On Top of the World: The 2023 Country Rankings
By Brett McKenzie on Jan 04, 2024
Exploring the work from the Top 10 countries from the 2023 Global Rankings
Happy New Year, everybody! What better way to kick off 2024 than to look back at the year that just finished, courtesy of our highly anticipated Global Creative Rankings. These rankings were officially released today and are a fantastic way to see where every agency, studio, creative, and brand stands on the global stage.
This year is the first time that the Art Directors Club of Europe Awards has been added to the rankings, joining ONE Asia Creative Awards on the regional tier, with The One Show, the ADC Annual Awards, and the TDC Awards on the global tier, and our Denver, Miami, and San Diego chapters operating on a more local scale.
How does adding ADCE’s European excellence shake up our annual look at the country rankings? After all, every winner, from the biggest agency in town to a single scrappy freelancer, affects a country’s score on the Global Rankings, and sometimes it only takes a few points to move a country up or down the list. ADCE — and, for that matter, ONE Asia — means more opportunities for countries to rack up points.
Enough with the preamble — let’s dive into this year’s results!
#1. UNITED STATES
LAST YEAR: #1, —
The sheer scope and influence of the American advertising and design industries make the United States pretty much a perennial lock on the top spot of this list; after all, it’s where the literal Madison Avenue that lends its name to the business can be found. And with that size comes an awe-inspiring amount of talent — US companies and individuals aren’t just winning a massive number of shiny trophies, but said trophies are often of the golden variety, allowing them to run up the score.
Case in point: the two most awarded campaigns across all of our competitions — DDB’s “Chillboards” for Coors Light and FCB New York’s “McEnroe vs. McEnroe” for Michelob ULTRA — picked up an astonishing 12 Gold Pencils, 11 Gold Cubes, four Best of Discipline honors, and the coveted ADC Designism Cube, The rest of the world may scoff at American beer, but American beer advertising? DDB and FCB have taken it to whole new levels of ingenuity.
But American shops didn’t have to be big to win big. Brooklyn-based design studio Morcos Key shined brightly in TDC69, winning Best of Discipline in Typography for “I WANT SKY,” a newsprint of poetry honoring the life of Egyptian queer activist Sarah Hegazy. And while we’re at it, let’s turn the world’s eyes to the Mile High State, where Sukie Advertising & Design won Best of Show at this year’s One Club Awards Denver for “Hairy Times,” a funny PSA for the Wyoming Department of Health.
LAST YEAR: #5, +3
In a year when the addition of ADCE rankings gave European agencies a newfound edge, leave it to the Canadians to make their biggest play yet, moving up three spots and into the #2 position for the first time in the history of the rankings!
On the heels of a greater national awareness of the lives of the country’s indigenous population, Canada’s agencies and studios have been producing some genuinely profound work in this sphere. BBDO Canada and TA2 Music teamed up with Muskrat Magazine to create “Missing Matoaka,” a haunting reimagining of the Disneyfied version of Pocahontas. “Missing Matoaka" earned a phenomenal nine Gold Pencils and two Best of Disciplines at The One Show 2023 and helped BBDO win a Canadian One Show first: Agency of the Year.
Alao addressing indigenous issues, Vancouver-based director Amar Chebib won an ADC Motion & Film Craft Gold Cube for “Joe Buffalo,” a documentary on the acclaimed skateboarder and survivor of Canada’s notorious Indian Residential School system.
Other notable Canadian winners include “The Black Elevation Map” by Toronto’s Performave Art for Black & Abroad, which won three Gold Pencils, two Gold Cubes, a One Show Best of Discipline, and an ADC Fusion Cube. And in “la belle province,” Montreal’s Principal won TDC’s Best of Discipline in Lettering for its beautiful poster for the Jardins de Métis.
Congratulations, Canada! It’s an incredible accomplishment to reach the #2 spot in these Global Rankings, but now that you’ve finally had a taste of it, we’re sure you’ll be hungry to hang on.
LAST YEAR: #4, +1
Germany has always placed exceedingly high on the Global Rankings list — they’ve never finished outside of the Top 5 — and its dominance in this year’s ADCE Awards has ensured another stellar year, moving up a notch over 2022 to find itself at #3.
Among this year’s German standouts is Serviceplan, whose Munich office worked alongside their Seoul counterparts to develop and promote Dot Inc’s “Dot Pad,” the first tactile graphic display for the visually impaired. “Dot Pad” won three Gold Pencils, two Gold Cubes, an ADC Best of Discipline for Product Design, and the coveted Fusion Cube. Serviceplan also won a Gold Pencil and an ADCE Gold for “Dot Go,” another project for Dot Inc.
Other highlights include Accenture Song Germany flipping the apparel industry around with ekn footwear’s Gold Cube-winning “Designed in Bangladesh, Made in Europe.” Innocean opened many eyes at the ADCE Awards with the provocative “The Vulva Spaceship,” winning two Golds and the competition’s Equal Star honor. And Germany as a whole shined at TDC — they were the second-ranked country in that particular competition, with Rimini Berlin’s “Schriftmeisterinnen (Type Design Masters)” for MKG Hamburg being a colorful highlight.
#4. UNITED KINGDOM
LAST YEAR: #2, -2
The UK may have dropped down two spots this year to #4, but the sun never truly sets on the Brits — they’ve been in the Top 5 every year since the rankings began.
And honestly, how could they not be, with the spectacular work that is consistently created by this country? Apple’s London team blew everyone away with “The Greatest,” a powerful spot highlighting their products’ many accessibility features. This in-house gem won six Pencils, a Best of Discipline honor, and at the end of The One Show’s milestone 50th-anniversary ceremony, it took home Best of Show, which was accepted by one of the ad’s inspiring stars.
One of the UK highlights from the ADC side of the rankings was Alex Hunting Studio’s Gold-Cube-winning third issue of Kindling Magazine. At the same time, over in TDC-land, The Northern Block’s calligraphy-inspired Fagun typeface made it into the competition’s annual. And, of course, you would expect the UK to stand out on the European stage, and Havas London did just that with ASDA’s “The Real Self Checkout,” which earned Gold at ADCE.
LAST YEAR: #3, -2
After reaching its highest-ever position on the Global Rankings last year, China has slipped two spots to #5. Still, this is the country’s fifth consecutive year in the Top 10 — a feat made all the more remarkable because it has done so without dominating in the ONE Asia Creative Awards in recent years.
In The One Show, TBWA’s Beijing and Shanghai offices won a Gold Pencil and a Best of Discipline in Social Media for its totally bonkers “Nothing But Sheer Joy” Lunar New Year ad for BMW. Shenzhen-based Shaobin + Linshaobin was awarded an ADC Gold Cube and a TDC nod for its beautiful Buddyrich Coffee packaging design, and Beijing-based designer Shihong Chen drew the attention of the TDC judges with “Nature Loves to Hide” for Hanyu Cui & IS A GALLERY. These are three wonderful examples of how China continues to raise the bar on the world stage.
This isn’t to say that China is absent from ONE Asia; Ogilvy Hong Kong was awarded the Gold for “Undercover,” created for Women Helping Women Asia. But if China were to excel in this competition as much as they do in the global ones, we’ll definitely be seeing them move back up the rankings.
LAST YEAR: #6, —
They say three is the magic number, but we think it might be #6 for our friends in France. This is the fourth year in a row that the country has found itself in this spot on the Global Rankings. Vive la consistence!
This year, French agencies were big on using digital spaces to draw attention to important issues. BETC Paris’ “Gender Swap” hacked video games for Women In Games, winning four Gold Pencils and a Best of Discipline in The One Show. Havas Play also hacked a video game, this time for animal protection NGO La SPA. “Adopt a Mod” won two ADC Silver Cubes and two One Show Bronze Pencils. And TBWA\Paris brought the issue of homelessness into the metaverse for the charity Entourage, winning a trifecta of Gold, Silver, and Bronze Pencils.
Now, not every French win took place on a digital field. Paris-based type designer and art director Daytona Mess wowed the TDC judges with the Lithops Display Typeface, created with Velvetyne Type Foundry and Jérémy Landes.
Congratulations to all of our French winners for holding onto the #6 spot yet again! Hmm, we wonder if doing it a fifth year will qualify the country for a Penta Pencil?
LAST YEAR: #16, +9
Well, well, well, look who’s back around these parts! After dropping off the Top 10 list in 2022, Australia makes a triumphant return, leapfrogging (kangarooing?) nine spots up to #7, the biggest jump on the list.
A significant part of the Australian success story was The Monkeys and their incredible endeavor with the Government of Tuvalu, transforming the country emperiled by climate change into “The First Digital Nation.” This groundbreaking project won a Gold Pencil and Best of Discipline in The One Show, but in even bigger news, it took home two Golds, two Best of Disciplines, and Australia’s first-ever Best of Show in ONE Asia.
Also in cross-competition glory, CHEP Network won three Golds and two Best of Disciplines in ONE Asia and a One Show Gold Pencil for Samsung’s “Flipvertising,” and Tinkerbell took home a Gold Pencil and an ADC Silver Cube for Furphy’s “What The Truck?!” Meanwhile, Google Brand Studio won a Gold Cube for “Project Skate” in ADC’s burgeoning Artificial Intelligence discipline.
Alas, not everything is bonza in the land Down Under. Australia is the only country in the Top 10 to not have any TDC wins. Come on, Australia! We know you have world-class typographic and lettering talent — Young Guns and Ascenders winner Gemma O’Brien immediately springs to mind — you just need to get some points on the board!
LAST YEAR: #9, +1
Japan moves up one position to a comfortable #8 spot in the Global Rankings. The country has always been in the Top 10, and it’s pretty easy to see why: consistently beautiful design across the board, no matter the agency, studio, or brand.
Speaking of beautiful design, how about a reimaging of public restrooms in Toyko’s Shibuya ward, courtesy of the Nippon Foundation? “The Tokyo Toilet” won a One Show Gold Pencil in Design.
That attention to beauty also extends into TDC, where Seibido displayed its 125-year publishing legacy with “A Mountain of History,” featuring the importance of the printed page in a world of digital content consumption. It’s only fitting that this project was included in TDC’s physical printed annual.
Dentsu is a perennial powerhouse in many competitions, and 2023 continued that trend. Their “Voice Watch” project, in partnership with the Toyota Mobility Foundation, earned an ADC Gold Cube on its way to winning the first-ever Best of Discipline honor for Artificial Intelligence,
Finally, Japan also made a significant impact in ONE Asia. “A Train of Memories” is Six Inc. and Hakuhodo’s love story to railed travel, courtesy of Sotetsu. The spot won two Gold honors and two Best of Disciplines, earning Japan enough points on its own to make that move into #8 on the Global Rankings.
LAST YEAR: #7, -2
There almost couldn’t be a Top 10 list without Brazil in the mix, and thankfully, despite dropping two positions since 2022, they’re still keeping all eyes on Latin America, thanks to some fantastically quirky work.
Wieden+Kennedy São Paulo invites us into a playful “Spriteverse,” a colorful reprieve from the mundane. This animated project earned the agency a One Show Gold Pencil for Moving Image Craft. Meanwhile, it’s pretty much a given that somebody somewhere in the world is making top-level work for Burger King, and this time it’s DAVID, who turned video game glitches into a wild and zany promotion that won them a Gold Pencil. They also did the same with the TikTok-flavored “Duet Delivery,” proving that while DAVID’s Whoppers may be moldy, their ideas are as fresh as ever.
Keeping things whimsical, “Planeta Compartido” is a colorful poster illustration created by Fabrizio for Centro Cultural Recoleta, which won an ADC Bronze Cube. Meanwhile, Goiânia’s BRBAUEN developed a logotype for startup telco brand Nomo that the TDC judges simply loved.
LAST YEAR: #8, -2
Rounding out the Top 10 for 2023 is India, who dropped two positions from the year before. That year had seen the country jump up a dramatic 20 spots; staying near the top proves that India’s 2022 wasn’t just a stroke of luck.
The biggest win out of India for 2023 was Leo Burnett’s “Airtel 175.” which recreated arguably the most important match in all of cricketdom. This awe-inspiring use of technology won two Golds and two Best of Disciplines in ONE Asia. Leo Burnett also wowed with “The Missing Chapter,” a campaign for P&G Whisper that helps teach girls sheltered from information about the onset of puberty. This impactful and wonderfully illustrated project won two One Show Gold Pencils. A third One Show Gold Pencil was awarded to DDB Mudra for “A Silent Frown,” which was created for the Charlie Chaplin Foundation.
India will also be well-represented in the latest TDC Annual, thanks in part to “Mangosteen,” a feel-good, high-contrast type design created by Ek Type in Mumbai.
The one area that may be preventing India from rising higher up the list is ADC; the country hasn’t won a single Gold Cube since TBWA did in 2020 and only mustered a lone Illustration Merit in 2023, courtesy of Noethi. We know that the work that won such high praise in The One Show, TDC, and ONE Asia this year would also be Cube-worthy if only they’d start aiming for the Top 5 countries in the world and not just the Top 10.
Now with the land Down Under returning to the Top 10 this year, that means that another country unfortunately gives up their spot on this list. This time, that unfortunate distinction goes to Colombia, which fell from #10 in 2022 to #29 in 2023.
But make no mistake: Colombia still had some noteworthy wins across The One Club’s three main competitions. DDB Colombia scored a Gold Pencil in the Social Media discipline for Poker Beer’s “Influencers’ Friends,” while Ogilvy Bogotá won a Direct Marketing Gold Pencil for “The Fresh System,” created for Cerulla. “Girls Define Girl” by MullenLowe SSP3 for Pony Malta was recognized by both The One Show and the ADC Awards, and “Brigada,” a typeface by Sumotype Foundry, caught the attention of both the TDC and ADC judges. This all goes to show you that we are confident that we’ll see Colombia rising the global ranks very, very soon.
It’s also interesting to see how many countries are in the “Next 10” due to strong showings in their respective regions. For instance, Italy is ranked at #13, with more than half of their points stemming from their outstanding results in the ADCE Awards, including Leo Burnett’s Best of Show-winning “No Grey” for Fiat. And then there’s Philippines at #19 with almost all of their points coming from an amazing showing at ONE Asia, including three separate Best of Discipline wins for Leo Burnett and their “Unbranded Menu” for McDonald’s. The lesson to be learned here is that these regional shows matter to anybody looking to move up the ranks.
And finally, let’s not overlook the impact of TDC. It’s not as flashy as The One Show or ADC, and ad agencies might even think there isn’t a place for what they do in a typography and lettering competition. But the vast majority of your work — heck, the majority of your everyday life — features some sort of type or script, and there’s a home for that in this global show. And if it weren’t for their strong showings in TDC this past year, Germany, China, and France would’ve fallen in the Top 10 rankings, and India would’ve dropped out of the Top 10 altogether. Oh, and did you know that TDC70 is open for entries at this very moment?