Agency of the Year: Lucky Generals
Continuing our focus on the shots Awards Europe winners from 2019, we speak to [left to right] Joe Bagnall, Laurence Horner, Katie Lee and Kate Murphy - Head of Film, Strategy Director, CEO and CD respectively - at our Agency of the Year, Lucky Generals.
Congratulations on winning Agency of the Year; why do you think the last 12 months has been so successful?
Katie Lee: Simply put, by focussing on the work and not losing sight of our values. As an agency, we were set up to put the work first. No matter who the client is, or their business priority, everyone has the same ambition to make excellent creative work that delivers brilliant results.
As an agency, we were set up to put the work first.
In some ways, opening an office in New York has reminded us of - and helped us reinforce - those values this year. Setting up another business in a notoriously difficult market (where many English agencies have failed before) meant we had to stay true to our values to make sure that business had the right culture, and the right clients. And we are already seeing this pay-off with client wins and globally successful work such as Pop-Up Schop. We also have absolutely brilliant people, and because we treat those people properly, our churn rate of 7% and that means our energy is spent making work, not finding new team members. Everyone feeds off of our culture.
Above: Lucky Generals' work for Yorkshire Tea and Taylors of Harrogate.
How would you describe Lucky Generals' approach to creativity and the business in general?
Kate Murphy: I think the culture at Lucky's is very unique in the way it gets the best out of people. We have a very unstructured way of working but that doesn't mean it's chaotic or unproductive. Quite the opposite, in fact. People aren't restricted by process and bureaucracy, which lets everyone focus on the work and be the best they can be. But there is also a safety net in case things go wrong. And it is such a happy and fun place to work, which I think you can see in the work we make.
The agency and production landscape has been constantly evolving over recent years; how has Lucky Generals needed to adapt - if at all - to those changes?
Joe Bagnall: The key to production - and the biggest change over the years - is the need to remain flexible. Ideas come in all shapes and sizes and they'll always be a way to create/produce something despite timing or budget restrictions if you act smart.
Above: The recent Co-Op campaign.
Do you see more evolution on the horizon and, if so, what shape do you think it might take?
JB: There's always evolution, but it’s always difficult to predict. However, the most important things tend to stay the same.
What have been the biggest challenges for Lucky Generals - and agencies in general - over the past 12 months?
KL: Generally, I think there is a danger of distraction. It’s easy to get distracted by capabilities, operations, services which all draw us away from our core purpose of solving problems with creativity. There is too much noise out there in the market suggesting our core competency isn’t valuable enough, which we fundamentally disagree with.
There is too much noise out there in the market suggesting our core competency isn’t valuable enough.
Specifically, for us, our biggest focus this year was winning a big agency-defining clients, like The Co-op, and bedding them into the agency. It’s a challenge we feel we have successfully undertaken.
Of all the work listed for which you won, Amazon seems the most ambitious; would that be right and how rewarding was it to see it come to life so successfully?
Laurence Horner: What's so gratifying is that we've been working with Amazon since we were a very young agency, and our relationship with them has grown and developed - particularly our collaboration with their 'D1' internal creative department. It's been great to be invited to work on some of their biggest challenges and yes, great to see the work out in the world.
- Production Company Hungry Man
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Above: Harrison Ford stars in Lucky Generals' Amazon Alexa spot.
There's a spread of humorous, political and emotional campaigns in the shortlisted work; is it important to have that breadth of work over the course of a year?
KM: Of course! Lucky Generals has always been an agency that has strived to make work that is bigger than merely paying the bills, and this year has been no different with TrumpStinks, TimeToo [below] and Lucky Bastards.
Lucky Generals has always been an agency that has strived to make work that is bigger than merely paying the bills.
Making work like this, which allows us to fight common enemies, alongside the work for our brands, makes us all feel proud, pulls us together as a team of creative people and makes us excited and ready for what we can do in the year ahead.
Above: The Lucky Generals team on stage at the shots Awards Europe last November.
How important is recognition for the work you produce, and what does winning the Agency of the Year mean for you?
KL: We wake up every morning, come here and make great work - it’s everything we do and more important to us than anything else. It’s how we judge ourselves, and how we judge each other. So, recognition for the work is amazing and we’ve been shortlisted four times in four years for Agency of the Year awards, so to finally get it is brilliant. Fifth time Lucky!
What are your hopes and plans for Lucky Generals across 2020?
Making famous work that has an impact on our clients business, but across all our clients, not just one or two, and across both our offices. And having a laugh while we do it.
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