Take the agency that created two 20-minute films for Land Rover's 'Go Beyond' TV channel - not a digital or advertising agency, but our winning customer publisher. Or the agency that delivered a digital spur for the Wonderbra fashion shows - from within the 'traditional' discipline of sales promotion. The Sony Bravia blog for the much-anticipated 'like no other' ad? Again, not from an agency that created the ad or a digital agency, but a big media agency wisely investing in emerging formats.
It is rare for there to be such a cohesive theme running through Marketing's agencies of the year. From every sector there is a rush to bulk up digital strengths and hire staff from a too-shallow pool of digital talent. In identifying the top agencies, then, an unforeseen criterion came into play - was the agency effectively transferring its core skills into digital channels; was it making itself future-proof?
Clients' requirements and the ways in which the public consumes media are evolving so rapidly that, for the first time in a long time, it is hard for agencies to keep up. Though no one truly knows where this latest tech wave will take us, those agencies proving themselves adaptable, agile and experimental are the ones shining through.
What we do know is that 'web 2.0' is forcing agencies to be, if not media-neutral, then at least less media-constrained. Equally, chasms in the agency integration ideal are being bridged by digital crossover. And almost as soon as the excitement has reached a crescendo, it will be over - a year from now, adding digital capabilities will not earn agencies a distinction; it will be the norm. What will remain exciting is the way in which digital channels are harnessed to deliver unforeseen, inspiring and effective solutions.
The agencies we recognise here for their achievements in 2006 have equipped themselves to be at the forefront of that creative leap forward; while innovating, they have the essentials well-covered, running financially successful and growing businesses, and delivering creative and effective work for clients. We congratulate them.
Our special thanks to: Patrick Barrow, Public Relations Consultants Association; Penny Bousfield, CM Insight; Peggy Connor, Julie Constable, Martin Jones, Paul Phillips, Alex Young, AAR Group; Nick Fennell, Archway Management; Julia Hutchison, Association of Publishing Agencies; Matthew Line, publishing consultant; Edwin Mutton, Institute of Sales Promotion.