TOP 300 AGENCIES: Top new-media agencies

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 22 February 2002 12:00PM

The new-media industry had a chequered year in the face of

recession and the deep problems of the technology sector. I-Traffic, m

digital, Media Contacts and Zenith Interactive joined the class of 2001

and thrived in tough times.



AKQA

PRINCIPAL AJAZ AHMED

Declared billings 2001 n/s

Declared income 2001 n/s

% of new-media work 85

Staff 2001 170

Company ownership minority-owned by Accenture



AKQA kicked off 2001 by setting up a global network. The company

received £48 million in funding from Accenture and Francisco

Partners LP, and established offices in New York, San Francisco, LA,

Singapore and Washington. The move allowed the agency to sink its teeth

into Accenture's client list and, by merging with agencies in the US and

Asia, it also allowed AKQA to dabble in offline ads.



The agency indulged in some personnel musical chairs when Rick Hadala,

the former chief executive of Ammirati Puris Lintas in the US, took the

reins as the global chief executive while Ajaz Ahmed, AKQA's founder and

its managing director, became the global chairman and chief marketing

officer. Ahmed's co-founder, Dan Norris-Jones, became the managing

director of London.



Then Hadala left in October to be replaced by the chief operating

officer Tom Bedecarre.



Impressive wins included XBox in March, Lunn Poly in September, Visa and

The British Council. But not all pitches were triumphs. Digit beat AKQA

to win Habitat, Modem Media scooped European General Motors and Carlson

picked up the Telewest Communications account.There were losses too.

BMW's new Mini account went to ehsrealtime in March and AKQA didn't

repitch for the work. Virgin Atlantic chose Good Technology over AKQA in

May and the agency lost the UK account for Expedia to Zinc.



Creative was of the usual high standard. The Nike runlondon.com site,

for instance, was a huge success. A good steady year from the AKQA team,

but 2002 will see a real test for the agency with a foray into

above-the-line work.



SCORE THIS YEAR 6



SCORE LAST YEAR 7



I-LEVEL

PRINCIPAL CHARLIE DOBRES

Declared billings 2001 18m

Declared income 2001 n/s

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2001 35

Company ownership Private company



I-Level, an independent new-media agency, has enjoyed billings growth in

a difficult year. It also escaped having to make any of the redundancies

that were synonymous with almost anything in new media in 2001. Billings

were up by 25 per cent, according to agency figures, and no redundancies

are expected for 2002, although the company says it will be

restructuring. It is now seeking to recruit across the board, further

evidence of it bucking the wider trend.



i-Level also had a good run of wins including Tiny Computers, William

Hill, the Department of Trade and Industry, Eagle Star and Travel

Choice. No clients were lost in 2001, but the agency lost out to Media

Contacts on the Expedia pitch and Manning Gottlieb Media on the media

account for AskJeeves.



Key appointments for the agency included Nick Gutfreund who joined as

group managing director from Publicis, where he had been running the

global Ericsson advertising account. However, in June, the agency's

managing director, Alan McCulloch, left to do consultancy work and then

turned up at the McCann-Erickson Worldgroup digital agency, Zentropy

Partners, in early January.



I-Level's Charlie Dobres has always been a strong voice for the online

industry and in this role he ran a series of USBA-sponsored seminars for

marketers on online advertising.



In 2002, the agency needs to take its existing successes, including

branching out with formats such as superstitials for Yell.com, and use

them as a springbroad to improve its pitch conversion rate.



SCORE THIS YEAR 8



SCORE LAST YEAR 9



INTERACTIVE@OPTIMEDIA

PRINCIPAL PHIL NUNN

Declared billings 2001 9.5m

Declared income 2001 n/s

% of new-media work 80

Staff 2001 15

Company ownership Publicis subsidiary



Interactive@optimedia was launched in May 2000 under the leadership of

Phil Nunn, formerly Optimedia's head of direct marketing and media.



Optimedia Direct provided the foundations for interactive@Optimedia and

Nunn has made the most of the agency's direct heritage as a selling

point to clients.



Despite launching in the midst of new media's giddy heights in 2000, the

agency proved resilient to the doom and gloom of last year. Staff

numbers increased from 10 to 15, and the agency won 12 new accounts.



The agency has benefited from shared wins with its Publicis and

Optimedia parents. Five of the new accounts were wins through Optimedia,

including internet portal Vizzavi. However, the agency's biggest coup

came at the beginning of the year with its appointment to the COI

roster. Work on COI initiatives included UK Online For Business and the

National Blood Service. The online work reflected well on Optimedia and,

towards the end of the year, COI appointed the mother agency to its

media strategy roster.



The agency is currently in the process of recruiting an account manager

who will be responsible for strategy in the wake of Maryam Bazargan's

departure.



Bazargan, as managing partner, had co-managed the agency with Nunn and

left by mutual consent in January 2002.



SCORE THIS YEAR 7



SCORE LAST YEAR N/A



I-TRAFFIC

PRINCIPAL JON SHARPE

Declared billings 2001 12m

Declared income 2001 5m

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2001 32

Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary



I-Traffic came into being at the end of 2000 through the merger of

agency.com's UK Digital Marketing Group with its US interactive

marketing subsidiary, i-Traffic. Under a new management team headed up

by Jon Sharpe, the new entity picked up some impressive accounts during

the year including Cable & Wireless and Gillette, a pan-European win,

and consolidated its business with existing clients such as

Interbrew.



It also claims that it delivered a 20 per cent profit margin in

2001.



With a solid performance, a strong client list and clear ambition, it

was never going to be single for long, and, true to form, Omnicom

snapped it up in October.



One of the agency's most significant achievements was becoming the

exclusive supplier of interactive marketing services to Agency Republic,

the full-service joint venture between agency.com and Claydon Heeley

Jones Mason.



Agency Republic has already grabbed headlines and awards in its short

life to date and plans are said to be in the pipeline for extending the

model overseas.



I-Traffic made an impressive poach with John Owrid, the managing partner

at Ogilvy & Mather and Ogilvy One, who had been at the agency for five

years, as European president, another sure sign that it is adamant in

expanding its European network.



Over the coming year, the agency is aware that it needs to heighten its

profile and make more strategic alliances to strengthen its standing in

the marketplace. It may also be keenly eyeing the right people to help

it achieve its ambitious goals.



SCORE THIS YEAR 7



SCORE LAST YEAR N/A



M DIGITAL

PRINCIPAL JED GLANVILL

Declared billings 2001 11m

Declared income 2001 n/s

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2001 20

Company ownership WPP subsidiary



A key characteristic inherent in a large proportion of work by m digital

over 2001 is how the agency persuaded big-name clients not just to stick

their toe in the water of digital media, but to rip off all their

clothes and go skinny-dipping.



There's no better example of this than its work for Volvo, which saw it

launch the S60 coupe exclusively online. Such bravery garnered results

and also won a commendation for its efforts at the Campaign Media

Awards.



It was also the way that the online work, where appropriate, was

integrated with other marketing activity. Again, Volvo was a good

example. M digital backed up the car brand's "urban life support"

sponsorship of ER on Channel 4 and E4 by brokering deals across

high-profile sites such as Sports.com, the AA and ThisisLondon.co.uk, in

other words, sites which offer "urban life support".



But the example cited again and again over the year has been the

cashless media deal for the Kit Kat/MSN partnership which extended Kit

Kat's timeless "Have a break, have a Kit Kat" slogan with MSN

Messenger.



Under the leadership of Jed Glanvill, who last year became responsible

for MindShare Direct as well as for M digital, the agency won new

business in its own right. Clients won independently of MindShare in

2001 included Channel 4 and Telewest. Yet through business won by its

parent agency, M digital also worked on clients such as Boots.



In 2002 it must continue to impress clients with its own

credentials.



SCORE THIS YEAR 7



SCORE LAST YEAR N/A



MEDIA CONTACTS

PRINCIPAL MARC MENDOZA

Declared billings 2001 11m

Declared income 2001 n/s

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2001 20

Company ownership Havas subsidiary



2001 was a better year for Media Contacts than it was for its parent

media agency, Media Planning Group.



Whereas one of the biggest blows for MPG during the year was the loss of

its £7 million Microsoft business to Universal McCann, Media

Contacts held on to Microsoft and MSN's online business.



Media Contacts also had a good run of wins, often beating off

competition from bigger, more established rivals. During the year it won

Fish4, which doubled its online advertising spend to £2 million,

and Ananova, which was also one of MPG's few wins of 2001. Media

Contacts also scooped the assignment for KLM's budget airline, Buzz,

although it failed to win the account for KLM itself, losing out to

Zenith Interactive Services.



Media Contacts boosted its staff with appointments including Anthony

Rhind, who was poached from OMD to become the director of strategy, and

Ben Collins, who came from the folded Avenue A, a boost for Media

Contacts as it landed former Avenue A client, Expedia.



Yet Media Contacts is lacking a full-time managing director and says it

has no plans to fill this role at present. Marc Mendoza is currently

managing Media Contacts as well as Media Planning Group. The agency

should seek to plug this hole.



In 2002, Media Contacts must continue the high standard of work it has

done for Microsoft, Thomson and Orange, as well as trying to win more

substantial accounts and raising its profile within the industry.



SCORE THIS YEAR 7



SCORE LAST YEAR 8



MODEM MEDIA

PRINCIPAL TIM SEXTON

Declared billings 2001 n/s

Declared income 2001 15m

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2001 120

Company ownership Interpublic subsidiary



Modem Media was 43 per cent owned by True North, so when Interpublic's

purchase of the group was processed in spring 2001, the agency suddenly

found itself in the same family as Zentropy Partners. It also found

itself shoulder-to-shoulder with Zentropy when it repitched for its

General Motors account, which Modem Media had held since 1998. It must

have breathed a huge sigh of relief when the automotive giant confirmed

Modem's place on its roster in July, beating off competition from not

just Zentropy but also AKQA. Yet Modem Media was elbowed out by Zentropy

when it came to the sought-after interactive strategy task for Unilever

in November.



The agency's wins included Prudential and Hewlett-Packard, yet these did

not protect it from the general economic malaise. The agency lost more

than 10 per cent of its staff, mostly as a result of wider global

redundancies.



Creative highlights from the agency this year included an interactive TV

campaign for Persil Revive and the "Hot chefs" game for Birds Eye, which

encouraged users to make up recipes.



For an agency that traditionally doesn't lose or gain many clients, this

year will hopefully see Modem Media getting back on track from staff

losses.



SCORE THIS YEAR 7



SCORE LAST YEAR 8



OGILVYINTERACTIVE

PRINCIPAL TIM CARRIGAN

Declared billings 2001 56m

Declared income 2001 8m

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2001 111

Company ownership WPP subsidiary



Tim Carrigan founded NoHo Digital in 1994, a fast-growing new-media

agency with a client list including Egg, Unilever and PlayStation 2. The

agency caught Sir Martin Sorrell's eye and he purchased it in 1999 to

make it part of the global OgilvyInteractive network of new-media

agencies.



Still headed up by Carrigan, OgilvyInteractive had a good first half

in2001. It was only when clients such as IBM and American Express cut

back on online adspend in quarters three and four that the agency lost

28 staff; 10 of which were compulsory and 18 of which were voluntary

redundancies.



Yet on the plus side, the agency enjoyed a big win in the shape of

Consignia, which, it claims, could be worth up to £30 million over

the next five years.



However, despite its history with Unilever, the client's strategic

new-media task went to Zentropy after OgilvyInteractive failed to

convert.



On the personnel side, the head of business development, William

Lidstone, left in January for EC1 Media, and Michael Phillips, who

co-produced the successful Felix viral campaign, left to start his own

consultancy. Stuart Jackson was brought in from Discovery Networks

Europe to head Ogilvy Interactive's interactive TV operation.



Creative highlights in 2001 included a Friskies Petcare brand site

targeting dog and cat lovers, and the "Solutions for the City" site

which set out to show that IBM is the leading IT solutions partner for

London.



SCORE THIS YEAR 5



SCORE LAST YEAR N/A



OUTRIDER

PRINCIPAL ROB NORMAN

Declared billings 2001 11m

Declared income 2001 7m

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2001 90

Company ownership WPP subsidiary



In an up-and-down year, the most significant event for Outrider, a

full-service online planning and buying operation, was the takeover of

its Tempus parent by WPP. Rob Norman, who founded Outrider in1996

following ten years' service with CIA, became CEO worldwide of the newly

merged Outrider and The Digital Edge.



Before the takeover, Outrider had expanded its offering internally.

Incline was brought into the group as a digital marketing creative

specialist, and fellow Tempus subsidiary, Good Technology, repositioned

to focus on website development.



In March, Tempus won the Vodafone account resulting in Outrider being

handed the coveted digital task. Other wins followed including Opodo,

Cussons, Ladbrokes, E4 and Cannon. The only major loss for the UK was

the Nationwide task to Tribal DDB. However, it failed to convert on

Unilever, Nicotinelle, Argos and i-village.



The agency lost a few of its leading lights. The managing director,

David Stubley, left to start his own venture, while the buying and

planning manager, Richard Thompson, was poached by BT, although he was

replaced internally by the deputy managing director, Kirsti Wilson.



Globally, Outrider had a grim year, with headcount falling from 300 to

190, within which the UK staff was reduced from 125 to 90.



In a cost-saving and positioning exercise, Outrider was grouped with CIA

to form Tempus' "connectivity division".



2002 will see Outrider concentrating on reducing that operating

loss.



SCORE THIS YEAR 5



SCORE LAST YEAR N/A



PROFERO

PRINCIPAL DARYL ARNOLD

Declared billings 2001 10m

Declared income 2001 2m

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2001 42

Company ownership Private company



Profero, which began life as the brainchild of two brothers, Daryl and

Wayne Arnold and their long-time friend Daniele Findaca is a

full-service new-media agency with a media planning and buying function

and boasts a solid client list. This includes high-profile dotcoms like

beeb.com and lastminute.com, as well as advertisers looking to make an

impact online.



The latter include Merrill Lynch Investment Managers and Sun

International.



The agency's big coup of 2001 was getting on to the COI Communications

roster; the Department for Education and Skills gave Profero the task of

educating target audiences about new degrees.



Under chief executive Daryl Arnold, 2001 saw the agency building on its

international network which now boasts offices in Madrid, Milan and

Sydney, as well as London. In Germany it has a strategic alliance with

Plan.net and in 2002 it plans to build on its satellite operation in

Paris by establishing a fully fledged office in France.



2001 saw a restructure in Profero's creative department when it launched

in Australia as the founding creative director, Jamie Corker, headed up

the new office Down Under. He was replaced in London by his deputy,

David Harrison. Meanwhile, two of Profero's founding partners, Jamie and

Daniel Estrin, left to set up their own company, Launch Ventures.



Profero has more than held its own in a difficult year, expanding in an

otherwise contracting market. 2002 should see more significant

progress.



SCORE THIS YEAR 7



SCORE LAST YEAR 7



ZENITH INTERACTIVE SERVICES

PRINCIPAL CHRIS KETLEY

Declared billings 2001 12m

Declared income 2001 2m

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2001 20

Company ownership Cordiant/Publicis subsidiary



Zenith Interactive Services (ZIS) was founded under managing director

Chris Ketley in November 1999. Yet ironically, considering market

conditions, 2001 was the year in which ZIS came of age.



Starting with a team of 11, the total number of staff almost doubled to

20 by the year end. The agency also claims that income grew year on year

by 70 per cent. Certainly, it enjoyed some impressive wins including KLM

and BMW. The agency also garnered new business through Zenith's client

wins in 2001, among them Clerical Medical, Carlsberg-Tetley, P&O Stena

and Littlewoods Leisure.



The agency also formed a strategic partnership with Abel & Baker, a

highly regarded creative hotshop from Sweden, which opened a London

office in spring 2001. Work by A&B and ZIS towards the end of last year

included www.



argu-mate.com for the AA, extending the concept of the bickering couple

in the AA's TV campaign. Other talked-about work included the Mini

launch, which made its debut on Yahoo!'s home page in July: the

brokering of a five-figure deal for BMW to sponsor the golf channel on

sportal.co.uk and the biggest online ad campaign to date for the Halifax

(although not with the all-singing, all-dancing Howard).



In 2002, ZIS must keep up the hard work but, crucially, needs to build a

profile as an entity independent from that of its parent.



SCORE THIS YEAR 7



SCORE LAST YEAR N/A



ZENTROPY PARTNERS

PRINCIPAL ALASTAIR DUNCAN

Declared billings 2001 7m

Declared income 2001 5m

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2001 60

Company ownership Interpublic subsidiary



Zentropy Partners UK became the new name for APL Digital in January 2000

in the wake of the Lowe Lintas merger. APL Digital had been set up by

Alastair Duncan, a former APL Board Director, in 1998, and he still

heads up the re-branded agency today.



Zentropy weathered the economic storm of 2001 well, picking up nine new

clients including the coveted interactive strategy task for Unilever. It

also won a specific task from Microsoft to develop its business sites.

Zentropy also held on to all its existing clients.



It was not all good news though. Like so many of its counterparts,

Zentropy had to trim its overheads and finished the year with 60 staff -

15 fewer than the year before. It also reported income slightly down at

£5.4 million from £5.8 million in 2000.



On the pitch side, failure to convert the pan-European General Motors

account, which stayed with fellow IPG new-media agency Modem Media, was

a blow.



Creatively, Zentropy's standout campaigns included its "belly" campaign

for Reebok, a viral campaign for Birds Eye's Enjoy! brand and an

interactive site for Nestle's Nesquik.



The agency became a branch of MRM Worldwide, as Interpublic Group merged

the new-media agency into its direct marketing unit - but the agency

insists it remains "operationally independent".



For 2002 it will be interesting to see what Zentropy comes up with as

Unilever's strategic advisor on new-media. The agency also should

concentrate on pushing its high creative standards still further.



SCORE THIS YEAR 6



SCORE LAST YEAR N/A



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



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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