to be amongst so much great work and further proof that the best work works the best.”

Andy McLeish, head of planning at Colenso, believes the success of campaigns developed in New Zealand signal an opportunity for locally-based creative companies.

“These awards, many for the same pieces of work, are great evidence of creativity driving outstanding business results. We’d love New Zealand agencies to be net exporters of creative ideas around the region, and this sort of recognition can only help us with that.”

Barnes Catmur & Friends were the only New Zealand agency to win gold for Hell’s Pizza Roulette campaign in Retail. It also picked up bronze in Beverages for Boundary Road Brewery’s The Resident, which made it the second most awarded Kiwi agency. 

Rounding out the Kiwi winners, DraftFCB took a silver in Retail for Mitre 10’s Easy As and M&C Saatchi took a bronze in Government/Institutional for Increasing the Diversity of the Police. 

While some may question the worth of yet another awards programme, Garrett says winning gongs like these certainly helps enhance the agency’s global profile and one of his and creative chairman Nick Worthington’s main goals is for Colenso BBDO to do more international work. He says that’s happening, with global projects on the go for Mountain Dew, Pepsi and Pedigree, often alongside other agencies in the BBDO network.

“The volume of global work we’re doing has grown by about four times, both for existing clients and new clients.” 

When we interviewed the pair for a feature in NZ Marketing last year, Garrett said it is increasingly selling its ideas overseas and being sought out for international work. In a previous role, he worked in the entertainment industry, and he says the ‘one success for every nine failures’ formula was often abided by. In advertising, he says it’s basically the opposite. But Colenso is trying to “flip that model on its head”. 

“In the first business lunch I had with Nick and James [Hurman, who recently departed his role as managing director at Y&R] we said we wanted to change the way we make money and get paid for our thinking,” says Garrett. “Execution is important, but it is somewhat commoditised in terms of price. So we’re creating a model where we’re charging a fair market price for thinking and we’re very protective of our IP. And it’s not just advertising IP, it may be technology and products.” 

As a result of this philosophy, it’s rewritten all the contracts with its existing clients and each new client has an IP clause about shared ownership outside of advertising and outside of New Zealand. 

“It’s different by client and totally collaborative, but you can do great thinking in New Zealand that can be used overseas for brands of the same category that are non-competing,” Garrett says. “And clients are excited by this, because we’re sharing in success.” 

At the time, Garrett estimated upwards of ten percent of its profit in 2013 was expected to come from licensing IP overseas. And “it’s growing quickly and it will be significant”. 

“Where the IP area has worked well for us is when there’s mutual respect and a recognition that we will both be rewarded for success,” he said (for example, the sale of Westpac’s Impulse Saver app into other markets saw the proceeds split three ways). 

Worthington believes it’s limiting for Kiwi businesses to think only of the New Zealand market—and also limiting to think a creative agency is only able to influence the advertising.

 “You’ve got to recognise we are part of a global marketplace,” he says. “Even the tiniest New Zealand start-ups need to sell their stuff overseas, and we’re also working for brands with global footprints. So they’re looking for the same solutions all over the world. It’s crazy to think region by region. Ideas don’t work like that these days. Ideas spread super fast. So why can’t we do it from here?” 

Patch protection is one major reason. But going back to Worthington’s days at Publicis Mojo, he says the agency really took off when it started doing work for Diet Coke and Powerade globally. Some would argue that global brands know exactly how advertising egos work, so they aim to get plenty of effort for not much outlay by approaching smaller, overseas agencies. But as Worthington says, the game—and the money—completely changes when it’s global. 

“There was one instance when one little project we did internationally for Coke made more money than we made for the entire year on the regular business. And while it’s brilliant having people ringing you up from overseas, it can be distracting if it’s not your core purpose. But it’s not a distraction for us. We recognise we don’t live in a bubble.” 

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