Effies 2017: FCB basks in golden glow, owns the night with Mercury

Last night, Auckland’s Langham Hotel was taken over by advertising and marketing folk eager to celebrate the country’s most effective marketing campaigns at the 2017 NZ Effie Awards.

Near 200 entries had been whittled down to 100 finalists before the best of the best were invited to the stage to bask in bronze, silver and gold.

And with Winston Peter’s government announcement coming in just as the night was kicking off, host Te Radar did a careful job to ensure the importance of the night was not stolen, however, he did take plenty of opportunities to slip in a political joke.

The Effie Awards are highly coveted as winning metal is about meeting a challenge and succeeding, and this time around as Louise Bond, CEO of PHD Group and president of CAANZ, took to the stage to welcome attendants, she explained the emphasis that had been placed on campaigns that have gone beyond short-term returns to create lasting change for the organisation. It was a similar sentiment to that of international judge Chris Baker who made appearances, via a screen, throughout the night to explain why the gold-winning work was so deserving.

Prior to the awards he spoke to StopPress and reflecting on the work he’d seen while judging, said there’s lots of great ideas, great thinking, and great insight.

Adding extra significance to the night was its theme, ‘You can’t argue with that’, a reference to the fact that an Effie is recognised globally by advertisers and agencies as the industry’s pre-eminent award, representing the pinnacle in advertising effectiveness.

And there was a lot of that on show as 18 gold gongs were handed out compared to last year’s seven. It made for a lot of celebrating throughout the ceremony and the room was buzzing with excitement when it came time for the Grand Effie winner to be announced.

The battle was taken out by Mercury and FCB New Zealand for ‘Energy Made Wonderful’.

Nick Baylis, one of this year’s executive judges, said the Grand Effie picked itself.

“An insightful strategy that led to bold, single-minded creative that humanised electricity. The campaign’s influence from churn reduction to share price stacked up in what is undoubtedly one of the hardest categories to generate consumer engagement – effectiveness made wonderful.”

Mercury’s chief marketing officer, Julia Jack, also made reference to the company’s commitment to renewable energy as she accepted the award with her team and agency partners. She also took the time to thank everyone involved on the Mercury side as well as FCB for being awesome partners.

Throughout the night, ‘Energy Made Wonderful’ picked up three golds, contributing to FCB’s 12 golds across the night.

With that haul, it was no surprise Te Radar called FCB when announcing the Most Effective Agency of the Year. Upon taking to the stage Murray Streets, general manager of business innovation and strategy at FCB, shared a few words about the importance of the awards and what they mean for the wider industry.

“Thank you, it is a heroic choice,” he said to all those who entered. “We do these things over and above the day job and BAU and you showed guts and determination to demonstrate the value of the work the industry does and that’s great for all of us.”

He then commented on how proud he was to be part of FCB and suggested there’s more greatness to come from the agency as campaigns going into development now will be generating results for clients and winning awards next year.


Across the night, FCB also took to the stage to pick up a gold for the ‘Nudging Towards a New Normal’ campaign with Maritime NZ and three golds for the ‘Go Balls Out’ campaign for Testicular Cancer New Zealand. The social campaign challenged New Zealanders to get out on the streets, walk or run in the shape of a giant penis and testicles, share it on social media and challenge a friend to do the same.

Though plenty of humor was found in listening to Baker throw around the words “cock” and “balls” as he acknowledged the win, the campaign packed a powerful message for men to go get checked out and fittingly as FCB and Testicular Cancer New Zealand accepted the award, their speech finished with: “Go check your balls tonight.”

Today, following its gold wins, Streets told StopPress the agency is thrilled at the recognition from the judges for the breadth and depth of work across its clients. 

“We’re particularly proud of the outcome with this year’s emphasis on long-term results. A huge thank you to our clients for committing to making the case for effectiveness on their work.”

The big winner from the campaigns last night was ‘Escape My House’ for Fire and Emergency New Zealand. The virtual reality campaign put users in a burning house to encourage them to make an escape plan and for its impact, it won five golds.

Again it was no surprise Fire and Emergency New Zealand was then named Most Effective Client of the Year. Accepting the award, they acknowledged the hours of work FCB had put in. They also said that for all the money and time that goes into education, if they can save one life, it’s all worth it.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

It was a big night for the Fire and Emergency New Zealand team as it also won the Innovation in Media, Marketing and Communications Award at the New Zealand Innovation Awards, also held last night.

Between the cheers from FCB’s side of the room, there were other clients and agencies that deserved their time to bask in the golden glow. DDB was one of those as its work with Lion, ‘Tokyo Dry. The Other Side of Steinlager’ took gold in Best Strategic Thinking category. It was also selected by the judges as the winner of the Hardest Challenge.

Lion’s national marketing director, Craig Baldie, then won the Individual Marketer of the Year Award. The award recognises a marketing client who led their agencies in the marketing of a brand that has clearly excelled in the last 12 months and beyond – someone who really understood their business issues, had clear objectives and inspired their agencies to even greater heights over the longer term.

After receiving the award, Baldie acknowledged his team, saying had it not been for them, he would not have received the award. He said they, and DDB, are “borderline obsessed” with achieving better and better results.

Craig Baldie

About Baldie’s win, Comms Council CEO Paul Head said it was a very difficult decision.

“The finalists are all brilliant marketers and have great relationships with their agencies, driving awesome, engaging work. In the end, the judges chose the person they felt had driven continuous innovation in the category and led work across a portfolio of long-established brands and declining category demand,” he said.

“This marketer’s current campaigns are built upon creative platforms that endure; brand platforms borne out of real insight into the consumer relationship and belief in the power of creativity to unlock this magic.”

Also getting up to take gold was Saatchi & Saatchi and Amplifon – Bay Audiology, as they picked up three golds for the ‘The Emotional Hearing Test’ campaign.

Colenso BBDO, last year’s Most Effective Agency, also saw gold for its campaign ‘Beer Bottle Sand’ with DB Breweries, last year’s Most Effective Client, and ‘Child Replacement Programme’ with Mars NZ.

Meanwhile, Special Group and 2degrees quietly had a good night, regularly taking to the stage to claim six silvers for the ‘Data Hunt’ campaign.

With all of the awards now handed-out and industry folk no-doubt taking an extra long weekend to recover from the festivities, it’s time for drawing boards to be cleared for the start of another year of work.

Here’s the full list of all the winners:

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