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AFR’s annual ‘most innovative’ list shows big opportunities for agencies


AFR’s annual ‘most innovative’ list shows big opportunities for agencies


Three marketing communications firms have placed in the top 50 of the 2016 edition of Australian Financial Review‘s annual ‘Most Innovative Companies’ report that also highlighted product development and professional services firms.

The results of the Financial Review 2016 Most Innovative Companies have been announced, highlighting that the development of products and services is rich with opportunities for the many marketing agencies looking to distance themselves from the ‘advertising’ and ‘communications’ labels.

Outright winner of the ranking, for the second year running, was product development company Planet Innovation, taking out three categories. Its hero program is a groundbreaking test for infectious diseases.

Agency group M&C Saatchi Group was named the most innovative communications company and the sixth most innovative company overall, rising from 18th place in last year’s list.

“M&C Saatchi Group has gone through rapid change,” says CEO Jaimes Leggett. “This is largely driven by the re-articulation of our vision: to be the most influential creative company in Australia by 2020. To deliver on this vision, we’ve built a group of companies with best-in-class capabilities designed to connect with a consumer at every point they encounter a brand. And invariably innovation has been a big part of that. We no longer just create communications. The M&C Saatchi Group of the future has a laser precision view of the customer experience. And we’re building our brands around that.”

The agency’s ‘Game of Balls’ campaign was awarded the best CSR/social innovation. It has reached over 60 million people, and involved collaborating with one of the largest adult entertainment studios in the world to include a health message in their biggest release of the year, a porn parody of Game of Thrones.

One of the company’s biggest clients, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, was ranked third, also rising dramatically from last year.

New entrant Leo Burnett Sydney placed 14th, a year after embarking on a transformation strategy focused on innovation. The company implemented innovation-first processes and programs, restructured its business model and fostered a culture that delivers innovative solutions to complex business problems.

“We have evolved into a creative solutions company and have created an environment and business that ensures we will remain not only relevant, but at the forefront, in a rapidly changing industry,” says Pete Bosilkovski, CEO, Leo Burnett Sydney.

“The new connected economy is creating exciting new opportunities for our business. We have invested a lot of our money and time talking to consumers to understand new behaviours and tensions. As we learn more about these behaviours, we’ve become unrelenting in our ambition to create and unlock ground breaking new user experience ecosystems and products for our clients’ businesses.”

The company has executed ideas such as Samsung brainBAND, new Bundaberg Rum RTD product, the Just product line for WWF and the world’s first VR birth for Samsung. It’s also formed strategic partnerships with Google and Facebook.

Clemenger BBDO Melbourne fell to 43rd on the list after placing 14th in 2015.

Professional services firms PwC and Deloitte were ranked 12 and 18, respectively.

The top 25 of the Financial Review 2016 Most Innovative Companies (2015 rank)

  1. Planet Innovation (1),
  2. Ivy College (4),
  3. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (15),
  4. Sendle (new),
  5. Dyesol (new),
  6. M&C Saatchi Group (18),
  7. AbbVie Australia (21),
  8. Claim Central Consolidated (new),
  9. CSIRO (new),
  10. CSBP Limited (new),
  11. Smartgroup Corporation (new),
  12. PwC Australia (new),
  13. Employsure (new),
  14. Leo Burnett Sydney (new),
  15. hipages (new),
  16. ITL Limited (new),
  17. Thycon (24),
  18. Deloitte (30),
  19. ThinkPlace (new),
  20. InfoTrack (new),
  21. UHG (41),
  22. Landgate (new),
  23. Pact Group (38),
  24. TAL Services Ltd (new), and
  25. Cure Brain Cancer Foundation (new).



Learn how Australian businesses are embracing the methods and mindsets of start-ups and incubator programs to innovate and future-proof themselves against disruption. The Marketing Pro trend briefing ‘Incubate to Innovate’ features the expertise of BlueChilli, KPMG, TNS, Artesian Capital, Ogilvy Ventures, RMIT, GE, Unilever, Bain & Co and more. Learn more »

Peter Roper

Editor of Marketing and Marketing Mag from 2013 to 2017. Tweets as @pete_arrr.

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