CR’s Ad Agency of the Year: AMV BBDO

This year, CR’s Ad Agency of the Year accolade in our Annual issue has been given to AMV BBDO, an agency that while huge has proved itself nimble across a range of media, from clever campaigns using Twitter to a feature-length film for Sainsbury’s. Here, we talk to ECDs Alex Grieve and Adrian Rossi about a fantastic year of work…

This year, CR’s Ad Agency of the Year accolade in our Annual issue has been given to AMV BBDO, an agency that while huge has proved itself nimble across a range of media, from clever campaigns using Twitter to a feature-length film for Sainsbury’s. Here, we talk to ECDs Alex Grieve and Adrian Rossi about a fantastic year of work…

Ten years ago, so-called ‘traditional’ agencies were being warned that their days were numbered. These dinosaurs would soon be extinct. we were told, as a new breed of digital agency took over. Well, our Agency of the Year for 2014 shows just how wrong this prediction turned out to be. Abbott Mead Vickers, as was, made its reputation with beautifully crafted print and TV campaigns for the likes of The Economist, Guinness and Volvo which relied on brilliant copywriting and art direction. But it has wholeheartedly embraced the potential of the new platforms available to agencies today: below we ask Grieve and Rossi about the ‘digital question’ and how the agency’s creative department is set up to work successfully across all media.

CR: AMV has produced successful campaigns in a wide range of media this year – do you think it is very important for a modern ad agency to be able to do this?

Alex Grieve & Adrian Rossi: Paradoxical as it may sound, one of the reasons AMV has produced such a diverse range of campaigns across different media is that we don’t think about media. We think about ideas. Then we think about the most relevant and effective and engaging places to put those ideas. Of course what allows us to think and act like this is that AMV is equipped with the right people with the right skills and the right kit to help us do that. We’re tooled up. So in a way we are both very modern and very traditional. Traditional in the sense that we never underestimate the power of ideas. Modern in the sense that we are incredibly open-minded about where those ideas can best shine.

CR: What steps has AMV taken to achieve this?

AG & AR: We’ve hired the very best people we can. The best chief technology officer. The best digital producers. The best innovators. The best social experts. The best everything. Because the only thing more important than ideas is, of course, the people who think of them. Many years ago David Abbott said, “hire good people and let them get on with it”. And many years later it’s still the defining principle of AMV.

CR: Are you clients excited about creating work across lots of media?

AG & AR: Of course they are. But again, it’s not about doing things just because you can, it’s about doing them for the right reasons. Sometimes (not often!) that may mean just a 30” TV ad. Mostly, it will be the full range of different media available to us.

CR: You became ECDs last November, how would you describe your editorial strategy?

AG & AR: Advertising, increasingly, has been taken over by ‘complicators’. People who try to codify, mystify and confuse what is, in essence, a simple industry. Our job, our only job is to move people. Move them to do something, think something, create something; move them to buy something. In short, don’t think about awards, don’t think about what this does for you or your bank balance or your popularity, think about how your idea will get someone who’s not the slightest bit interested in a brand to be interested. Do that and everything else follows.

CR: What are the challenges of running a large creative department today?

AG & AR: There is one simple challenge that like most simple things is incredibly difficult. It’s to create an environment where people can best express themselves. Creativity flourishes where people have room to fail and think; where you are driven by curiousity not fear. The better people feel, the better the ideas they will come up.

See more of AMV BBDO’s work at amvbbdo.com.

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