A respected industry magazine has chosen a New Zealand business as its global creative agency of the year.
Special Group's latest accolade makes it the first local agency to be given this title by trade publication Campaign magazine.
This is a huge coup for the locally owned and operated agency, given the title usually goes to the well-known brands out of New York, London and Amsterdam.
Special Group fended off competition from BBH (Singapore), adam&eveDDB (London), The Brooklyn Brothers (US) and Mother (London).
The award was won last year by US agency Weiden+Kennedy, which recently attracted global headlines for its powerful work for Nike featuring former NFL player Colin Kaepernick.
This comes back off a strong run for Special Group. The agency, which now employs 160 staff across four offices, launched into the US with the opening of its Los Angeles office last year.
The agency was started in Auckland in 2008, before expanding to Sydney and Melbourne.
"The advertising industry loves awards," said Special Group co-founder Tony Bradbourne in a statement. "But to win a global award of this scale and prestige, from such a revered and established institution, against some of the biggest advertising firms in the world, is certainly worth celebrating."
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Bradbourne added it signified a shifting power dynamic in the industry.
"For too long we have been dominated by international conglomerates, and now we've been able to unanimously prove that New Zealand creativity shines on the world stage – alongside other creative industries like film and our music," he said.
In their comments, the judging panel noted how impressed they were by Special Group's performance in a year afflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"[Special Group] opened two new offices, one in Melbourne and one in Los Angeles, and won 40 new pieces of business including Uber Eats in North America and Canada," the judges said.
The agency's strong track record has continued recently, with the local arm winning the Kiwibank account and the team in Australia landing ANZ.