Creative Ranking 2021: Rosemarie brings CRK victory

The CRK agency gets off to a rocket start in this year's creative rankings - and catapults itself to first place with an emotional advertising film. Last year's winner Jung von Matt Limmat withdraws, Ruf Lanz remains constant, Publicis moves up.

Kreativranking 2021
The short film "Das bewegte Leben der Rosemarie" (The eventful life of Rosemarie) won several competitions and brought the agency CRK the victory in the creative ranking. (Image: zVg)

The shooting star of 2021 is CRK. The "Boutique Agency of the Year" scored particularly well in 2021 with the emotional short film "The eventful life of Rosemarie" from the "Make a career as a human being" campaign. Commissioned by Curaviva Switzerland, Spitex Switzerland and OdASanté, this campaign aimed to strengthen careers in long-term care and support the recruitment of professionals. The award-winning film portrays Rosemarie's life journey - her experiences in the war, pain of separation and joy of reunion until the moment she tells her story to Livio, who studies nursing and takes care of her.

Christian Bircher, who was responsible for the film as creative director, is proud. "The opportunity to realize a story in this format for an image campaign doesn't come along every day. Our submission budget was limited, unlike the international agencies, and so we submitted Rosemarie very specifically in the art direction and animation categories." Nevertheless, the "Four Friends" for the SFOE campaign "Renewable Heating" and the Pro-Infirmis campaign #WieDuUndIch were also submitted occasionally, which earned additional points in the ranking, Bircher explains. (see interview on Werbewoche.ch).

Leading the creative rankings in 2021: The CRK team. (Image: zVg.)

Rank 2 to 5

Second place goes to Ruf Lanz. One could casually write, "again" or "usual brilliant", but this would not really depict what creative force emanates from this boutique agency. It is by no means normal that Ruf Lanz has been moving so consistently in the thin air of the best for 20 years - they celebrated their anniversary last year. Markus Ruf sums up his second place in the rankings as follows: "Nobody waited for a campaign. It needs an idea that packages the message in such a surprising way that the audience wants to hear it." And the agency, which comprises eight creative minds, has succeeded in this for years with a consistency that is second to none. Outstanding campaigns for which it rained awards included "Tier im Recht," "Welti-Furrer Fine Art Transport" and "Kein Tier im Visier 2." Further statements give call on Advertisingweek.ch.

Publicis/Notch has catapulted from 7th to 3rd place. Notch has been operating under the Publicis Group umbrella for two years, and together they have produced excellent campaigns in 2021, most notably with Migros specialty stores' video advice, Migros' neighborhood help Amigos and UBS Helpetica. "This year has confirmed two things for us," says Publicis Zurich CEO Matthias Koller. "First, that Publicis Zurich stands for creativity that tackles and moves. And second, that with Notch we offer creativity that connects people and brands with design and innovative technology. When it comes to awarding prizes for this concentrated creativity at award shows, it is clear to us that we only submit real campaigns for real clients. No award ideas, no idea without a brief."

Fourth place goes to Wirz, who paused last year and the year before last. Of course, not in the creative work, but in the submission to competitions. Now they are back in the ranking and stable in 4th place, as they were before the break (see graphic). Wirz has won awards in 2021 with many works; at ADC Switzerland alone, the agency won silver five times with five different campaigns. For Wirz, submitting to ADC Switzerland is above all a commitment to Switzerland as a creative location. Wirz co-CEOs Livio Dainese and Petra Dreyfus see the investment in the submission fee as promoting young talent. "Internationally, we now only submit work that we are really proud of, even if we don't win anything with it," says Dainese. This year, that was the Swiss tourism spot "No Drama" starring Robert de Niro and Roger Federer.

TBWA\Zurich had fallen out of the top 10 last year, ECD Manuel Wenzel explained it this way: "We decided on an award stop pretty much at the beginning of the Covid story, as part of a series of measures we initiated to secure jobs for our people." Apparently a good decision, because this year they're back with a vengeance, knocking agency Havas out of 5th place. Wenzel is particularly proud that TBWA won awards in a wide variety of disciplines, with seven different pieces of work for five clients. His personal highlight of 2021, he said, was the Tesla targeting that TBWA developed for Porsche, because it was a very different kind of idea, a creative agency's disruptive response to the data and performance hype.

The Top 5 2021: CRK takes the top spot, followed by Ruf Lanz. Publicis/Notch takes 3rd place ahead of Wirz. After a break, TBWA fights its way into 5th place (Image: Editor).

Place 6 to 10

6th place in the creative rankings this year was conquered by the agency Inhalt und Form. Karin Estermann, ECD and partner, is proud that the agency could fully count on the team in such challenging times. This resulted in great campaigns, which led to satisfied customers and also to awards. For example, for Aldi Suisse, Carl F. Bucherer, EI Tony and Caotina. Dominik Stibal, CEO and partner, is particularly proud of the "Züribrätt". A self-initiative of the employees of Inhalt und Form, which brought the bar and club life of Zurich into the warm room during the lockdown in the form of a board game. "This allowed us to collect not only several prizes at various award shows, but also over 70,000 Swiss francs, which benefited the Bar & Club Komission Zürich," says Stibal. He added that the "iundf family," consisting of Content and Form, iundf Marketing Technology, and iundf Media Impact, continued to grow in 2021 and was able to expand its client portfolio. "A good sign that the realignment we embarked on five years ago is bearing fruit," says Dominik Stibal.

Although pushed down from 5th to 7th place by Inhalt und Form, Havas has remained stable in the top 10 of the creative rankings for years. Patrick Beeli, CD of Havas Zurich, sees the future of the creative industry as challenging. Ideas have become part of a complex system, he says. The challenge will be to optimally combine creativity and customer-centricity. These should not be mutually exclusive. Gabriel Mauron, CD of Havas Geneva, adds that the right creative strategy, coupled with good entertainment, will enable customers to have an even more meaningful experience.

The Farner Group has worked its way up from 10th to 8th place. Although the creative ranking is very much of significance as an incentive for the industry, Philipp Skrabal emphasizes that the agency did not focus on it in 2021 either. This, he says, is because the significance in terms of the agencies' effective creative performance is distorted. The CCO and partner of the Farner Group sums it up like this: "We are proud of our ranking. Creativity remains match-decisive - in everyday professional life, however, it shows a much more multifaceted face than depicted in this ranking."

Wunderman Thompson remains stable in ninth place. Swen Morath, Co-CEO and CCO, says: "Due to the still tense economic situation in Switzerland, we made significantly fewer submissions than usual in 2021. But it was important to us to submit at least one case for every local award that took place, in order to support the organizers somewhat. We are particularly pleased to have made it into the top 10 of the creative rankings."

Rank 10 this year goes to Dept Agency. Michael Volkart, Founder and Partner, felt that 2021 was very special. He said it marked the launch of Dept as a holistic digital agency in Switzerland. "With the rebranding of Hinderling Volkart to Dept, we can now unite under one brand umbrella what we had been offering and successfully pitching together in Switzerland in the areas of creation and performance for quite some time," Volkart said.

And Jung von Matt Limmat?

The last year's winner Jung von Matt Limmat is missing from this year's creative rankings. The agency has been pursuing a reduced award strategy since 2021 and consistently invests the freed-up resources in promoting young talent. For this reason, the agency has decided not to participate in the 2021 creative ranking.


Dhe Swiss Creative Ranking has been conducted and published annually by Werbewoche since 2002. Following the merger of m&k and Werbewoche.ch, the ranking has been published in the print edition of m&k and online at Werbewoche.ch since 2022. It maps the agencies' performance in national and international competitions. The rules - i.e. which awards may be credited and with what weighting - are determined by ADC Switzerland in consultation with the leading agencies. The last rule adjustment took place on the occasion of a so-called "elephant round" in 2017. 

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