Best Digital Services


Sparro’s ‘Expect More’ philosophy has seen the eight-year-old business expand into full digital media, content strategy and e-commerce consulting. 

It is currently Australia’s largest independent digital agency by Google Ads spend, and has doubled to a 70-person strong team since August last year. 

Sparro drives the most value for clients ‘before and after the click’ through market insights, audience/data research and segmentation, creative excellence, conversion optimisation, marketing automation, visualisation and customer retention campaigns. 

The agency aims to be an innovative trailblazer in redefining marketing in a cookie-less, data-fragmented world, and is leading the charge to invest in building creative services, full-funnel media, and further data projects. 

Over the past year, Sparro has won a string of new business including accounts with Gumtree, Camilla, The Star, Dymocks, Oz Hair & Beauty, JDRF and Schneider Electric. 

Research Agency


Despite the pandemic, Fiftyfive5 managed to have a huge year. The agency adapted and excelled, creating researched-based results. 

For Fiftyfive5, the pandemic meant that the average project size decreased by 11 per cent in 2021. So, the agency had to drive growth by winning more jobs – the number of projects it delivered grew 31 per cent, and its pitch success rate for the year was 88 per cent.  

Knowing the government would need to increase spend in 2020/21, Fiftyfive5 set the challenge to its social and government team to take an unfair share. Ultimately, this led to building an insight program to inform the national COVID-19 vaccine rollout, co-designing the future of healthcare in Australia, and becoming the NSW Government’s preferred research partner during the pandemic. 

Shopper Marketing Agency of the Year

XPO Brands

XPO Brands managed to grow during the pandemic, capitalising off a culture of collaboration to drive results and growth.  

The agency invested in itself during the pandemic, from weekly trivia for staff to innovative technology, and it paid off. This year saw XPO achieve an 87.5 per cent staff retention rate, and 75 per cent of staff received a wage increase as a result of the agency retaining 100 per cent of clients. It also scored eight new ones, including Mars and Bega.

XPO turned Halloween from a social neighbourhood event into a digital experience for Cadbury, and partnered with Golden Circle to add 50 new lifesavers to keep beaches safer. This year was all about XPO delivering for clients in new and exciting ways.  

There were also other wins, with XPO selected to the board of the Shop! Association. The agency also managed to create opportunity from its data innovation, SampleLab, and saw aggressive growth off the back of acquiring BiteMeMedia. 

QLD/Other States/Territories/NZ Agency


Special New Zealand has had a mega-year – its best-ever year, in fact – despite a pesky little thing called COVID-19. It’s not easy being New Zealand’s first-ever global independent network, but Special has managed it with flying colours.  

In May, Special was named global creative agency of the year by Campaign UK, the first time any southern hemisphere-based agency had won the accolade. 

During an incredibly difficult year, Special grew its revenue and its team, all while making award-winning creative. Special’s morals and values, rather than profit, are at its core. 

Nowhere is that clearer than in the agency’s three central beliefs: brave, open and kind. And, in 2021, Special made a commitment to Te Ao Māori, including Te Reo lessons. 

As a bonus, of 13 new business wins, Special only made one pitch. Now that’s impressive! 

VIC Agency

The Monkeys

Amid working from home and the world’s longest lockdown, The Monkeys has had its best year ever, buoyed by provocative thinking and powerful campaigns for some of the nation’s best brands, including Supercheap Auto, David Jones and BCF, to name just a handful. 

This incredible body of work is the result of The Monkeys’ team. Collaboration and agility is at their heart: a commitment of working together to create the best possible work.  

As an agency, it is supporting its communities, both internally and externally. 

For example, The Monkeys has partnered with CareerTrackers to employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students each year, and mentored young women in rural, remote and disadvantaged communities for International Women’s Day. 

To support staff, the agency partnered with and committed to 10 Minimum Mentally Healthy Standards.  

By prioritising culture and incredible work, The Monkeys has had a year like no other, in a year like no other. 

NSW Agency


BMF believes in long ideas in a world of short-term thinking. This year, its work has rested on building long-term memory structures, securing attention for its brands well into the future. 

And the agency has been awarded for it, taking home the Aussie Grand Effie and the APAC Grand Effie for its work. This year, BMF’s client, ALDI, was named Effective Advertiser of the Year for the third year in a row. 

BMF’s work for the Australian government has also included an incredibly powerful domestic violence campaign, “Stop It At The Start”, as well as the "Mental Health Check For The Nation" campaign. 

For BMF, culture is a ‘living thing’. It’s more than just values: it’s what nets in great talent, allows staff to develop, and ultimately, helps improve the industry at large. 

Over this year, BMF has committed to bravery, in its work, through its culture and because of its people. 

Media Agency

OMD Australia

This year is OMD’s 21st birthday and, along with the birthday cake, it is celebrating an unparalleled culture and powerful business success. 

OMD’s ambition is to be known for performance for clients, from its people, always done with integrity. And, if there was any year to put that to the test, 2021 was it. But in the face of an incredibly difficult 12 months, OMD has shone. 

The business has grown, adding 75 new roles, 10 new clients and committing to equality with a Diversity and Inclusion Charter. Plus, 92 per cent of OMD employees say OMD is a great place to work, compared to the Australia wide average of 55 per cent. 

One anonymous OMD-er spoke to how the agency handled this year: “The way our business has been managed through COVID is truly inspirational. I have great respect for our leader and how she has brought us through that difficult period.” 

Performance Agency


Alley is a performance powerhouse driven by the idea that, when you spend money on marketing, you need to make money. Its ultimate goal is client-focused, increasing revenue and profit, delivering unrivalled growth both online and in-store. 

Alley significantly grew results for its clients, increasing revenue and seeing campaign success. 

Looking inwardly, Alley prioritises team building, where cultural fit is essential for new hires. This helps create a cohesive culture and allows the business to thrive. Because it values culture so highly, Alley shares 10 per cent of profits with all staff, creating an entrepreneurial spirit. 

That spirit is clear in Alley’s core value, "stay hungry", which prioritises staff development and training. 

Inclusion is also a priority for the company, including hiring strategies which ensure diverse talent is being reached, as well as flexible working. The result? High staff retention and business success. 

Production Company


With work for Apple, Netflix Korea, NRMA, Bonds and Carlton, Revolver has spent the year creating exceptional work. With production hurdles abounding, Revolver took on the challenges head on and used them to create stunning campaigns. 

One essential factor has been its strong relationships with international production partners, which saw many productions travelling Down Under. Ultimately, Revolver was able to create a slew of incredible work for both local and international clients and agencies. 

Culturally, Revolver prides itself on long-term retention of staff, allowing juniors to flourish and grow into high-level positions during their careers. It also prioritises creating an accommodating environment, particularly for staff with children. 

During an incredibly difficult year for production, Revolver has created a legacy of adaptive, efficient and powerful work. 

PR Agency


Over four years, Thinkerbell has grown to more than 80 people and finessed its work across creative, production and media – but always keeping PR at its core. As put by Thinkerbell, “Advertising is the tax you pay for having an unremarkable product.” Its goal? Earning an “unfair share” of the coverage.  

Thinkerbell’s strategy relies on the two types of people it hires: Thinkers (aka strategy-types) and Tinkers (aka creative/producer-types). The synthesis between those two has helped Thinkerbell develop an impressive agency culture, where cross-pollination of ideas and innovative problem solving abounds. 

And, to help develop that agency culture further, Thinkerbell launched Thrive@55, an internship program aimed at those over age 55 to tackle industry ageism. 

Supportive culture breeds commercial success. With an increase of 44 staff and 11 PR client wins over this year, Thinkerbell shows no sign of slowing its momentum. 

Independent Agency


In what has to be arguably the most hotly contested category in this year’s B&T Awards, Special has been named Independent Agency for 2021 from a host of worthy candidates. 

If you ever needed to see the strength of independent agencies punching well above their weight in Australia’s advertising landscape, look no further than the rude health and impressive number of the indies. 

Special claimed the nod from the judges after a staggering 12 months of work that saw revenue grow 48 per cent and profit up 58 per cent, while staff numbers grew a staggering 69 per cent. 

The highlight of the past 12 months has been the agency’s move to Los Angeles and the global recognition of its award-winning work for Uber Eats. 

Experiential/Promotional Agency


One need only read B&T’s monthly updates of new business wins to know the stellar 2021 enjoyed by the Thinkerbell crew, who have continually dominated the listings. 

Now into its fourth year, the fiercely independent agency boasts a team of 80-strong staffers providing creative, production, media (earned and paid) and PR. With offices in Sydney and Melbourne, Thinkerbell says PR is deeply rooted into all its work and outcomes. 

With a mantra of “advertising is the tax you pay for having an unremarkable product”, the agency has put a spin on the whole meaning of advertising by creating earned ideas, using owned channels and only using paid media as a last resort. 

Emerging Agency


For an agency little more than 18 months old, the team at Akcelo boast some formidable achievements.  

New business alone has seen the team grow from five to 78, and open three offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Vancouver in just its first year of operations. And, let’s not forget, all in a pandemic year, too. 

And the secret to its success? From screens to spaces, Akcelo creates emotional connections across the entire customer journey.

To date, the company boasts clients the likes of Lego, McDonald’s, Woolworths, Netflix, Lion and PepsiCo on its books.  

And its huge ambition is seen in the agency’s mantra: “Shake up the industry and inspire a new generation of new-world agencies to dethrone the big holding companies!” 

Branding, Design & CX Agency


What makes Special so hot isn’t simply its world-class and world-famous work for Uber Eats. Underpinning the agency is also a dedication to branding, design and customer experience that’s intertwined in all its work. 

With some 140 staff (60 per cent female), Special boasts a flotilla of top-flight clients on the books that include ANZ Bank, Bonds, Jaguar, Kathmandu, RM Williams and Afterpay. 

At the heart of the work is a mantra of bravery.

“Bravery is embedded in everything we do,” the agency says. 

“Our independent business model is brave, our work is brave and our culture is brave. We take chances which give us the opportunity to create greatness, which also means sometimes giving each other permission to fail and learn.” 

Advertising Agency of the Year


Famed for its Uber Eats work, Special would like you to know it’s a whole lot more than that. The past 12 months saw some significant wins for the agency, with the highly-prized AUNZ business at the top of the list. 

Special’s trophy cabinet may be groaning under the weight of B&T Awards, but the agency was also named the world’s best creative and indie agency by one of the world’s most prestigious advertising titles – the UK’s Campaign – in May of this year. 

As testament to the agency’s work and culture, Special – despite the pandemic – has reported it grew its staff base by a whopping 69 per cent over the past 12 months, while its design team doubled in that time. 

The agency said it “excelled by sticking to [its] guiding values of being open, kind and brave” not considering the “most testing conditions” thrown at it by COVID.