Mumbrella Readers Choice Awards – creative agency of the year shortlist

Mumbrella Awards trophiesThe following entries have been shortlisted in the creative agency of the year category of the Mumbrella Readers Choice Awards.  

The order that follows was deliberately randomised so there is no alphabetical advantage in the order they appear.

Subscribers to the Mumbrella daily email will receive a link to the voting website.

While readers are invited to comment on the entries, please be aware that we will be alert for both astroturfing and deliberate attempts to sabotage a particular entry. Multiple comments from the same IP address, or otherwise suspicious postings will be moderated.

In this category, you are looking for the answer to two questions: Has the agency had a good year? And has the agency done well for its clients?

Please remember that including a video was optional, so entries that do not do so should not be judged down for that reason.

The shortlist:

  • Cummins Nitro
  • Publicis Mojo
  • Smart
  • Soup
  • The Hallway
  • The Works


Soup was the first Australian agency to harness the power of word-of-mouth. Founded in 2003, we remain the leader in word-of-mouth and advocacy marketing.

It’s been a tough year in adland, but 2009 has been a cracker for us. Our ability to create authentic and effective conversations for our partners have seen serious sales increases and positive brand awareness.

Our strength and success lies in the fact we defy pigeon holing. We work with clients in just about every marketing category: from FMCG to beer to pharmaceuticals. Each campaign is tailored for a specific product, client and target market from party engagements to events, ambassador programs to blogger campaigns and social media.

In an environment where traditional media struggles for the influence it once enjoyed, marketers who are looking for communication which cuts through are looking to harness the power of word of mouth.


Soup’s panel of influencers (numbering over 60,000) sample and discuss products during development and launch. These Soupers are not paid and their opinions about products cannot be bought, thereby making the conversations genuine and authentic. If the product is great, Soupers will say so, if not, they’ll tell it like it is.

The model has more than proved its efficacy and 2009 has been the best year yet.

• In a declining market, Soup has increased revenue and staff by 300%.

• Launched a New Zealand office in July which now has four campaigns under its belt.


In 2009, Soup has worked on projects for brands including:

• Uncle Toby’s Fruit Fix

• Toohey’s Extra Dry

• Lawson’s Bread

• Huggies & Snugglers

• Nestle Club Chocolate & Nescafe Café Menu

• Pfizer

• Diageo Smirnoff

• National Foods Le Rice

• Johnson & Johnson Neutrogena

• Renault

• Sony Flash Handycam

• Kellogg’s Special K & All Bran Dual


Soup is dedicated to raising the standard of business practice in word-of-mouth marketing and is working closely with the US-based Word of Mouth Marketing Association on the development of robust measurement and ethical standards for word of mouth marketing in Australia.


The proof that Soup and word-of-mouth works is in the pudding – or the soup, as the case may be.

Campaign – Uncle Toby’s Fruit Fix. A 6 per cent lift in sales compared to a test market where all other media was equal.

Campaign – TED Summer Project (Lion Nathan). A 14 per cent increase in “brand adoration”.

Campaign – Renault Koleos mummy blogger test drive campaign. There was a 79 per cent increase of interest in the Renault Koleos among those who read a post on one of the participating blogs and 36 per cent went on to get more information online about the Koleos.


Soup’s peers have also judged the agency’s work as both creative and effective.

• Effie Award – Gold Effie in the Healthcare category for Pfizer on which Soup was a partner with Sudler & Hennessy

• AMI award – Experiential and Brand Experiences Victorian state winner for TED Summer Project (Lion Nathan).


We all know there’s a communications revolution afoot. Technology, cultural and behavioural change is creating a maelstrom of conversation around brands. The proliferation of both brands and media choices has created confusion and uncertainty.

Marketing now has many moving parts and the present can seem impossible to navigate, let alone the future.

In times of great change, clarity of vision and clear principles become even more important. They inform what we do and how we do it, they make the complex simple, and they cut through a lot of the industry hyperbole to keep us focused on the truly important.

Mojo’s vision has a religious simplicity – Creativity Powers Progress. Not growth, not profit, but progress.

For us, progress is the enlightened path for business that includes the desire for growth and beyond that, prosperity. In other words, creativity has a real purpose at Mojo.

And, like no other creative company in this part of the world (and arguably in New York and London), the combination of talents and capabilities at Mojo and Zenith Optimedia allow us to deliver creativity like no one else.

Mojo has a full media planning and buying operation at its core with all the data, analytics and tools that come with it. While the elite of Madison Ave and Soho wax on about the return to the full service model, Mojo and Zedo have been busy getting on with it.

So too with digital capability and design. We are joining up the tribes to create a unique creative culture and community – across geographies, and, with the help of Google Wave, across timezones.

In choosing our religion (Creativity Powers Progress) we are spawning a new level of collaboration between all the players inside and outside the company.

We’ve become a magnet for stellar international talent, including Craig Davis (former WW Creative Director at JWT), Micah Walker (formerly Fallon London) and Franklin Tipton (formerly of Goodby, Silverstein and Partners in San Francisco).

So far this year, as well as a bunch of creative awards, we’ve won the Virgin Mobile digital business, the assignment for Coca Cola’s Burn in 43 European markets, Pay Pal (also a digitally led assignment) and all the Goodman Fielder business for Australia and New Zealand. We’ve completed work for P&G in the US and India, re-invented confectionery communications for kids and Cadbury, launched a campaign for Coke in Russia, designed the whole future of Steinlager domestically and internationally, and created the largest cultural survey in Australia’s history for Qantas.

And it’s only November.



2009 has been an amazing year of creative and commercial success for The Hallway. We tripled in size, we won every pitch we entered, we scored Gold and Bronze Lions at Cannes and we picked up our first regional client. Best of all, we did not lose a single client or staff member.

In November we celebrated our second birthday.

We put interactive thinking at the heart of our business. This is not synonymous with online. It’s a different way of thinking. Brands have to give something to earn the attention of consumers. It draws on the best of the digital and traditional agency skills. It influences the ideas we create and the way we structure our agency.

We do not pretend to have the perfect agency model (is that really possible?). But we do believe that The Hallway’s model enables us to create communication platforms that really work in today’s fragmented media world.

And in a world of uncertainty, one truism exists: Everything is going to keep on changing. To stay relevant, agencies need to be flexible and fluid. We need to constantly adapt. We are structured to deliver on that promise.

New Business:

– Montana Wines

– ZUJI Singapore

– Roche Products

– Marist Youth Care

Client Retention:

– Jameson Irish Whiskey

– Signe (Pernod Ricard)

– Malibu Rum

– ZUJI Australia

– Australian Jockey Club

– Merivale

– BetterDeal


– Cannes – Gold & Bronze Lions

– Clios – Silver & Bronze Statues

– AdNews – Emerging Agency of the Year (finalist)

– B&T – Emerging Agency of the Year (finalist)

– B&T – Specialist Agency of the Year (finalist)

You gave us 500 words. This is our story in 293. That’s plenty. You probably wont read anymore. Enjoy the video!


In 2000 we left our traditional roles to launch an agency that was, well, smarter.

A creative agency for reaching modern consumers. With specialists in consumer psychology, brand strategy, advertising, digital and design under one roof.

An agency of regional talent, with Australian and New Zealand offices run as a unified creative business under a single P&L.

A local independent agency where global brands feel right at home. But without the global overheads.

Now we approach our 10 year anniversary after what has not been an easy 12 months. But it has still been a good 12 months.

In a year that saw several agencies close their doors, we opened a new Auckland office that has now become a thriving addition to our Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland operations.

These offices work together as a single agency under our “Four Offices, One Agency” operating structure, bringing together the best strategic and creative thinkers from every SMART office on every major campaign.

Our 2009 campaign work on brands as diverse as Glaceau Vitamin Water, Mother and Vodafone to DrinkWise, Specsavers and the federal Government has been widely recognised for both its creativity and effectiveness. This included two Silver Trophies at the 2009 Australian Effie Awards in both the Beverages and all important ROI category.

Above all, while the industry contracted our revenues continued to grow, posting a 32 per cent increase on the back of strong new business performance and an increasingly diversified revenue model. In fact, our non-traditional revenue from digital, experiential, direct and promotional services constituted 43 per cent of 2009 YTD revenues.

SMART’s 2009 new client wins included:

Bevilles Jewellers
Deep spring
Glaceau Vitamin Water
Gold Coast City Council
Gold Coast Rapid Transit [Qld Government]
Lift plus NZ
Lotte Group
Horticulture Australia Ltd (Pears & Macadamias)
Mother NZ
Piping Hot
Pump NZ
Star Resorts
Stocklands Apartments
Unilever Dove Pink Ribbon Campaign
Vodafone (Experiential)

These clients and our first-rate team of SMART talent are bringing us ever closer to our ambition of being the region’s best independent creative agency. Offering a network of mid-sized agencies working together to offer a world-class and world-renowned creative product.

We think it all adds up to something pretty smart.


2009 has been a phenomenal year for CumminsNitro (now SapientNitro) Brisbane – we have achieved more than we could’ve possibly imagined. Highlights include:

• The most awarded campaign in the world – “The Best Job in the World”

• Local and international award accolades across our entire client base

• 5 new clients

• No client losses

• Revenue growth of over 15 per cent YOY

• Billings up over $50m YOY

• Operating profit margin of 28 per cent

• Profit up 10 per cent YOY

The year saw the agency work through an incredible volume of activity, all of an exceptional standard. We’re a very busy agency with a mix of brand, retail, digital and direct response clients. When we opened the doors of our Brisbane agency four years ago we knew it would be successful, we just had no idea that we would taste so much success in such a short period of time – 2009 has certainly been a year to cap off the incremental triumphs.

The agency has more than doubled in size year on year and now sits as the largest and most revered agency in Brisbane. We are proud of our achievements in such a short period of time, and know that it’s the agency’s culture and our staff’s passion that sets us apart from other agencies. With this passion, we are able to deliver exceptional work for our clients.

This outstanding creative work has meant that every client of CumminsNitro Brisbane has had their advertising awarded in 2009. This year, CumminsNitro has received numerous awards at various ceremonies, including Cannes International Advertising Festival, New York Festivals, ADMA, Caxtons, AMI, BAD Awards, London International, AWARD, MIXX Awards plus many more.

Our track record of achievements over the past 12 months and the vision and outlook for the future suggests that we’re well on track to replicate our success year after year. In fact, the outlook is brighter than ever. 2009 saw us change from CumminsNitro to SapientNitro, so in 2010 we will enter with a new identity and a new focus. As SapientNitro we become part of a new future-oriented network. The merger of Nitro Group with Sapient, the world’s No. 1 rated interactive agency, has created the first brand driven digital network that works from ideation to e-commerce on one platform to drive sustainable growth for our clients.

Yes, 2009 has certainly been a big year for CumminsNitro.


Welcome to The Works – the story of the ambitious (little) agency that could.

What you’re about to read isn’t the rags to riches soap opera of a rough diamond from the wrong side of the tracks who, through hard work, a dash of luck and roguish charm rises up to conquer the world. There’s much more to it than that.


This is non-negotiable. Always has been. Every solution to any problem is a creative response – so it makes sense that creativity drives The Works. Our model puts creative people in front of clients every day, talking to them, understanding where they want their brand to be and what’s stopping it from getting there. Here’s what our people, and our clients, have achieved this year.


For over two years Jim Beam’s ‘The Bourbon’ campaign, created by The Works, has entertained Australians and helped keep Jim Beam at Number 1. Then we sold it the US of A.

From Milsons Point to the home of bourbon. Some people thought the Commonwealth Bank taking their account off shore was the end of the world. We were determined to be different.


In a category defined by tech speak and flash product shots, GPS maker Navman needed a point of difference. Together, we launched the ‘Avoid Carguments’ campaign. Based on the insight that every driver and their passenger have politely disagreed (or worse) on directions, the campaign proved hugely popular. Spearheaded by a TV spot featuring the John Paul Young classic ‘Love is in the Air’ plus radio, online and targeted outdoor, the campaign included unique POS – a major influence on GPS purchase. We produced the promotional booklet No More Carguments, a light-hearted guide to the rules and etiquette of car travel. The campaign proved a hit, taking market share from 27% to 35%, selling more units than any other manufacturer along the way.


Skoda had been making steady progress since their Australian launch. The brand was on people’s radar, but as the second biggest purchase of their life, they needed something more to get them over the line. We understood there needed to be a longer conversation than a simple TV spot. Resisting the temptation to behave like every other car manufacturer and fill the media (outdoor, online and print) with product features and benefits, the creative simply showed the model and microsite address (ConvinceYourBetterHalf.com.au and EatMyHat.com.au). The consumer visited the site to find out all the features, and build trust in the brand. Did it work? In a category decimated by the recession, Skoda recorded the highest growth of all the European car marques and has overtaken Saab, Alfa Romeo and Fiat.


A truly creative agency, full of creative people, is more than the sum of its ads. It’s a place that encourages creativity as a solution across the board. The Works directs TV, designs new products and even merchandises our own brand, selling sketchpads, pencils and T-shirts.


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