Creative ranking 2023: Ruf Lanz takes the crown

The Zurich boutique agency Ruf Lanz wins the traditional creative ranking. In 2005, they were already in first place, then in the top 5 for almost 20 years. Now the agency wants to withdraw from the award hype.

After countless awards, Markus Ruf and Danielle Knecht Lanz are saying goodbye to many festivals, but not to their passionate creative work. (Image: zVg. Ruf Lanz)

Ruf Lanz has always been between 3rd and 2nd place since I started writing and managing the creative rankings - in other words, always reliably brilliant. But this year, the boutique agency with its eight employees takes the crown. 1st place.

This is not the first time that the agency has been at the top, as was the case in 2005. 36 points behind Wirz, Ruf Lanz has now made itself comfortable on the creative throne again after so many years with 399 points. With excellent work for long-standing customers and new clients such as Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Vegipionier Hiltl, VBZ, Welti-Furrer Fine Art Transport, Arud Center for Addiction Medicine and the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention (BFU), Ruf Lanz has been able to win national and international awards. Markus Ruf is very grateful to his "dedicated team", but also to his customers, and is visibly touched. So much heart and soul goes into the work, he says, and this is also needed to package ideas into messages so surprisingly that the audience really wants to see them and appreciates them.

The top 5 2023: Ruf Lanz takes the top spot with a gap of 36 points, ahead of Wirz, who take 2nd place. Team Farner is in 3rd place, 4th place goes to Thjnk, and 5th place is secured by the film production company Stories. (Graphic: m&k Werbewoche.ch)

An end to the hype

As early as December, before m&k advertisingweek.ch started this year's creative ranking process, the agency decided to say goodbye to the award hype from 2024. "Our hunger for awards has been satisfied," summarizes Markus Ruf. On the international stage, the agency will continue to break the odd Lanz(e) with selected works such as "Lürzers Archive Best Advertising Worldwide". The fact that Ruf Lanz is now saying goodbye with a first placement is, of course, the perfect departure.

Just a few of the many excellent Ruf-Lanz campaigns: For Museum Haus Konstruktiv, VBZ, Welti-Furrer Fine Art, the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention (BFU) and Hiltl. (Pictures: zVg.)

Wirz takes 2nd place

Wirz takes second place in the district ranking with 363 points. There is joy at Uetlibergstrasse 134b about the podium position. The agency was in 4th place in 2021, then forgot to enter in 2022 for unspecified reasons, and in 2023 the agency is on the podium. It is both an incentive and confirmation, says Caspar Heuss, Executive Creative Director and Senior Partner at Wirz. "We will continue to devote all our creative energy to making our clients successful. Above all in the market, but also at award shows if desired." Heuss explains that Wirz's customers know that Wirz does not create ideas in order to win prizes. "They know that our ideas solve problems and achieve goals. That creates trust. That leads to courage. And that ultimately leads to prizes."

For the current year, Wirz hopes that award shows and creative rankings will finally be given the status they deserve: namely not a particularly high one. In 2024, a good agency will no longer be recognized by whether it wins a lot of awards, but by the fact that it ensures growth for its clients, says Heuss. "And if it wins a few prizes along the way, all the better."

Wirz's recruitment stunt in Berlin (left) generated a lot of press, both in Berlin and here in Switzerland. The Oui/Non campaign for Migros was one of the most important campaigns in the industry in 2023. And together with Switzerland Tourism, Wirz was able to score points with Roger Federer and Hollywood star Anne Hathaway. (Pictures: zVg.)

Team Farner in 3rd place

Team Farner is highly satisfied with 3rd place and the 262 points gained. They have been working their way towards the top since 2020. Team Farner realizes projects for brands, companies and politics at seven locations across the country - with 300 experts in all communication disciplines. With the acquisition of agencies such as Rod, Blue Glass, Yoveo, Jim&Jim, Affective Advisory and Semsea, Team Farner has constantly brought new expertise on board in recent years.

Philipp Skrabal, Partner & Chief Creative Officer at Team Farner, summarizes the development as follows: "What we started with the establishment of Team Farner around twelve years ago has developed into a successful Swiss model. We have now been building this model in Europe for two years. The international exchange is very inspiring." When asked about Team Farner's USP, Skrabal elaborates a little. "Here you work with experts from all areas of communication as a matter of course. As a creative, it can quickly happen that you work on an idea with public affairs, corp. com or behavioral science people. This interdisciplinary proximity creates something new and makes our clients' communication more stringent and effective.

When he thinks back to customer meetings in the past year, the topic of creativity has become more of a focus again, says Skrabal. He cites the "cookie-stalking era", which is coming to an end, as the reason for this. The creative is certain that relevant content and creativity still attract the most attention. He has not made any specific resolutions for 2024; his main focus remains on creating exceptional communication solutions with joy and ambition. He wants to pass this enthusiasm on to others.

Team Farner has scored both nationally and internationally with campaigns for OceanCare, Al Mulinetto and SBB. (Pictures: zVg.)

Thjnk slips from rank 1 to 4

Last year, Thjnk was the clear winner in the Krearanking. This year's 4th place with the accompanying 195 points naturally does not meet the agency's expectations, says Alexander Jaggy, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Thjnk. But in view of the turbulent year, it is understandable and not surprising. He goes on to explain what turbulence he is referring to: "2023 was a defining year for our agency with the demise of Credit Suisse in the spring and winning the Swiss mandate in the fall. Such massive turnarounds rarely happen in the same financial year. Despite this entrepreneurial tour de force, we managed to produce some great creative highlights for Ochsner Sport, Denner and Migros. That makes us incredibly proud.

Career changer stories

With 5th place and 177 points, the film production Stories achieved a surprise. Tobi Fueter, co-founder and director of Stories, has mixed feelings: "It's kind of like we cheated: Firstly, this place actually belongs to an agency and not a film production, and secondly, we owe the place solely to our high-flyer NZZ. We were lucky that NZZ only wanted an online moving image film and we were therefore allowed to be involved in the creative process right from the start. This was an unconventional and courageous step on the part of NZZ. We saw this particular challenge as a great opportunity. We are of course delighted with the great honor of being among the top 5 in the ranking, but we are even more pleased with the successful film. "Wenn die Debatte verstummt" by Stories for the "Neue Zürcher Zeitung" won national and international awards in 2023. When asked about the current year and how we could top that, Fueter says: "Our wish has already come true with a project in a similar form for this year." Congratulations and we are already looking forward to the Krearanking 2024.

Ranks 6 to 10

Ranks 6 to 10 are also high-caliber. 6th place goes to TBWA with 141 points. CCO Manuel Wenzel sums it up as follows: "2023 was good, even if we slipped down one place. We try to develop further every year and explore new, bolder and, above all, many different paths with our clients. In our view, we have succeeded in doing this. We were able to score points in categories such as product design, brand experience and social as well as in perhaps more traditional advertising agency categories. In 2024, we naturally hope to climb closer to the top again. But we are pleased with how our ranking came about, just like in previous years, namely with a lot of very different and effective work for our major clients."

7th place goes to the Freundliche Grüsse agency. With 130 points, they are only 11 points behind TBWA. Samuel Textor, Founder/Creative Director, summarizes the result. "From 10th place to 7th place: we are happy with that - a nice present for our 10th anniversary. If you look at the size of the agency - we are 15 people - in comparison to the number of points, we see ourselves even further ahead. But 7th place also shows that there is still room for improvement - and that remains an incentive." The year 2023 was challenging in many respects. On the one hand, the global and economic situation contributed to customers understandably not wanting to take any risks. On the other hand, the agency noticed that the key topics of sustainability and society were in high demand in communications. This presented a wide range of opportunities for creative solutions, which Freundliche Grüsse made good use of.

With 98 points, Foundry landed in 8th place. Sacha Moser, Founder and Creative Partner, expressed his delight: "We are delighted and take this as an incentive. The symbolism of the '8' as a sign of infinity reinforces our ambition to be a regular presence in the ranking and to become a recurring top 10. As newcomers, we take our hats off to all the legendary names that have been regularly at the top of the table for years. 2023 has had its challenges, but what year hasn't? In our industry, we are always at the forefront of change and innovation. Because problems, coupled with optimism, are the parents of creativity. Agility, creativity and openness to new things is what drives us every day. We are at the beginning every day and our goal is to deliver the most innovative and best creative solutions.

The company ON ranked 9th with 66 points. No statement could be obtained from ON by the editorial deadline. Finally, 10th place was snatched by the Zurich agency Wundermann Thompson with 60 points. Swen Morath, Co-CEO and Chief Creative Officer, says: "We were (happily) surprised to see that in the end we just made it into the top 10 of the creative ranking. Congratulations to all the top 10 agencies for their creative achievements and especially to the new number 1 Ruf Lanz. To have been among the most creative agencies in Switzerland continuously since 2001 is unique and deserves our utmost respect!"

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