ICA reveals its second Creative Power List of top agencies in Canada

Rethink has topped the ICA’s second annual Creative Power List, moving up from 4th place in last year’s rankings thanks to its strong performance at several major domestic and international awards shows.

The Power List rankings were determined by an agency’s 2021 performance in nine major global and domestic advertising awards shows, including the ADCCs, Cannes Lions, Clios, Effies and Marketing Awards. The rankings were introduced last January, but were based on 2019 awards show performances due to the ICA’s call to boycott awards shows that year in the immediate aftermath of the Covid crisis.

The honour for Rethink comes as no surprise considering the prolonged creative hot streak the agency has been on. It was the third-ranked Independent Agency of the Year at the Cannes Lions last year, and was also named Independent Agency of the Year and Canadian Network of the Year at last year’s Effies Awards. It was a fixture on the awards show circuit last year, earning nods for work including its much-praised “Ketchup Puzzle” for Heinz Ketchup, and “The World Needs More Nerds” for Science World.

Last month it made Contagious‘s Pioneer’s list, and earlier this week Fast Company named it one of the 10 most innovative advertising agencies of 2022.

FCB moved up seven places on the Power List to second overall, buoyed largely by the success of its “Project Understood” campaign for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society—which won multiple Lions in Cannes, including a Gold in the Digital Craft Lions category.

The list was inspired by South Africa’s Creative Circle, which launched more than 30 years ago and describes its purpose as using “the power of creativity to inspire the transformation of product, people and perception.”

The ICA works with the auditing firm RSM Canada to create the ranking (the methodology can be found here). Numbers 160 through 11 on the list were announced late last month, with the ICA revealing the top 10 agencies, one per day, since then—culminating in the announcement of the top agency on Tuesday.

Ogilvy surged eight places to third overall, followed by Cossette in fourth. Juniper Park\TBWA moved up 15 spots to fifth overall, thanks to the success of its “Signal For Help” campaign for the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

The list also includes some unlikely inclusions among the traditional creative shops that comprise so many of the entrants, including the Miami Ad School (#11), the National Film Board of Canada (#12), the CBC (#23), and The Globe and Mail (#46).

ICA president and CEO Scott Knox said their inclusion is because the Power List’s focus on creativity no matter its providence. “The organizations that deliver creative work is becoming a much broader [array] of businesses,” he said. “Rather than taking them out because we don’t define them as an agency, what we’ve done is that any Canadian business that was a lead entrant on an award entry across those nine programs, we will count it. It’s important to recognize that.”

There are more than 100 first-time entrants on this year’s list (see the full list here), including relative newcomers like Broken Heart Love Affair (#18) and established entities such as Initiative Media (#87) and Fuse Create (#96).

There were also several big movers, with No Fixed Address shooting up 50 spots to crack the top 10 at seventh overall, and Vancouver’s Giant Ant moving up from 111th two years ago to 19th. Vancouver’s One Twenty Three West moved up 61 spots to 23rd overall.

Chris Powell