However, long before we kicked off the long process for Agency of the Year, we sat down to define what attributes a good agency needs to become the best in a recession.
With all costs under pressure, almost all clients have either frozen or slashed their budgets. Marketers now expect their agencies to produce the same amount of work for less money, and most agencies have risen admirably to the challenge.
(If your agency is among this group, I hope you have expressed your thanks.)
Our judging is usually heavily weighted toward new business and 360¡ thinking, but, as most marketing departments felt this was not the year for sweeping agency changes, we balanced the criteria differently to make our finalists work hard for the prize. This included proving the level of success that can be achieved with a small budget.
It is not easy to show that an agency has added real value to a client's bottom line, but our winners did so beyond doubt. What is particularly pleasing this year is that there has been a good mix of agencies in the winning line-up, indicating that size is no barrier to cost-savings or effectiveness.
Another important area, and one where many agencies slipped up, was green credentials. In the week when Copenhagen has returned climate-change to the top of the news agenda, we are reminded that the issue of sustainable business will only gain in priority in the coming months. If you don't already, you should start expecting your agencies to document their emissions clearly. It may not add to your profit, but we are entering a decade when the footprint of brands and supply chains will come under the closest scrutiny.