It was a strong 12 months for VCCP despite hugely challenging circumstances. The agency won one of the most high-profile UK pitches of 2020, Walkers, replacing 22-year incumbent Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO. It grew its global account list from five to 10 and added 65 clients in total across the group.
On the creative work front, it helped long-time partner Comparethemarket.com reunite Take That with Robbie Williams to lift the nation’s spirits during lockdown, with a virtual gig streamed via YouTube and Facebook Live. Meerkat mascot Aleksandr took centre stage to present the show, which was part of a new Meerkat Music initiative offering customers content and music performances throughout 2020.
For Cadbury, VCCP created a spot celebrating acts of kindness that took place during the coronavirus pandemic. Another campaign tackled the problem of loneliness among the elderly, with a film encouraging people to stop and listen to the older generation.
Other work for the brand included the “Cadbury Heroes League”, aimed at inspiring families to unlock connections through gaming. The League featured 12 influencers and celebrities, including Louise Redknapp, Jordan Banjo and Roman Kemp, who were trained by or trained a member of their family to play the video game Street Fighter V, before battling it out in the ultimate showdown.
Judges said the agency’s new-business haul over 2020 was particularly impressive, adding that VCCP “demonstrated real investment in talent and a human reaction to Covid-19”.
Silver: The & Partnership UK
The agency had a good new-business record. Creative highlights included its work for Argos, with the retailer’s “Drum from home” series, encouraging people to get musical during lockdown. It also created another nostalgic Christmas ad for the brand, in which two sisters perform a magic show for their family.
For the Royal National Institute for Blind People, The & Partnership turned the Piccadilly Lights digital billboard “upside down” to raise awareness of the challenges of social distancing for the blind and partially sighted.
At the height of the crisis, agency founder Johnny Hornby took a stand on behalf of the industry, calling for advertisers to increase spend in a recession.
As the value of diversity came to the fore, the agency created a reverse mentoring scheme, matching diverse talent with senior leaders to drive conversation about diversity and inclusion.
Bronze: Ogilvy UK
During 2020, Ogilvy UK helped launch the Nightingale Hospital, shot a lockdown ad for Voxi and celebrated the courage of frontline workers with Dove. In a company survey, 84% of its employees said they felt proud to work at the agency and 88% agreed it was an inclusive place. Ogilvy also delivered initiatives for Black Lives Matter, Black Pound Day, UK Pride and UK Black Pride.
In 2020 Manifest aimed to create more integrated campaigns, with the goal to build meaningful brands, and it made real progress. Last year, it added more than 20 clients with integrated briefs to its roster. Campaigns included #OneOnUs for Brewgooder, with billboards broadcasting messages to NHS key workers from the general public.
Merkle’s year delivered business growth, a new agency operating structure and a new offering of CXM (customer experience management). This helped the agency deliver innovation and performance in testing times, with work that fused technology with media, underpinned by data capabilities. It also invested in diversity and inclusion initiatives and restructured its senior leadership team.
Stein increased revenues and margins, picking up eight global accounts including Capita, Covance, Danfoss, Elanco, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Google, IHS Markit and MSCI. To counter the disruption of live-event marketing, it created a digital, virtual solution called Connexhibition. The platform integrates functionality like live-chat, webinars and VR product showcasing.