So, Naked it was, then, for Media Week's Agency of the Year award. Is there anyone out there that would seriously disagree with this conclusion?
I remember some years ago the derision and dissenting voices that greeted the awarding of a similar accolade to Michaelides & Bednash, but perhaps the industry is now more accepting of the need - no, let's say demand - for agencies occupying the "strategic" end of media.
I have a confession to make as one of the judges on the panel that made this unanimous award. The truth is, I was a bit suspicious about all the hype about Naked and the "strategic" input they provide to a client's media business. In fact, I was more than suspicious, I'll go so far as to say that I had a predisposition against them. Yet, ultimately I voted for them unequivocally as the best agency. So why the conversion?
Let's start with a buzz-word - "media neutrality". Most of the other agency presentations tended to major on this pretty heavily and the shocking truth is that most of those agencies were either uncomfortable rationalizing how it fits into their offering or, even worse, didn't really understand the issue at all!
Why has Naked enjoyed such a fantastic run of new business? Because its offering naturally fits that segment of the market called media neutrality.
What's more, clients are interested in what they have to offer. One of the themes I have returned to again and again in this column is the effect that globalization is having on the media business and I believe Naked's success is a symptom of this change.
Mergers in media will continue on both the buying and selling end of the transaction process, and with this the strategic independence that an agency has will be called into question.
I'm not suggesting that the large agency groups
cannot square this, but, from what I see day to day in my role and specifically in the judging for this award, Naked was far more articulate in understanding the questions
in the client's mind and proffering a solution to those questions.
Another point worth making is the motivation of the individuals involved. As the agency world has coalesced into bigger groups and fewer choices, the level of enjoyment for those involved seems to have declined too. Accountability and reporting are as likely to be in New York as Soho W1, with share options, if you've been around long enough to have them, so far under water they're worthless.
What struck me more than anything with the Naked team was the passion and belief in, and enthusiasm for, what they're doing - building something they are totally committed to.
For a miserable sod like me, it was all very uplifting.
The question that many commentators have is whether Naked's success is merely a small niche segment that is being exploited well by them or if it represents a general business trend. My answer would be that it all depends on the response to the challenge by the existing media agencies. Be clear, Naked did not create their market, they understood it and they exploited it.
Ask yourselves why the demand is there.