Score: 6 Last year: 7
The fact that Leith has survived to celebrate its 30th birthday is no mean achievement in itself given the generally grim state of the ad industry in Scotland. That it should not only be alive but also kicking – with some feisty creative work to prove it – might be termed a miracle.
The recession has turned Scotland into something of an agency graveyard. Indeed, Leith itself had to play the white knight last year, riding to the rescue of its beleaguered Edinburgh rival Newhaven Communications, which it acquired for a nominal sum.
Newhaven’s plight was another sad example of the toll the harsh economic climate has exacted on Scotland’s agencies. Not only are they heavily dependent on the public sector, where budgets have been slashed, but they find it hard to lock in the talent to stop large Scotland-based advertisers going to agencies south of the border. Leith knows this only too well, having last year seen the account of the Perth-based SSE, Britain’s second-largest energy supplier, which it shared with The Gate, move to Adam & Eve/DDB.
Remarkably, though, Leith continues to defy the odds. Its breast cancer campaign for the Scottish Government, which last year named the agency its lead creative shop for the following three years, won global recognition. It also worked on activity for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
And Leith proved it hasn’t lost the capacity for provocative and funny creative work. Not least with a TV spot for Irn-Bru featuring a teenager’s embarrassment as his mates leer at his mum’s push-up bra. The Advertising Standards Authority dismissed the 170-plus complaints against it.
With more bold work – and a bit of luck – Leith could deliver another odds-defying performance this year.
How Leith rates itself: 8
Leith's year in a Tweet: 2013 was like a 29th birthday year should be: one foot in carefree creative abandon, the other in a bright, grown-up future.
|Type of agency||Integrated|
|Key personnel||Richard Marsham group managing partner|
|Pete Burns head of Blonde|
|Juliet Simpson head of Stripe Communications|
|Ed Brooke head of Leith|
|Gerry Farrell creative director|
|Nielsen billings 2013||£20m|
|Nielsen billings 2012||£23m|
|Total accounts at year end||82|
|Accounts won||21 (biggest: BASF)|
|Accounts lost||20 (biggest: SSE)|
|Number of staff||163 (+22%)|
Score key: 9 Outstanding 8 Excellent 7 Good 6 Satisfactory 5 Adequate 4 Below average 3 Poor 2 A year to forget 1 Survival in question
Footnote: *indicates where agencies claim the corporate governance constraints of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation.