Mumbrella’s creative agency of the year: Clemenger BBDO Melbourne

Peter Biggs

“In the fickle, fluid and fragile industry we call advertising – which seems to have all of the symptoms of ADD – it is horrendously difficult for an agency to be consistently successful,” says Peter Biggs, the boss of Clems Melbourne.

“But this year, we were recognised as Australia’s most creative agency. Again. We were also chosen as Australia’s most effective agency. Again. We also delivered a record commercial result. Again.”

It’s hard to argue with Biggsy.

nab_breakupClems was one of only two Australian shops to win a grand prix at Cannes – for NAB’s Break Up – which along with Carlton Draught ‘Slo Mo’, Guide Dogs Australia ‘Support scent’ and Yellow Pages ‘Hidden pizza restaurant’, helped the agency win more international awards than any Aussie shop this year.

Clems was named Agency of the Year at the Australian Effies and the Asian Marketing Effectiveness Awards, won the ADMA grand prix and was a big reason why BBDO was recognised as Network of the Year at Cannes.

The plan put in place by a management team that has come together since 2007 – Biggsy, creative chairman James McGrath, ECD Ant Keogh, executive planning director Paul Rees-Jones and COO Jonathan Isaacs – has succeeded in transforming a verytraditional agency into one that looks more future-proof than its rivals.

Break Up has dominated the headlines this year. But there has been clever stuff in other areas. It launched Twelevision, a social TV guide for mobile devices – ‘the lovechild of live TV and Twitter’. And it broadcast slow-motion clips of fans spilling beer or dropping pies with opera music in the background at footy matches as part of Carlton Draught’s AFL sponsorship.

The last five years have seen revenues grow by 92%, and in 2011 the agency reported the highest profit in its 65-year history.

New business success, though unspectacular in 2011, has included Mattel and the highly-prized Tourism Victoria account.

Clems’ story this year has been about making an already powerful agency yet more dominant through innovation and creativity and its efforts to push the industry on – something most of its rivals have failed to do.

Commended: The Monkeys

In 2011, The Monkeys will be remembered for The Ship Song Project for the Sydney Opera House. But besides Ship Song, and other decent work for Ikea and Parmalat, the five year-old agency’s story this year is still one of growth. Now with around 80 staff – up 22% on last year – revenue has increased by 33% and profit by 28%. And while the agency has won 24 new brands, it has retained all of its clients – unlike 2010, when it was hit by the loss of Foxtel.

A well-liked shop led by ambitious MD Mark Green and stellar creatives Justin Drape and Scott Nowell, The Monkeys has proved to be the hottest indie in 2011.


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