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Essays

Advertising Network of the Year 2013 – JWT

JWT Cairo’s ‘Fakka’ campaign for Vodafone Egypt conquered the world this year, but JWT has proved it is much more than a one-trick pony by re-emerging as a network to be reckoned with

The judging for this year’s Advertising Network of the Year was the most difficult to date. As most will agree, 2013 was not a vintage year in terms of overall performance, with not one agency network standing out amidst the crowd across all judging criteria. Most have struggled against the tide in some way, shape or form.

Our focus was on three core areas: awards won, new business and the quality of work during 2013. Memac Ogilvy, Impact BBDO and Leo Burnett all performed well in the new business stakes. They also notched up a considerable number of awards.

In the end, however, there can only be one winner, and this year it is JWT. It is the most awarded network by a country mile, created some of the best work ever seen in the region, and has in many ways cemented its return to form following years wallowing around in the paddling pool. At the centre of this renaissance have been the network’s Cairo, Dubai and Beirut offices, with Vodafone Egypt’s ‘Fakka’ campaign conquering all before it. No other idea from the MENA region has achieved such fame on the international stage, ensuring the region is firmly placed on the global map for innovating business solutions. This new direction – delivering ideas that are business solutions rather than simply offering marketing communication pieces – is the way the industry needs to evolve if it wants to continue to provide clients with value in the increasingly complex social, financial, technological and business environment of the 21st century. The idea behind this single piece of work has gone on to traverse the world of international awards ceremonies, from creativity to planning and effectiveness, garnering a total (to date) of 20 awards, including three grands prix and 10 golds, amongst them Egypt’s first ever gold Lion at Cannes.

As Ian Haworth, global chief creative officer at RAPP, and president of the promo & activation jury at the Dubai Lynx, said of ‘Fakka’: “This piece topped out across all the judging criteria: creativity, execution, strategy and results. The local market insight of ‘small change’ drove everything: the idea; strategy and even the product name ‘Fakka’. No wonder it drove a 510 per cent increase on the client’s target. It was so simple. That was its genius. That simplicity drove everything and it stayed pure to the idea.”

In total, JWT brought home in excess of 100 awards regionally and internationally this year, including gold Effies for the Dubai and Jeddah offices, a handful of golds at the Dubai Lynx, and the MENA Cristals’ Network of the Year title.

It also created some of the best work this year, with two of its TVCs making Campaign’s Top 10 films of the year, including ‘Swimming Mango’ for Dolceca.

Importantly, the network had a solid year in terms of new business wins, with 31 accounts won, including Nike’s social media brief, Nespresso, Arabtec and Kenwood in Dubai, and Red Bull and Danone in Egypt. It also picked up new business in its Riyadh, Beirut, Jordan, Bahrain, Jeddah and Tunis offices, although it was out performed by Memac Ogilvy, Impact BBDO and Leo Burnett in terms of new business growth. It did not, however, lose any accounts and delivered healthy growth results.

The network also improved its offering and expanded its regional footprint across the MENA region, led by Vatche Keverian, who was named JWT’s CEO for the Middle East and North Africa last August following former CEO and chairman Roy Haddad’s appointment as parent company WPP’s first ever director for the Middle East and North Africa. Amongst the improved offerings was the arrival of global digital consultancy HeathWallace, which expanded its operations into the MENA region in September, with new offices based in Dubai and Riyadh. Headed up by Kieran O’Sullivan, who was appointed the consultancy’s regional head of digital, it will be responsible for developing the company’s experience of CMS implementation within the marketplace. The network also established offices in Qatar and Baghdad.

JWT ends the year as it began it – with dynamic yet sustainable results across multiple criteria and markets, maintaining excellence in the field of communication-based business solutions and pioneering ideas the world is taking notice of. All it has to do now is ensure it keeps it up.

Recent winners: Memac Ogilvy (2012); Leo Burnett (2011)

RUNNERS UP

Leo Burnett
For the second year in a row Leo Burnett lies in second place. Why that is is largely due to its creative performance this year, its loss of a number of accounts, and the personnel changes that have taken place in Dubai. The loss of Saudi Telecom was significant, as was the departure of Peter Bidenko in September, whilst it has struggled to win major pieces of new business and its Beirut and Cairo offices have remained relatively quiet creatively compared with previous years.

That said, in many ways Leo Burnett did enough to reclaim its Advertising Network of the Year crown. It was named Network of the Year at the Dubai Lynx, where it picked up two grands prix and 26 other awards, whilst Leo Burnett Beirut won the Agency of the Year accolade at the MENA Cristals. It also took home 10 Effies, including two golds, and won a total of 52 new pieces of business, including Zain Telecom in Saudi Arabia, Samsung Galaxy Young and Qatar Olympic Committe.

However, it was unusually quiet on the international scene compared with previous years, winning a couple of Cannes Lions bronzes, a silver Golden Drum and two Epica golds. What’s more, its creative performance has not been top notch across the network, with André Pereira Nassar joining as ECD of its Dubai operations primarily tasked with ushering in a new era of creativity at the agency. However, it was arguably Dubai that created the network’s best work this year.

Yet the agency still packs a powerful punch and could well win the title again next year if it returns to its former creative excellence and begins to win the kind of big pieces of business that it used to hoover up at leisure.

Impact BBDO
For the first time since Campaign began naming its Advertising Network of the Year, Impact BBDO appears in the top three. It has done this primarily based on numbers.
Which ever way you slice it, the network had a very good year. It won 54 new pieces of business, had a pitch conversion rate of 78.5 per cent, won 59 awards, and added more than $50 million in capitalised billings. It also created one of the most successful pieces of work this year – Pepsi & Lay’s Ramadan’s campaign.

The network also won two grands prix at the Dubai Lynx in a year that saw it expand significantly across the region.

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