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Why New Zealand is leading the creative world, according to D&AD’s most awarded ad agency


At last week’s D&AD Awards, the masterminds of the McWhopper campaign — Y&R New Zealand — were handed no less than ten Pencils, including six Yellow Pencils for the well-known Burger King campaign. As the team made one of its many journeys up to the stage, D&AD president Andy Sandoz commented, “there’s such a buzz in New Zealand right now, so much good work coming out of there.”

So why exactly is that? According to Josh Moore, Y&R New Zealand’s CEO and CCO, it’s all about size.

“In New Zealand a lot of the agencies are very integrated, so one agency will do multiple disciplines,” he says. “That’s because we’re a small country so we have to do everything. So when you get it right, you can win everything. In the UK and US, the clients are so big, and the agencies are so big, that everyone’s got their niche.”

Other D&AD winners from New Zealand included DDB Group, FCB, Special Group Auckland, Spark PHD, Colenso BBDO, and Saatchi & Saatchi’s NZ outpost. Although Y&R NZ isn’t small, with 100 people on the team, Josh says that what would normally be done by ten different businesses with 100 people in each, Y&R NZ does with ten people on each team. “That’s the advantage to be honest. It’s properly integrated. It’s a community of creatives, not a bunch of communities forced to be together.”

Another major driver of New Zealand’s current buzz is, of course, money, which Josh says fuels a more ambitious attitude to ideas. “The New Zealand economy is really good right now so there’s a lot of money being spent on the creative arts and commercial creativity. It’s a good place to be. When the wider community is positive, there’s just more open-mindedness.”

The McWhopper campaign drew global attention, when Burger King published an open letter to McDonalds, proposing “a ceasefire on the burger wars” for Peace Day, wherein the companies would collaborate by fusing their two best-known burgers, the Whopper and the Big Mac. Y&R NZ’s creative included a website and animated film plus billboards near McDonalds sites and proposed packaging. The open letter was published full-page in The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune.