School Reports 2012: Lean Mean Fighting Machine

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Recent Lean Mean Fighting Machine work - Foster's
Recent Lean Mean Fighting Machine work - Foster's

By its own admission, 2010 was a "bit of a shit sandwich" for Lean Mean Fighting Machine. The storm centred on a Facebook hijack promotion for Dr Pepper that went horribly wrong and is probably best forgotten.

Score: 7

Agency fact file: Lean Mean Fighting Machine
Type of agency Digital
Company ownership Independent
Key personnel Tom Bazeley managing partner
  Sam Ball creative partner
  Dave Bedwood creative partner
  Dave Cox technical partner
Declared income £1.6m
Total accounts at year end 11
Accounts won 5 (biggest: Heineken International)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: Bacardi)
Number of staff 29 (+38%)

But the pressure was on for the agency to come out strongly last year and Campaign threw down the gauntlet, asking that it prove it was still relevant in an age when the barriers between digital specialists and traditional shops were coming down.

In fairness to Lean Mean Fighting Machine, the agency appears to have met this challenge with an impressive new-business run. Wins for Foster's, Signal and the agency's appointment as global digital agency of record for Unilever's Domestos bleach brand show that Lean Mean Fighting Machine was more than capable of successfully pitching against mainstream agencies for digital businesses. On the opposite side of the bought ledger page, its losses consisted of the tourism work for the Irish island Inish Turk Beg (hardly a significant loss) and a Bacardi project.

On the creative floor, the creative partners Sam Ball and Dave Bedwood hired Aurora Straton and Michela Nicchiotti, the duo behind Cadbury's controversial "Bliss" campaign, which was created by Fallon and attracted attention after complaints of racism. While the ad was exonerated by the Advertising Standards Authority, the hirings show that the agency has lost none of its edge and is prepared to take risks that others may shy away from.

All things considered, it was a pretty solid year, but greater creative strength across a broader range of clients in 2012 is required.

Score last year: 3

How Lean Mean Fighting Machine rates itself: 7

"After the brutality of 2010, we came out with our dukes up. The agency has grown by a third, won some excellent clients such as Domestos, Foster's and Heineken, and recruited some of tomorrow's superstars. We'll continue to show the economic uncertainty our bottoms in 2012."

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