Agency of the Year 2007: Design Agency of the Year - Landor

Effective work matched by a commitment to research has helped Landor reclaim the top spot.

Landor scooped Marketing's Design Agency of the Year 2007 title after it outperformed the other shortlisted agencies across all categories, which ranged from business growth to corporate social responsibility.

Although the judges were impressed by the quality of its new business wins, including Heinz Baked Beans and Etihad, a fast-growing airline, the agency's stand-out win was Morrisons. Landor was originally hired to review the supermarket's long-serving logo. However, Morrisons was so impressed with the agency's work that the brief developed into a root-and-branch rebranding programme, including in-store experience, the retailer's own-label range strategy and packaging design.

This lengthy and complex process involved working with the supermarket's roster agencies to ensure that Morrisons' positioning as a 'food specialist for everyone' was delivered to customers across all marketing communications. The work has proved a resounding success. Morrisons said the rebranding and marketing contributed to a 2.7% rise in its like-for-like sales and a 57% increase in operating profit in the first half of the year.

Financially, Landor, which also won the Design Agency of the Year title in 2005, has performed outstandingly, achieving 9% overall revenue growth from the first to the third quarter in 2007, compared with the same period last year. Its pitch-to-win conversion rate between January and September was an impressive 73%, up 19% for the same period in 2006.

But this success has not led the WPP agency to neglect its existing clients, for whom it has developed some of its most creative and effective work this year. Indeed, the judges were particularly impressed by Landor's work for Scotch whisky brand Johnnie Walker. The strategy involved creating a global visual identity for the brand for use across all marketing communications, including its sponsorship of Formula One team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

Landor also undertook work for Terry's Chocolate Orange. The brand wanted to reposition itself from being a seasonal treat to a small gift that can be enjoyed all year round, without losing its 75-year heritage. Landor created fresh packaging, with stories and games on the back, to re-energise the look of the brand while retaining its iconic look. The packs have proved a huge success: the brand's owner, Kraft Foods, attributed 15% of the 50% increase in sales in the first month after the relaunch to the new-look packaging.

Landor's creativity has been recognised elsewhere. It notched up two DBA Design Effectiveness Awards for its work on BDO International and Preem Petroleum, along with three of WPP's WPPED Cream Awards - one for Telefonica and two for S7 Airlines.

Landor proved itself a worthy Agency of the Year winner through its commitment to client research. It launched consumer programme The Cooler, which reports on the potential effect of future trends on brands, and has produced two further studies - on trends in snacking and in wealth. This commitment looks set to continue with the imminent publication of a paper on trends in sustainability.

Another factor that influenced the judges was Landor's ability to innovate, particularly with the launch of its Green Brands Survey in the UK, which was adapted from a similar survey that ran in the US last year. A study of consumer perceptions of 'greenness', it has provided the agency with a comparative view of US and UK consumers and has been widely covered by the global media including the Financial Times and The Guardian.

Landor has also demonstrated a solid commitment to corporate social responsibility, both internally and on behalf of its clients. In 2007 it launched Walkers Parks for Life, an initiative with PepsiCo to introduce Walkers-sponsored outdoor activity areas for children aged seven to 12 in UK towns and cities. It has built playgrounds in Reading and Leicester, with a further 1300 planned to open over the next 10 years. Additional examples of its commitment to ethical thinking are the agency's packaging work for non-profit food organisation Traidcraft and its 'Turn to 30 degs C' branding for washing detergent Ariel.

Internally, the agency's contributions to carbon-offsetting are used to subsidise green energy farms in China and India, and will contribute to WPP's target to reduce its carbon footprint by 20% by 2011. Landor's own CSR initiatives include a comprehensive recycling scheme and client sustainability programmes.

Another sign of its progressive thinking is its commitment to staff training. In 2007, 60% of Landor's staff benefited from training programmes and the agency also encourages inter-office exchange between its 18 offices around the world, for periods ranging from one month to two years. A worthy winner indeed.

Previous winners
2006: Wolff Olins
2005: Landor
2004: Williams Murray Hamm
2003: Checkland Kindleysides

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