FCB Media dominates the Beacons

During a recent interview for NZ Marketing, FCB’s head of planning David Thomason recounted a short anecdote about the agency’s consistency at the Beacon Awards:

“We were at a media awards event and it was one of the years when FCB didn’t win it. The presenter read out the judges’ comments and it credited the winning agency for doing very well because it didn’t have the unique advantage of FCB in having creative and media in-house. And I just laughed out loud, because all the judges and leaders of our industry had acknowledged this huge advantage we had. They were almost referring to it as some sort of award cheat that we had.”

At the time, the comment struck me as an example of the hubris that often emerges when executives talk about their own agencies.

However, last night, at the Beacon Awards, it occurred to me that there was a lot truth woven into Thomason’s statement.

As the evening progressed, the letters ‘F’, ‘C’, ‘B’ kept rolling, as the agency was called up time and time again in front of the sell-out crowd of almost 1,000 media types assembled at the Viaduct Events Centre.

FCB Media walked away with a total of nine golds and 11 silvers over the course of the night—a tally so big that host Mel Homer joked the agency could play dominoes across the stage with all its trophies.

If there was to be a trophy at the end of that domino line, it could have been the supreme award the agency also won for Best in Show for its ‘Using mobile to own moment’ campaign for the Maritime NZ or, alternatively, it could have been the Media Agency of the year award.

FCB head of client service Simon Teagle was particularly proud of landing the latter of these two awards. 

“Winning MAOTY is a great accolade for our team,” he said. “They are seriously the smartest and most committed group of people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Our people have high standards, they respect everyone they deal with, and they have created a high-energy fun culture that is second to none. I couldn’t be more proud.”

FCB head of strategy Rufus Chuter mirrored these sentiments, saying: “Like Teags, I’m just so proud of all the people across FCB, our partner agencies, clients and media owners that made it happen. Great media thinking doesn’t happen in a silo; it’s about a bunch of smart people all pulling in the same direction. We’d be the first to admit our model gives us an advantage but it still needs brilliant people to make it happen.”   

FCB’s wins were spread across campaigns for the Ministry of Social Development, Audi, Maritime NZ, New World, the NZ Fire Service, the Health Promotion Agency, Flight Centre and the European Motor Distributors Limited.

One of the most successful entries—and a favourite among audience members unscientifically polled—was FCB’s ‘It’s not OK in any home’ campaign for the Ministry of Social Development.

Featuring a subtle message delivered across the pages of an article of Home magazine, this campaign showed that you don’t always need a massive budget to make an impact with a campaign.

To cap off a successful evening, the Ministry of Social Development shared the Advertiser of the Year award with Frucor Beverages.

While it is unusual for two advertisers to be declared joint winners, it did provide a reminder of how disparate successful media campaigns can be.    

If the Ministry of Social Development campaign was understated, Frucor’s successful effort of the night, the ‘Jono V Ben’ campaign, was the exact opposite. It was loud, splashed on the brand’s cans and bottles,  and distributed across every available channel through the comedic efforts of the MediaWorks stars.

By the end of the evening, ‘Jono V Ben’ had claimed three golds and two silvers—leaving the agencies involved quite chuffed.

The ‘Jono V Ben’ entry was interesting in that it was credited not only to the media agency OMD but also Beat Communications and MediaWorks.

“Everything about the Jono V Ben campaign has been beyond our expectation and last night was no different.  Year on year we have raised the bar. 

“The idea that MediaWorks pitched to us for variants based on Jono and Ben was brilliant,” Ursla Bowden, V senior brand manager at Frucor said in a statement.

“And the collaborative execution with Beat PR and OMD ensured the project delivered to its potential.  We couldn’t be more proud of the results and recognition this campaign has achieved.”

MediaWorks head of integration Alana O’Neill spoke about the growing importance of collaboration in the media industry in producing innovative work.  

“Getting opportunities to do that with fantastic brand teams like Jono and Ben, clients like Frucor and agency partners like Beat PR and OMD is what we love,” said O’Neill.

“This was an incredibly innovative piece of content work from the entire team and it is just so satisfying to see great ideas, hard work and brilliant results celebrated and recognised. These campaigns aren’t easy – they require huge resource, can be logistically complex and are inherently risky.  For us (MediaWorks Integration) it’s about working in partnership to bring our expertise in content creation, production, distribution and activation to each and every project we work on … Huge congratulations and thanks to everyone who contributed to this fantastic piece of work.”

This campaign also proved fruitful for OMD, contributing the lion’s share of its overall tally of three golds and seven silvers.

Carat and MBM rounded out the Golds for the night, for their campaigns for ASB Bank and Loyalty New Zealand respectively.

Much of the emphasis on Beacons night goes to the agencies, but the event also matters to the major media companies, who vie annually for the title of Media Company of the Year.

And last night, this accolade went to NZME. 

New chief executive Michael Boggs collected the trophy, but this award was really testament to leadership of former chief executive Jane Hastings who steered the company through a period of enormous change over the last year.

Ask any awards host, and they will tell you how difficult it is to capture the attention of an audience simply interested in winning awards and drinking copious glasses of win.

But last night, the constant hum of conversation died down—and happened in honour of possibly the most unassuming person to appear on stage all night, MBM managing partner Matt Bale.

Upon taking the stage, the mood remained relatively jovial. However, when Bale’s wavering voice betrayed the tears he was holding back, most of the audience stood up and listened to every word he said.

And at a time when the importance of culture is the most topical issue in media, Bale’s reference to his team as ‘famiglia’ (his mother is Italian) struck a chord with most gathered around the tables. It was without a doubt the most moving moment of the night.

Though sombre, Bale’s speech did not bring the party atmosphere to a halt. The wine drinking continued, and CAANZ introduced a range of bizarre entertainment segments, which included cameo appearances by Donald Trump and Lady Gaga impersonators as well as a performance by a live band (The Hipstamatics). 

And while the presence of Trump and Gaga at the event might have left some wondering if this was a Kiwi event, all doubts were cast aside when a meat pack was handed out during proceedings. The person who received that award was no doubt the envy of everyone in attendance. 

Here’s the full list of the winners:


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