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MAA Awards: A night of success for cutting-edge creativity
[March 14, 2014]

MAA Awards: A night of success for cutting-edge creativity

(Guardian Web Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Posters carved from ice; correctly spelled and punctuated graffiti; 143 David Baileys; Skittle Fruit Ninjas; bicycle cut-outs; and a little boy called Harrison, whose father "wished he had cancer".

That was a sample of the 2014 Marketing Agencies Association (MAA) Best Awards. Creativity, craziness and, every so often, a piece of work that cut straight to the heart and got the nation talking were pre-eminent.

"This year there was a big difference between good work and outstanding quality and creativity – showing that, despite a tough 2013, there are agencies and brands still truly reaching for excellence," says MAA managing director Scott Knox.

Social media was big in 2013 and it's set to get bigger. Knox says that there was a definite trend for work from larger advertisers that ran across several communications channels, such as the We are David Bailey campaign run by Cheil Worldwide for Samsung, which scooped four awards – including the coveted Best of the Best. It found 143 people called David Bailey, then let them loose with cameras to prove that you don't have to be "the" David Bailey to take amazing shots.

But Knox also points out the extremely high standards of creative execution from smaller advertisers, who pushed their resources and the excellence of their agencies to the limit. In particular, agencies running campaigns for charities or not-for-profit organisations came up with work featuring words and pictures that were impossible to ignore.

Ais London's campaign, "I wish my son had cancer", was created for charity Harrison's Fund, which raises money for research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Its simple but devastating message – that, unlike cancer, the disease has no cure and no treatment – picked up awards for best writing, best photography, best creative advertising and best creative direct marketing.

"It was terrifying and inspiring," says creative Dan Madden of ais London. "Terrifying when we went to the client! But so inspiring when they were brave enough to buy it, so all credit to them." And ais art director Matt Eastwood adds: "It's made a massive different to the client. That's the main thing. It has really helped to raise awareness of the charity." Movember was another good cause to win big, with Haygarth's "Gillette – the best a mo can get" campaign scooping best experiential marketing campaign and best art direction. Judge Liza Jazwinski, brand director at Bacardi Martini, called it "cool, hip and flawless". And Guardian readers voted The Hub's bid to "Put the youth back into the Youth Hostel Association" their best consumer campaign.

It was also a night for familiar names: the Iris Worldwide team picked up six gongs including agency of the year and best youth initiative for their Academy of the Extraordinary, which aims to find the UK's best new creative graduate talent.

Dan Saxby, joint chief executive of Iris Worldwide London, says: "We're over the moon. We've got such a diversity of talent and so much creative brilliance. Winning awards means that the best talent in the industry will come and work for us – and we'll continue to put the best work out." But new players weren't absent, either. One to watch in future will undoubtedly be Aesop. Formed three years ago by just four people (though it's now up to 40 employees and rising), it won best breakthrough agency of the year. Judges cited its "hard-wired storytelling instinct" that achieved compelling results for clients including HSBC and Shell.

"It's the only awards we actually entered!" says CEO Roger Hart. "Winning this award means industry acceptance. It means so much to all our staff who made it happen. It means that we're up there. It means that what we're doing is believable and credible. We can complete with the best agencies in the world." Judge Iain Morrison, head of marketing and communications at GLL, says that the awards, now in their 24th year and presented this year by comedian and actor Kerry Godliman at The Brewery in London, are going from strength to strength. "Unlike other award ceremonies, these aren't dominated by the usual suspects in terms of big agency groups and the mega-budget FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] brands of the world.

"This is a much more level playing field. I think you see smaller agencies coming through and that's extremely beneficial, because small, creative hotspots are very often where the new and exciting work is coming from and where the great talent of the future is currently sitting. It's great to see that talent coming through." "The MAAs is a chance for the best marketing agencies and their clients to get together to celebrate the great work that they have created over the past year," says Knox. "It's a fun evening but one that works as a fantastic showcase for the best ideas and creatives in our business." (c) 2014 Guardian Newspapers Limited.

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