Again, behold the most creative country in the world

Last year the token Kiwi at Special Group did the campaign for our Axis Awards, revealing to us that we’d won “the most Cannes Lions per capita of any country in the world in 2010 – one Lion per 155,989 people. Sweden was second with one Lion per 202,173 residents. The ‘we invented advertising’ UK? A sorry 4th with one Lion per 849,886 people. The creative powerhouse of the USA? 8th buddy, 8th! with just one Lion per 2,287,003 people. Yesiree.” So, as another of the tiny handful of New Zealanders working in New Zealand advertising, I felt a sense of duty to follow in Tony Bradbourne’s footsteps when Patrick Collister, editor of Directory magazine and The Big Won Creative Rankings, sent me his 2011 data.

What it showed was that again, in 2011, we punched all the way above our weight in terms of advertising creativity. In 2011, 73 nations produced 4048 campaigns creative enough to win at the premier global creative award shows. And if we split those out by country, we can see the amount of different campaigns that each country produced.

The ‘we invented advertising’ UK remains the most prolific producers of highly creative advertising, producing nearly 500 different awarded campaigns in 2011. The creative powerhouse of the USA clocked 368. Germany finished a solid 3rd with 308. And our friends across the ditch snuck 5th place off South Africa and India with 186. New Zealand, with 104 different awarded campaigns, finished a very respectable 13th.

The Big Won’s awarding of points gives an indication of quality of creativity, rather than simply quantity. More points are given to gold winners, and the winners at more prestigious award shows.

This analysis reveals that the USA produced the highest quality of advertising creativity in 2011, followed closely by the UK. It also shows that New Zealand improved its position considerably to 9th, indicating that the quality of our work is indeed very high.

However, this was not enough to assuage my short-country-syndrome symptoms and distinct lack of vitamin D. And so after a somewhat feverish series of Excel formulae, I managed to get a more unprejudiced read on things.

Our small but pert nation of 4,414,261 New Zealanders had in fact produced many more creatively awarded campaigns per million people than any other nation. For every million of us, we generated a whopping 23.56 highly creative campaigns.

Aussie were 7th with 8.23. The UK were 9th with 7.98.Germany 17th with 3.75. And the USA 32nd with just 1.18.

In terms of points, we were first by an even greater margin. So pat yourselves on the back New Zealand. You remain the most creative country on Earth.

Intriguingly, two Middle Eastern countries were second and third. So what’s going on there? In the case of Bahrain, this appears to be something of an anomaly in the data, with just one agency – FP7 Manama Bahrain – winning awards for 23 different campaigns or campaign executions for a single client, in a country of just 1.3 million people (in New Zealand, 28 different creative companies won awards for dozens of different clients).

However, in the case of the United Arab Emirates, 19 different agencies across Dubai and Abu Dhabi won awards, including Y&R Dubai, the most awarded Middle Eastern agency in Cannes Lions history, winning awards for 13 different clients. Something good is clearly afoot in Dubai.

But we clearly remain the country with the most fortuitous conditions for creativity: sophisticated clients, talented people and shit weather. And, as is important to point out, this matters because it means that we are a more effective industry for it. We punch well above our weight not only in terms of creative awards, but also our showing at international effectiveness competitions. DraftFCB and Colenso BBDO are both among the top ten most effective agencies in the world according to the Global Effie Index.

And I’d be happy to hazard a guess at what would happen to our effectiveness ranking if you split out those effectiveness tallies per million people.

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