School Reports 2012: Publicis London

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Recent Renault work
Recent Renault work

Publicis London ended 2011 looking very different to how it did when the year began. In March, the agency lost its chief executive, Neil Simpson, and three months after that, its executive creative director, Tom Ewart, also departed.

Score: 6

Agency factfile: Publicis London
Type of agency Advertising
Company ownership Publicis Groupe
Key personnel Nigel Jones group UK chairman and chief executive
  Karen Buchanan chief executive
  Will Arnold-Baker joint managing director
  Neil Quick joint managing director
  Adam Kean executive creative director
Nielsen billings 2011 £173m
Nielsen billings 2010 £168m
Declared income £37.3m
Total accounts at year end 38
Accounts won 4 (biggest: Tourism Ireland)
Accounts lost 1 (easyJet)
Number of staff 305 (+3%)

The agency moved swiftly to replace Simpson, bringing in the highly rated Red Brick Road managing partner Karen Buchanan. But the void left by Ewart has yet to be filled, with Publicis' other executive creative director, Adam Kean, taking sole responsibility for the creative department. It would be a surprise if the agency didn't make another senior creative hiring at some point in the future.

Another senior change was still to come later in the year as Tom Morton, the chief strategy officer, relocated to New York. However, the agency hired a fine replacement in Tony Quinn, the JWT head of planning.

Amid all the comings and goings, Publicis still had time to turn in a pretty impressive new-business effort. Things didn't start off in the best fashion when its client easyJet called a review (the business eventually moved to VCCP), and the agency also lost out to Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R in a pitch for the £32 million Dreams ad account.

But things got better later in the year when the agency won the global Tourism Ireland business and also wrestled the Nescafe advertising account from McCann London.

The creative product is where there is real room for improvement. Publicis enjoyed a good showing at awards ceremonies last year, but this was mainly for 2010 campaigns. A daring spot for Renault apart, 2011 work struggled to really build on this success, and the agency will be looking for improvement - whether that's under a new creative chief or not - in 2012.

Score last year: 7

How Publicis London rates itself: 7.5

"We had some good wins in 2011. New business arrived - both iconic (Nescafe) and global (Tourism Ireland). So did 76 awards, including two Grands Prix, 14 golds (one of which was an IPA Effectiveness) and a Cannes Titanium. We grew existing clients too (Renault) as we continued to collaborate ever closer with our sister companies at 82 Baker Street. Strong foundations with which to continue our success in 2012."

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