SA has sneaked into the top 25 of the latest Gunn Media 100 list of the world’s best campaigns for media excellence, with 23rd spot.

The list ranks the world’s most awarded campaigns and agencies based on their performance in media competitions around the world.

Notes one local strategic director: "In many ways this is the list all agencies strive or should strive to be on, given that it evaluates the real-time performance of our output in terms of sales and brand awareness."

One of the campaigns that propelled SA to a top 25 position for 2017 was for Distell’s Amarula liqueur brand. Called "Name them save them" the ad personalises the prospect of losing an African elephant by inviting people to name surviving African elephants. It was conceptualised and executed by Cape Town-based agency Liquorice (which is part of DigitasLBi, the world’s largest digital network) in association with the FCB agency.

Liquorice is also the best performing local shop on the Gunn rankings, with a second campaign for Unilever, called uGive.

Speaking after last year’s Bookmarks Awards for digital marketing, Liquorice founder Miles Murphy said the Amarula campaign demonstrated how an immersive 3D experience could drive a cause, while what he called "clicktivism" for Unilever showed how a brand’s social purpose could be harnessed to give back to the community.

Globally, the highest-ranking campaign was for McDonald’s, called "Capacity based McDelivery", in partnership with Google, which integrated the fast-food chain’s first-party data with Google’s hyper-local targeting to maximise consumer expectations of delivery time through tailored messages.

In second place is a campaign called "Hungerithm" for which confectionery brand Snickers partnered with 7-Eleven stores in Australia. Snickers claimed the Internet "gets angry when it’s hungry" and launched an algorithm that analysed 14,000 social posts a day and adjusted the price of the chocolate bar accordingly: the angrier the Internet got, the cheaper Snickers became.

The Gunn ranking says three key themes have emerged from the world’s top campaigns for media excellence: data is driving fresh media thinking; an event-led strategy helps brands stand out; and partnerships are central to a youth-focused media strategy.

The top-ranked media agency is MediaCom London, with four campaigns in the top 100. MediaCom is also the top-ranked network, with eight agencies from around the world — Auckland, Bogota, Dusseldorf, London, Mumbai, Melbourne, Mexico City and New York — contributing to the network’s poll position. The network is also represented in SA.

PHD Worldwide is in second place and OMD Worldwide in third.

And for the first time, the Gunn Media 100 includes a ranking of holding companies. WPP tops the leader board, with three of its networks — MediaCom, Mindshare Worldwide and Wavemaker — in the top 10.

Omnicom Group and Interpublic Group follow.

Nike takes first position as the top brand, with four campaigns featured in the top 100.

McDonald’s is in second place, followed by Snickers and beauty brand Dove.