How did a creative agency win the MFA's top media award?

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 27 October 2014
Boost Mobile's 'Stay Living' campaign.

Creative agency The Monkeys took home the Grand Prix award at the Media Federation of Australia (MFA) awards last week for its work with Boost Mobile. The competition judging panel called the spot “as good as it gets.” But as deserved as it was, many were left wondering, how did a creative agency win the top media agency award?

It’s not the first time agencies outside the media sphere have entered media awards. At the Cannes Lions this year, AdNews reported that of the 3000 entries to the Media Lions award, more than 90% were entered by non-media agencies including creative agencies, production houses, PR, content producers and TV networks.

MFA CEO Sophie Madden said the organisation looks at entries as “cleanskins” when judging for the awards, and does not know which agency did the work in front of them.

But even so, Madden added that The Monkeys are a full-service offering with a channel planning arm and so its focus on creative work was not a factor in the decision.

The Monkeys CEO and co-founder Mark Green said the company has been doing channel planning for a number of years but have a view that “media is only part of the solution.”

“To be able to actually justify why you're proposing another way of communicating you actually need some kind of methodology or science behind it - that's why we've got channel planning in the agency,” Green said.

“The reality of the industry today is there are many different ways that you can connect a brand and audience and that kind of creative and media siloing is going to have to change.”

The White Agency MD Andrew Davenport said the industry has been impacted by shifts in media, including the advent of programmatic, which has seen publishers trying to create more interesting opportunities for buyers. It means instead of creative agencies just doing an above the line idea which gets rolled into a media plan, media itself is offering more creative opportunities to create more engagement with audience.

With the shifts in place, Davenport believes media agencies are more likely to become creative as well.

“From a media agency’s point of view, it doesn’t just want to be a programmatic trading desk, it has to be strategic and creative to go with it,” Davenport said.

“The industry is changing. It's like digital, everybody is crossing lines and doing things. But we’re still in the creative industry and ideas always win.”

Bohemia managing partner and MFA awards chair Brett Dawson agreed that “ideas and strategy can come from anywhere” and said there was no reason why it needed to be strictly media agencies that apply for awards.

“Media agencies are getting more and more engaged and involved in content and creative agencies are getting more and more involved in the craft of media,” said Dawson.

“All of the winners, when you think about it, were well beyond traditional media planning, there was a big content idea inherent in each and that idea can come from a media agency or a creative agency.”

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