365 days ago, we fulfilled a lifetime professional ambition of winning Media Week’s Agency of the Year. And what a night and next few days they were. In fact, what a year it’s been. Our best ever.

Fast forward to this evening at the Grosvenor House Hotel and our bid to do the double and retain that diminutive trophy that means so much. Only MediaCom & Carat have successfully done the double in recent history and as far as we can tell no independent agency has ever achieved it.

We’re under no illusion that it’s going to be one hell of a challenge. I’m reliably informed by those who know that retaining a title is harder than winning it in the first place, and this year I’m sure will be no different. Goodstuff are up against the very best of UK media, all of whom have, like us, had a strong last 12 months and (putting industry adulation to one side) each agency will have their own personal reasons why this award would mean so much to them.

A brief look at the shortlisted agencies’ summaries show the headlines of their pitch. MediaCom have focused on their people strategy and their retention of Sky; MGOMD who describe themselves as the once “scrappy upstarts” have now moved into being OMG’s biggest UK agency; OMD UK have put in place a transformation programme that has helped deliver their best ever year; PHD haven’t provided a summary, but we all know how good PHD are; and finally our friends at The7Stars are understandably laying claim to be the Leaders of the Revolution and appear to have a “good news” story (we’ll excuse the copyright infringement this time…).

But who cares and why does it matter so much? Why do agencies enter in the first place? Why do those who don’t make the shortlist feel so aggrieved? Why do those who make the shortlist spend so much time and money on putting on their best pitch? And why do those who don’t win on the night give the judges such a hard time (apparently)? After all, there’s no income or clients attached to it.

All agencies will have their own and version of this but for Goodstuff, having proudly held the title for the past year, Media Week Agency of the Year matters because:

1. It’s the ultimate litmus test of who’s got it right. The industry is full of change, challenge and questions from clients, opinion formers and outside investors who are looking for clues as to what the future media agency might look like.

2. It helps the agency walk two feet taller. Putting the obvious benefits two feet would add to my height to one side, this award enables the agency to walk a bit taller. As an external endorsement of the work the whole agency is doing it further lifts morale, retention and with it our work for clients.

3. It provides a leadership platform. With Agency of the Year success comes a licence to lead the industry around the areas the agency is passionate about. Observers are rightly interested in your point-of-view and willing to hear you out. In our case, that’s creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurialism of which Startstuff, Showcase, Age of Independence and Independents’ Day video collaboration are probably our best examples.

Whatever the motivation for each agency, winning tonight will mean the world to them and we wish everyone the best of luck.

As for Goodstuff, whatever the result, It’s All Good.

Andrew Stephens | Founding Partner