TOP 300 AGENCIES: Top UK agencies profiles

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 27 February 2004 12:00AM

AMV failed to repeat its epic performances of recent years, Arc flourished after its relaunch, while AIS established itself as an integrated agency. Banks Hoggins O'Shea restructured after winning only two new accounts and BBH was the agency to beat.

AMV failed to repeat its epic performances of recent years, Arc flourished after its relaunch, while AIS established itself as an integrated agency. Banks Hoggins O'Shea restructured after winning only two new accounts and BBH was the agency to beat.

ABBOTT MEAD VICKERS BBDO

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £350m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £341m

Total accounts year end 40

Accounts gained 10

Accounts lost 5

Total staff 285

Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary

Unusually for an agency that always seemed in command of its destiny, AMV has entered 2004 at the mercy of forces beyond its control.

Last year was significant more for the pitches it failed to convert than those it did. The £90 million Boots integrated account evaded capture as did Birds Eye and, with it, the opportunity to join Unilever's roster.

Both disappointments underline AMV's problems with sustaining the vitality needed to retain the number-one spot it has occupied for so long.

A number of underlying dilemmas now preoccupy AMV. Although the demands from its Omnicom parent to hit the numbers remain relentless, significant extra assignments from globally aligned BBDO clients - essential to AMV's future - have not been plentiful.

True, there was a domestic win or two: notably Royal Mail's £20 million creative account. But the epic performances of a few years ago became hard to replicate because the agency is saturated in so many categories.

Meanwhile, onlookers have been asking how long AMV can keep surviving BT's regular statutory reviews, with all rival UK telecoms business internationally aligned. The BT account would be virtually irreplaceable.

On the plus side, AMV's work continues to scoop awards. Some, though, believe it needs broadening if it is to fend off challenges from smaller rivals such as Mother and Clemmow Hornby Inge, which are now attracting business that used to belong to AMV by divine right.

For Michael Baulk, AMV's chairman, the conundrum is how to keep costs under control while funding the talent to keep the agency at the forefront.

He may also have to look beyond the main agency for growth opportunities, particularly at Minerva, AMV's second-string shop, whose blue-chip client list could propel it to top-20 status within two years.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 5

SCORE LAST YEAR: 4

ARC

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £3m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £3m

Total accounts year end 60

Accounts gained 9

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 120

Company ownership Publicis subsidiary

The year following a relaunch is crucial for any network, as there is pressure to prove that it was the right move.

For Arc, it was particularly intense as the changes involved losing the name IMP, one of the most famous three-letter acronyms in the below-the-line world.

The agency used the first half of the year to concentrate on its flagship clients including Masterfoods' huge Chocollect promotion, and its first campaign of the year for Fiat.

The agency maintained its focus on client relationships, promoting its client services director, Mike Spicer, to managing director. As Spicer settled into his new role, more change ensued as the agency swallowed up its sister below-the-line shop Leonardo in July.

The merger was no surprise, as it followed the combination of the sibling above-the-line networks D'Arcy and Leo Burnett and it gave the agency clients including Kellogg, McDonald's, Morgan Stanley and Six Continents Hotels to add to an already impressive list including Procter & Gamble and Tetley.

Although Leonardo's management team of the creative partner, Gary Sharpen, and the chief executive, Steve Barton, both left following the merger, there is still a strong team heading the resulting agency.

It reached the end of the year with a batch of awards, mainly for Fiat, winning a gold and a silver for "coathanger" for Fiat's MPV, a silver for work for the Fiat Ulysse and a bronze for its work for Philips at the DMA Awards in December. The gongs reflect a solid year for the agency, with Graham Mills and Jack Nolan, the executive creative directors, and John Quarry as the chief executive, and prove that the relaunch and consolidation were risks worth taking.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 6

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

ARCHIBALD INGALL STRETTON

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £5m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £9m

Total accounts year end 10

Accounts gained 2

Accounts lost 1

Total staff 60

Company ownership Private company

For too long, Archibald Ingall Stretton has failed to fulfil its obvious potential, but 2003 was the year it got its act together.

The high point came in June when the agency landed the £10 million O2 direct marketing account. The business was one of the biggest below-the-line prizes of the year and it helped AIS recover from the disappointment of losing the Seeboard business as part of a consolidation process.

The agency also won a relaunch assignment from the menswear retailer Austin Reed, as well as briefs for the environmental group Planet Ark and Waterscape. This performance has helped AIS grow its income by 35 per cent on last year.

Growth was clearly important to AIS in 2003, exemplified by the 20 new hirings the agency made. Four new creative teams joined, including John Vinton and Martin Lythgoe from Craik Jones Watson Mitchel Voelkel. But perhaps the smartest appointment was Alistair Bryan, also from Craik Jones.

As an account man, Bryan is an automotive specialist and his presence will go a long way to ensure AIS remains a two-car-account agency.

The creative partner, Steve Stretton, oversaw some clever work for Skoda and some promising offerings for BMW. But what will be particularly satisfying for Stretton and his partners, Stuart Archibald and John Ingall, is that in 2003, AIS finally established itself as an integrated agency. Impressive through-the-line campaigns for City & Guilds and UIA Insurance underlined AIS's multimedia credentials - 30 per cent of AIS's billings in 2003 came from TV, radio and new media.

AIS must now capitalise on a good year by producing the goods for O2 and making more of an impact at creative awards ceremonies.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 8

SCORE LAST YEAR: n/a

BANKS HOGGINS O'SHEA/FCB

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £83m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £86m

Total accounts year end 17

Accounts gained 2

Accounts lost 1

Total staff 85

Company ownership Interpublic subsidiary

The radical restructuring set in motion last year by John Banks belied the Banks Hoggins O'Shea/FCB chairman's image as a pillar of the conservative wing of the UK ad establishment.

Increasingly concerned that BHO's lack of profile and unremarkable creative reputation was condemning the agency to permanent mediocrity, Banks rang the changes.

Out went the senior management team of Paul Houlding and Steve Hastings, the management partners, along with the joint creative directors, Dave Alexander and Rob Fletcher, all now reunited in the Isobel start-up.

In have come Jonathan Rigby, Lowe's former head of account management, as the managing director, the HHCL/Red Cell star Al Young as the creative director and Fallon's highly regarded David Bain as the planning chief.

Having laid the foundations, this year should show whether or not Banks has built a platform from which BHO can mount a more realistic challenge to the headline-grabbing start-ups.

How well the new managerial line-up gels is crucial. Rigby has enthusiasm and ambition but is unproven at the most senior agency level. Young has impeccable credentials but can his team produce work that BHO's clients will buy?

There will also need to be a significant improvement on last year's dismal new-business record comprising only the £3 million Fujitsu corporate business and Cuvee Mythique wines, billing a modest £500,000.

In some respects, BHO's future is bound up with its two bedrock clients.

One is Weetabix, with which Banks has enjoyed a close high-level relationship but which is now in the hands of US-based venture capitalists. The other is Waitrose, an account long synonymous with Ken Hoggins and Chris O'Shea, the BHO creative partners, who resigned in September. Testing times lie ahead.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 4

SCORE LAST YEAR: 5

BARTLE BOGLE HEGARTY

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £142m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £134m

Total accounts year end 38

Accounts gained 10

Accounts lost 1

Total staff 300

Company ownership Minority-owned by Publicis

After narrowly missing out in 2002 and 2001, Bartle Bogle Hegarty celebrated its 21st anniversary as Campaign's Agency of the Year.

Its achievements in 2003 were underpinned by its stability, ensured by the commitment of its founders Nigel Bogle and John Hegarty and the leadership of Simon Sherwood, John O'Keeffe, Gwyn Jones and Jim Carroll.

Early last year, the new-business director, Nicola Mendelsohn, was lured away by Garry Lace's chequebook, but her replacement, Richard Exxon, got BBH on the important pitchlists. By summer, it had landed the lucrative Woolworths account, an anti-smoking brief from Cancer Research and Bisto.

BBH then added Robinson's, took the £10 million Barclaycard account from DDB and robbed J. Walter Thompson of its global Bailey's business. A successful pitch for the consolidated Interbrew account brought Castlemaine XXXX.

In December, the agency landed the £10 million Birds Eye account, a place on the SCA roster and the Surf business. In fact, the only low point was the loss of Microsoft Xbox, which was realigned into McCann-Erickson.

BBH's creative offering included spectacular work for Johnny Walker, a revitalised Barclays campaign, plus TV work for Audi and Levi's of the usual high standard. Mature, thoughtful strategies for Woolworths and KFC proved once and for all that BBH can could handle retail, while the multimedia Lynx Pulse extravaganza was a contender for Campaign of the Year. O'Keeffe has once again delivered, although he'll no doubt be relieved that his deputy, Russell Ramsey, decided against defecting to WCRS.

BBH also set up a music-publishing arm, a branded-content division and launched a glossy magazine. It seems determined to delve outside of traditional advertising, although on this form you wonder why it feels it needs to bother.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 9

SCORE LAST YEAR: 8

BDH\TBWA

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £36m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £36m

Total accounts year end 43

Accounts gained 13

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 140

Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary

Fingers will remain tightly crossed at BDH\TBWA that the supermarket boss Sir Ken Morrison ignores siren calls urging him to take his account to London.

Last year ended with William Morrison concluding its protracted negotiations to take over Safeway in a £3 billion deal. It also raised the tantalising question of what will happen to the new group's potentially huge new account.

Having won back the £8 million Morrisons account in April last year after a six-year interlude, Manchester's BDH\TBWA must wait to see if it has a new fight on its hands. Will Morrisons succumb to the hotshop appeal of Safeway's incumbent, Clemmow Hornby Inge? Will it look at other suitors?

Or will it stay at BDH? The agency certainly has grounds for optimism, given Sir Ken's loyalty to his company's Northern heartland and his healthy scepticism of analysts' advice.

Even now, Morrisons has already made a significant contribution to BDH's fortunes, helping to propel it to 19th in Campaign's business performance league and to clock up income and profit increases of 19 per cent and 39 per cent respectively during 2003.

But for Morrison's, the agency's only other new-business success of note was landing the £19 million global lead creative role for Henkel's stationery adhesive brand Pritt.

Still, the agency's healthy retention record remains undiminished with no account lost for the second successive year.

Meanwhile, BDH will be looking to develop what it has already done for the Cussons brand into more work that is "discipline neutral" and less advertising-centric.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 7

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

CAMPBELL DOYLE DYE

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £20m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £12m

Total accounts year end 6

Accounts gained 3

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 21

Company ownership Private company

Campbell Doyle Dye's second full year in existence proved difficult as the agency failed to capitalise on the solid start made in 2002.

It relied heavily upon the steady income from its only major UK client - the £10million Mercedes account - to support it during a year that saw just three new accounts enter the fold.

Of these, the HBOS-owned telephone and integrated banking service, Intelligent Finance, was the most noteworthy and sizable account valued at £8 million.

CDD also won the global account for the Highland Distillers' flagship brand, The Macallan, and Adnams.

The resulting national poster campaign for the Sussex-based brewery proved the agency could deliver the goods for smaller clients as well, but it was just one highlight in an otherwise disappointing year.

Although the agency muscled its way on to a number of significant pitches, it was unsuccessful in pulling off a coup and upsetting any of the major players.

Federal Express and the brief for Sky Plus both slipped through its fingers while its place on McCain's roster was relinquished due to "unsuitable dynamics" between itself and the food company.

Seven new faces joined the agency including one of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO's creative teams, Tom Ewart and Dave Sullivan.

There is little doubt CDD is capable of producing creative work of high calibre, but in 2004 the agency will need to attract more large chunks of business for Walter Campbell, Sean Doyle and Dave Dye to get their teeth stuck into.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 5

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

CHEETHAMBELLJWT

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £47m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £39m

Total accounts year end 36

Accounts gained 7

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 93

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Just when it all seemed to be clicking into gear at CheethambellJWT, its Phones4U client threw an end-of-year spanner in the works by opening talks with other agencies about the future of its £11 million account.

News of the mobile phone retailer's restlessness marred a year of solid progress for the Manchester shop, which notched up more than £21 million in extra billings while continuing to mature and broaden its offering.

In the end though, the agency was forced to enter 2004 unsure whether its TV campaign featuring a pair of comedy folk singers in a camper van would be successful enough to stop the exit of an account characterised by the Caudwell group's ruthless culture.

However, it's equally true that it lost no business during the year and put on seven new accounts, enough to give it eighth spot in Campaign's business performance league.

Time Computers picked the agency to handle an £11 million creative assignment to turn its re-christened Computer Shop retail chain into a serious rival to PC World.

At the same time, the agency established a relationship with the Homestyle Group, which picked it to boost sales for its Rosebys and Fabric Warehouse retail brands. The £2 million Johnsons dry-cleaning business completed the year's haul, although the agency missed out to its close rival BDH\TBWA in the head-to-head contest for the Morrisons supermarket chain's £8 million account.

Meanwhile, CheethambellJWT has continued to evolve both its high-street and healthcare expertise. Its specialist operation works for six national retail chains and the agency itself has become the J. Walter Thompson network's European centre of excellence for healthcare with clients such as Reckitt Benckiser, Pfizer and Boehringer on its list.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 6

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

CLAYDON HEELEY JONES MASON

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £9m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £8m

Total accounts year end n/s

Accounts gained 9

Accounts lost 1

Total staff n/s

Company ownership Omnicom sudsidiary

A few years ago, when Claydon Heeley wasn't really the best of agencies, it talked itself up so much you suspected its directors had been attending the Rupert Howell School of Modesty.

Now it really is a good agency, it seems quieter and even to have discovered a hint of humility. It's a bit like finding that loudmouth Chris Eubank really could fight.

Key to Claydon Heeley's comparative charm and improved performance are its main movers: the chief executive, Nigel Jones; the managing director, Jonathan Harman, and the creative directors, David Woods and Peter Harle.

Harle and Woods, who joined from TBWA\London in 2001, raised the creative bar with their work for The Guardian winning silver at the Campaign Direct Awards and the DMA Awards. Other work of note included its direct mail for The Number 118 118 and PlayStation, as well as its Callaway advertising.

The agency was rocked by the loss of T-Mobile, one of its biggest accounts, in June and it seemed it was in danger of lurching back into the instability that dogged its past.

However, it bounced back with a total of nine wins including Philips, Goodyear, The Number 118 118, Selfridges and the DTI. Under the client services director, Mike Welsh, it also devoted more time and energy to client needs.

The chairman, Jon Claydon, and the vice-chairman, Leo Campbell, returned to the agency earlier in the year, after briefly working overseas, to add firepower to key accounts and new business.

After a year of consolidation, the agency has set itself high standards for 2004. It is aiming to land several big accounts in the first quarter and improve creative still further, arguing that if it does this it could be a "dark horse" for agency of the year. Fighting talk.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 6

SCORE LAST YEAR: 7

CLEMMOW HORNBY INGE

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £50m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £21m

Total accounts year end 17

Accounts gained 5

Accounts lost 1

Total staff 58

Company ownership Private company

Over the past 12 months, Clemmow Hornby Inge has proved that its early successes were no flukes. Not only has the agency once again won almost everything it has pitched for, but the quality of its strategic and creative thinking is beginning to show through.

CHI started 2003 well, winning both The Spectator and Expedia accounts.

It followed this by landing a place on the British Telecom roster, alongside Fallon.

In spring, the agency captured the biggest prize of its short life, winning the £30 million British Gas account and breaking BMP hearts in the process.

The managing partner, Johnny Hornby, somehow managed to persuade British Gas that neither BT nor the CHI founding client, the Carphone Warehouse, posed a conflict.

However, six months later, CHI and BT had split, freeing CHI to take on Carphone's fixed-line telephony account, Talk Talk.

The agency also took The One Account from TBWA, won Arla's Anchor Butter business and gained extra briefs from Butcher's and Tango.

CHI's creative offering has had its usual critics. Sure, its reel is less spectacular than that of Bartle Bogle Hegarty or TBWA\London, but the creative director, Charles Inge, has never specialised in dazzling one-off executions. True to form, Inge's department offered campaigns with longevity, based on the impressive strategic thinking of the planning partner, Simon Clemmow.

Neat multimedia offerings for Expedia and The Spectator accompanied an impressive relaunch campaign for The Daily Telegraph and promising TV work for British Gas. It won a gold Lion at Cannes for Britvic's Tango brand.

With its media offshoot Naked Inside winning business and salubrious new digs secured, things are looking good for 2004.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 8

SCORE LAST YEAR: 8

CRAIK JONES WATSON MITCHELL VOELKEL

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £5m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £5m

Total accounts year end 27

Accounts gained 5

Accounts lost 2

Total staff 75

Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary

While other direct marketing agencies struggled in 2003, Campaign's Direct Agency of the Year, Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel, performed well creatively and made some enviable additions to its clients list.

The agency had a difficult start to the year when the creative directors, Phil Keevill and Simon Kershaw, left to launch a start-up. The pair had earned themselves a formidable reputation during their stint at Craik Jones. However, the departure suited both parties and Mark Buckingham, David Brown, Rebecca Rae and Leigh Roberts proved capable replacements.

Their department produced classy work for First Direct, cute and effective mailing campaigns for Virgin Trains and Surf, and some impressive creative for the agency's flagship Land Rover account. It also produced the goods for its other two showcase clients - Gordon's Gin and Orange - and was rewarded with three golds, three silvers and three bronzes at the Royal Mail DMA Awards.

The agency won five new accounts this year, but what particularly impressed was not the quantity but the quality of its haul. In October, the agency was appointed by the National Trust. It also won places on both the Marks & Spencer and SCA rosters.

But the two new-business highlights came at either end of the year. In early spring, the agency landed the £20 million NatWest account without a pitch. And in December it won Boots alongside Mother and Naked.

The only low point was the fact that Ulster Bank took its business back to Ireland.

So Craik Jones starts 2004 as Campaign's top direct agency - the second time it has won the accolade in three years. If it continues to thrive in the barren DM new-business landscape, it will be a good bet to win a third.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 9

SCORE LAST YEAR: 7

DDB LONDON

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £176m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £171m

Total accounts year end 35

Accounts gained 9

Accounts lost 7

Total staff 327

Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary

At the start of 2003 any lingering Christmas cheer at the agency formerly known as BMP DDB was doused with the news that British Gas was reviewing its £23 million account after 12 years.

The subsequent loss was symptomatic of the problem that has plagued the agency - it is suffering from inertia and its status is slipping on the domestic front.

The blow was the final catalyst in forcing the agency to confront its obvious management crisis. In very untypical fashion, it chose to search outside its ranks for a new chief executive. This as-yet-unresolved hunt is having a demoralising effect on staff morale.

The agency did pick up a string of domestic wins, including H Samuel, WWF UK, Kwik-Fit and Age Concern, but it would have benefited from some meatier new business. International wins were strong - TUI, the Canadian Tourist Commission, Philips and Dell Europe. With much of this business being run from London, its coffers will be impressively boosted.

As part of DDB's vision to boost its pan-European profile, it poached Will Awdry, the executive creative director at Partners BDDH, to be its European creative director.

Losses included Barclaycard, which joined the rest of the Barclays business at Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

Creatively, the agency has been solid with excellent print work for Volkswagen, particularly "elepump" which won the top honour at the Campaign Press Awards. The agency's TV output has also been improved.

2003 marked the end of an era with the 35-year-old BMP prefix retired with the relaunch in 2004 as DDB London. The agency needs to use this moment to start afresh and knuckle down to build a stronger domestic presence. Making the shortlist for the Camelot pitch was at least a step in the right direction.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 5

SCORE LAST YEAR: 5

DELANEY LUND KNOX WARREN & PARTNERS

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £89m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £63m

Total accounts year end 26

Accounts gained 8

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 105

Company ownership Minority-owned by Interpublic

After four years, Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners has firmly marked out its territory and settled into a thriving business. Not a flashy outfit, the agency's workmanlike approach continued to appeal in 2003 with another, now trademark, consistent new-business effort.

DLKW cemented its reputation as the new COI Communications favourite winning the Department of Work and Pensions, the £8 million account for the DVLA and the £8 million Aim Higher campaign for the Department for Education and Skills.

A highlight was scooping the £6 million Batchelors business providing the agency with a great creative opportunity. DLKW beat its sister Vauxhall roster agency Lowe to relaunch the Astra. Smaller wins included the launch of the M6 Toll motorway, its former client Scotts awarded it the Evergreen account and Halifax Bank of Scotland awarded it the assignment to launch a new wealth management arm. As for losses, DLKW admirably kept a clean sheet.

DLKW Dialogue, the agency's digital services arm, blossomed in 2003 landing its first independent client win, Orange, and bagging a place on COI's digital roster. The division has expanded its services into direct marketing and sales promotion. A coup was the hiring of Steve Barton, the former head of Leo Burnett's now-defunct digital division Leonardo, as the chief executive to run the enlarged operation.

Creatively, DLKW lacks breadth. Advances hinted at with last year's "hide and seek" spot for the Vauxhall Corsa failed to develop with work for the Meriva. The Department of Health's Adult Sexual Health campaign has been a creative highlight while the agency's first work for Burger King has been pretty standard fare.

To reach its full potential, improving its creative output must be top priority in 2004.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 8

SCORE LAST YEAR: 8

DFGW

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £28m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £36m

Total accounts year end 12

Accounts gained 7

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 40

Company ownership Private company

In an otherwise unremarkable year, DFGW was hit with a bombshell in May when its co-founder Gary Duckworth announced he was to step back from day-to-day management duties after 14 years at the helm.

The loss of Duckworth, one of the finest planners in London, represents a watershed moment for DFGW, leaving the remaining partners with the job of raising their profile to fill the void. The reshuffle will put the joint managing director Hugh Cameron - who was promoted in 2000 to head the planning department - under the microscope in 2004.

2003 saw DFGW hit an identity crisis. Having outgrown the tag of energetic start-up, it is suffering from mid-sized agency growing pains and has so far struggled to put on the real bulk it needs to move to the next tier of the top 20 agencies.

With question-marks over what General Motors will do with its Daewoo business in the long term, DFGW has been searching for a heavyweight creative account to bolster its client base. While it has made the final round of a number of pitches - Age Concern, Tetra Pak, the Food Standards Agency and BT - its failure to convert any large-scale clients is a cause for concern. Disappointingly, DFGW was the only agency shortlisted by BT in its pitch for a third "ideas" agency not to land a place on the roster.

The agency did manage to pick up Hachette Filipacchi UK's creative account for Red magazine.

Creatively, there was, as in the previous year, a reliance on BBC work.

While the agency's Freeview work has seen it take lead status on the roster, more depth is needed in 2004.

As for 2004, rumours of a potential merger or an acquisition persist and it will be interesting to see how potential suitors factor in the loss of Duckworth.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 4

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

DRAFT LONDON

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £20m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £12m

Total accounts year end 23

Accounts gained 8

Accounts lost 1

Total staff 101

Company ownership Interpublic subsidiary

Draft London emerged from a cathartic year in remarkably good health after a major internal restructure and the departure of two of its most senior managers put its business at risk.

In the end, the fears of Sez Maxted, the agency's newly appointed managing partner, proved groundless.

Not only did COI Communications appoint it to handle work for the Government's pension credit scheme and the promotion of higher education but the communications giant Telewest assigned it to its £4 million business-to-business account.

In fact, only one piece of business, Norwich Union, exited the agency over creative differences while nine new ones arrived, helping to generate £3 million in revenue.

It was a creditable record for an operation which might have faced a more uncertain scenario after the resignations of its managing partners, Tony Watson and Ian Taylor.

The pair are believed to have quit over their dissatisfaction over the earlier merger of Draft with Lowe Live. Moreover, there was the marriage of Draft's London and Oxford offices to be completed, including the integration of the creative and digital functions.

For Maxted, previously the managing director of the Oxford operation, overseeing the merger has been a formidable challenge. Oxford was a well-run business with no profile while London was perceived as needing to be galvanised.

Now the combine enters 2004 with two clear priorities. One is to claim the high ground in digital expertise. If DM agencies don't stake out the territory for themselves, other specialists will usurp them, Maxted argues.

The other is to enhance a creative reputation which is perceived as good but needs to be outstanding if the rising awareness of the Draft name and its offering is to be fully exploited.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 6

SCORE LAST YEAR: n/a

EHS BRANN

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £25m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £35m

Total accounts year end 34

Accounts gained 21

Accounts lost 2

Total staff 352

Company ownership Havas subsidiary

Last year was a rollercoaster ride for staff at EHS Brann. Four of its top-tier management left the agency, its prized £20 million AA account reviewed (and parted company in January this year) and its ownership within its troubled French parent Havas was restructured.

2003 was supposed to be the year when EHS Brann built on the merger of EHSrealtime with Brann in 2001 but instead an air of uncertainty hangs over the once-vibrant creative hotshop.

The loss of Microsoft's £10 million direct marketing account to Chemistry in February made for a tough start to the year. The Save the Children business was also on its way, although the blow was softened by an impressive string of wins totting up to 21 by the end of the year.

EHS won the rebranding project for Barclays' Providian credit card and two statutory review pitches beating TBWA\GGT to the Government's National Savings and Investments division and OgilvyOne to Cadbury's.

Of the departing brass, the creative director, Patrick Collister, was first to go, replaced by Trevor Chambers and Lou Dixon, who have split the top creative role. The managing director, Mike Horne, was next off, followed by the commercial director, Louise Wall. John Shaw, the managing director of EHS Brann's European network, left for rival Carlson Marketing.

The chairman, Terry Hunt, recently hired Saatchi & Saatchi's head of integration, Matt Atkinson, a former chief executive of Interfocus and the managing director of Tequila\London, as the managing director. Both have their work cut out to ensure EHS Brann can stand its ground since Brann, EHS Brann's mother brand, was tucked under the Euro RSCG Worldwide Group umbrella globally by Havas.

The move, triggered by the loss of IBM by Brann in the US in September, could, in theory, revive the agency's fortunes in 2004.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 3

SCORE LAST YEAR: 4

EURO RSCG LONDON

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £238m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £221m

Total accounts year end 41

Accounts gained 11

Accounts lost 4

Total staff 270

Company ownership Havas subsidiary

The agency whose name changed to Euro RSCG London in January this year was formed in September 2003 from the merger of two fairly unremarkable Havas agencies, Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper and Partners BDDH.

Before they merged, neither were performing well enough to justify keeping them apart. Euro RSCG had won Vision Express and Cap Gemini but neither win could cover the wound left by the end of its nine-year relationship with Abbey, nor the loss of Expedia. Partners BDDH had won the British Heart Foundation's anti-smoking brief, but little else of significant size.

The departure of Euro RSCG's chairman, Brett Gosper, to McCann-Erickson in New York pre-merger, and the co-chairman and executive creative director, Mark Wnek, leaving for Ben Mark Orlando post-merger, has led critics to comment that the management line-up now lacks colour. And while dropping the names Wnek and Gosper gives the agency a fresh start, it also draws attention to the fact that two of its biggest personalities are gone.

The management is led by Euro RSCG's Chris Pinnington as the chairman, backed by the chief executive, Nigel Long, and the managing directors, Adam Leigh and Simon Toaldo. A lot rests on the new management to prove the combine can live up to its lofty position as a top three UK agency.

Responsibility will fall heavily on the executive creative director, Nick Hastings, who along with the recently hired creative group heads, Colin Lamberton and Seyoan Vela, will be looking to improve its creative offering.

The agency will be hampered by the usual post-merger headache of ensuring two working cultures combine effectively and clients are settled. Plus there's the worry of streamlining the business sufficiently to help cash-strapped parent Havas meet its cost-cutting targets.

SCORE THIS YEAR: -

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

FALLON

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £28m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £19m

Total accounts year end 13

Accounts gained 4

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 70

Company ownership Publicis subsidiary

In 2003, Fallon showed impressive billings growth and once again maintained the high creative standards with which it has become synonymous.

The agency has developed a reputation for producing solid ads under the unswerving guidance of its stable management team and 2003 only served to reinforce that image.

Indeed, if the fiercely contested Sony win in 2002 proved Fallon had come of age, then the resulting £70 million pan-European integrated campaign was further evidence of the agency's growing maturity.

The consistent high standard of work did not go unnoticed at the awards ceremonies. The agency scooped the top accolade for its "street music" ad for BBC Radio 1 Xtra at the 2003 British Television Advertising Awards.

Ben & Jerry's made an appearance in the Campaign Poster Awards 2003, collecting the silver and a commendation for the best use of typography, while "golf" for United Airlines earned a gold in the transport and travel category at the British Television Advertising Awards.

When they weren't devoting their energies to coming up with award-winning ads, the Fallon partners occupied their time muscling on to the BT roster - no easy achievement by any means.

There were more BBC triumphs in the shape of BBC Summer and Digital Radio to bolster the agency's already strong portfolio with the broadcasting corporation. But otherwise, 2003 did not measure up to the conquests of the previous year.

Perhaps a cause for concern will be the agency's lack of presence on any of the year's "big" pitchlists. Indeed, only four new clients were enticed into the Fallon fold in an otherwise quiet year for new business, but the creative output will stand it in good stead for 2004.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 7

SCORE LAST YEAR: 7

GREY LONDON

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £177m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £151m

Total accounts year end 40

Accounts gained 8

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 216

Company ownership Grey Global Group subsidiary

Grey London's hiring of Garry Lace as its chief executive was always going to be a high-risk strategy. Lace is a colourful character who can work wonders for an agency's profile and get it on to the kind of pitchlists it might once have dreamt about. But, as recent events have proved, he's also someone with a short attention span who polarises opinion. Now the agency has had to suffer the consequences of the fact that Lace has made some vengeful enemies.

Lace's first full year in charge was one of great upheaval: the old guard purged; a fifth of the workforce axed; the 25-strong board replaced with a coterie of like-minded managers.

The result is a refreshed top team, each one in their 30s and recruited from a leading creative agency. In the executive creative director, Dave Alberts (ex-Mojo Partners, Australia), the managing director, Chris Hirst (ex-Fallon), and the respective new-business and planning chiefs, Nicola Mendelsohn and Dylan Williams (both ex-Bartle Bogle Hegarty), Lace assembled a team that belies Grey's old starchy image.

Last year was a cathartic period for Grey but gain seemed to be following pain. The agency's record suggested it was starting to fulfil Lace's declared aim to become a more potent contender for local business. But the jury is still out on whether it is a more effective partner for its bedrock international clients Mars, Procter & Gamble and GlaxoSmithKline.

Wins such as Visa International, Air Miles and AOL represent the kind of business Grey wouldn't have had a snowball's chance in hell of capturing two years ago. Equally importantly, Grey's out-of-character work for Utterly Butterly attracted some attention.

However, as is now apparent, Lace's shameless courting of publicity can work both ways. If Grey didn't fully understand this before, it certainly does now.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 5

SCORE LAST YEAR: 4

HARRISON TROUGHTON WUNDERMAN

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £2m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £6m

Total accounts year end 23

Accounts gained 3

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 88

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Harrison Troughton Wunderman is certainly not the only below-the-line outfit to have produced an impressive body of creative work in 2003, but if success is measured in awards the agency has no rivals. Five silver gongs at the Campaign Direct Awards in spring were followed by a gold, a silver and a bronze Lion at Cannes in June. Then, in December, more success at the DMA Royal Mail Awards. The agency converted its record haul of 16 nominations into 16 accolades, five of which were gold. Impressive campaigns for Xerox, IBM and Vodafone throughout the year were accompanied by further instalments of the award-winning M&G Investments long-copy campaign.

But while HTW's creative work was enough to secure it the Campaign Agency of the Year title in 2002, last year the agency was one or two big account wins away from being in contention. The new-business highlight came in the summer when HTW won Yahoo!. It also landed briefs from Healthplan and The Marketing Society. It was not a championship haul, but HTW was not the only below-the-line outfit to struggle with new business in 2003.

The agency held on to all of its existing business and has now not lost an account since the AA departed at the end of 2001.

Throughout the year, HTW dabbled in a series on interesting research initiatives, developing relationships with both the Havard School of Business and Dr Alan Tapp - a marketing research expert from Bristol Business School.

It also launched a joint initiative with its WPP stablemate Mediaedge:cia designed to use data more efficiently for media planning.

With its client list and creative reputation intact, HTW starts 2004 in good shape. However, the agency must leverage its creative credentials to ensure it again features on the few big DM pitchlists around at present.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 7

SCORE LAST YEAR: 9

HHCL/RED CELL

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £73m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £75m

Total accounts year end 22

Accounts gained 11

Accounts lost 1

Total staff 94

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Perhaps the most apposite observation on HHCL/Red Cell's state of health last year was made by Jim Bolton, the creative responsible for much of its iconic Tango work, on his return to the agency. "The place has been a bit down in the mouth but now seems to be buzzing again," he declared.

A total of £54 million of new business, giving it sixth spot in Campaign's business performance league; the capture of Sky TV, its biggest ever account win; no redundancies at a time when most major agencies were forced to swing the axe and only one account loss - the Robinsons soft drinks business, which had to be cut loose because of network conflict with Coca-Cola.

All are symptoms of a new confidence at HHCL and a far cry from the previous year when the agency, once a trailblazer in producing advertising for a new breed of savvy and sophisticated consumers, had become a shadow of its former self as a string of account losses enfeebled it.

Today, its £4 million transfer from the then cash-strapped Chime Communications to become the European flagship of WPP's Red Cell looks like a bargain.

Indeed, the deal seems to have been mutually advantageous. Red Cell has gained a significant building block from which to promote itself as the most innovatively creative of Sir Martin Sorrell's networks; HHCL has gained a new hunger and motivation from being a key player in an international team.

Its new confidence manifested itself not only in new government-backed assignments promoting the Food Standards Agency and disability awareness but some creative chinks of light with the "odd couples" campaign for Sky Plus and the multi award-winning "slag of all snacks" for Pot Noodle.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 6

SCORE LAST YEAR: 2

HOOPER GALTON

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £15m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £12m

Total accounts year end 14

Accounts gained 4

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 26

Company ownership Private company

2003 was the year that people became curious about Hooper Galton.

The reason was simple: it won top honours at Campaign's Press Awards and Cannes for its "age of terror" ad for the Discovery Channel.

The agency, set up four years ago by the former Bartle Bogle Hegarty creatives Steve Hooper and Martin Galton, had been slow to make a mark on the industry. However, its new-found creative fame was put to good use in new-business terms: wins included Oddbins, Virgin Radio, Shelter and Emap's New Woman. Existing clients, including House of Fraser, New Covent Garden and Discovery Foods, all extended their relationship with the agency.

It also kept The Soil Association's account, after a three-way pitch against Saatchi & Saatchi and J. Walter Thompson. The win, though tiny, is representative of the current move towards small, independent agencies, a trend which Hooper Galton is in a good position to benefit from.

The operation is strong and growing, but must prove in 2004 that its creative flair is sustainable. It must also secure some more mainstream clients.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 6

SCORE LAST YEAR: n/a

J. WALTER THOMPSON

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £286m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £245m

Total accounts year end 32

Accounts gained 8

Accounts lost 1

Total staff n/s

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

For J. Walter Thompson the majority of 2003 was over-shadowed by the long and ultimately fruitless struggle to retain Boots.

WPP's global tenure on the £44 million creative business was first threatened in July and despite clawing its way to the final shoot-out, the London shop was finally forced to relinquish one of its key accounts after years of high-street underperformance.

Having seen off the favourite, Publicis, falling at the last was a blow for the agency yet to shake off its "old-fashioned" label. It is not for want of trying - once again, moves were implemented to improve its creative output. A much-needed revamp of the creative department included the summer appointment of the D&AD president, Nick Bell, as the creative director to replace Jaspar Shelbourne.

Bell was joined by the much-vaunted director and freelance writer Tom Carty and the creative team of Anita Davis and Jonathan Budds from Leo Burnett, who it is hoped will bring energy to the agency's Knightsbridge office. Indeed, 2003 did show signs of a creative recovery. After a somewhat barren spell on the awards front, the senior account planner Fern Miller picked up top honours at the year's Account Planning Group Creative Planning Awards, scooping the Grand Prix for Kit Kat.

An energetic new-business performance for the year saw the agency awarded the lion's share of the now defunct Bates business. In addition, the £32 million B&Q account was shifted into JWT while other wins included the AXA account, Golden Wonder and Auto Trader.

Great creativity and JWT haven't always been synonymous but in 2003 the agency nailed its creative colours to the mast. Now it will have to wait and see how well they fly.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 4

SCORE LAST YEAR: 5

KARMARAMA

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £6m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £6m

Total accounts year end 4

Accounts gained 1

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 16

Company ownership Private company

Karmarama, the communications agency set up three years ago by Naresh Ramchandani and Dave Buonaguidi, took shape in 2003 with a credible new-business performance, senior management changes and high-profile campaigns.

One key development was that the bulk of its clients moved from being project-based to retained. UKTV, Ikea, Emap Performance and VH-1 are now all retained clients, adding up to declared billings of £12 million.

Although 70 per cent of the agency's income is derived from advertising, its moment of fame in 2003 was the result of guerilla activity for the anti-war movement. Karmarama's "Make Tea Not War" signs even earned the agency a namecheck in The Economist.

The agency's growth led it to build a more structured management. It appointed Paddy Barnes as its managing director with a place on its board in the summer. It also began the recruitment of Matt James and Vic Polkinhorne from Lowe.

Another signal of maturity was its decision to join the IPA, announced in the autumn.

This year, its merger with Outfit has gone through, securing it the entirety of the Ikea account and adding further key staff. Outfit's Ben Bilboul and Nick Barham also join its board.

The changes have put Karmarama in a strong position for growth in 2004.

As clients increasingly shun networks for the smaller hotshops, Karmarama is ready to bid for some of the spoils.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 6

SCORE LAST YEAR: n/a

LEITH

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £37m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £39m

Total accounts year end 36

Accounts gained 14

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 77

Company ownership Private company

Leith became the sole Scottish agency with a London presence in 2003 following the liquidation of Faulds Advertising. But rather than going the same way as its beleaguered former rival, Leith has enjoyed a prosperous 12 months. It did not lose any business and won another 14 accounts to further cement its existence in the English capital.

In Scotland, the agency expanded, integrating its direct marketing sister, Oneagency, into the Edinburgh office.

Whereas 2002 was distinguished by winning small pieces of business, 2003 saw the agency appointed to more substantial accounts. These included adding Coors Lite to its £26 million portfolio of Coors Brewers' accounts, Standard Life Bank and the £2 million Optical Express account.

Leith London was also successful in securing the relaunch of the low-calorie hot chocolate drink Options after a pitch against Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R. And it went up against the Campaign of the Year, 118 118, with the launch of Independent Radio News' directory enquiries service called Maureen.

Indeed, after a period of consolidation, the agency finally began to show signs of fulfilling its creative potential. There was more humorous work for Carling, including a poster campaign for Extra Cold, which received a commendation in the best alcoholic drinks category at the Campaign Poster Awards.

Such solid creative work came despite early uncertainty over the agency's future - J. Walter Thompson was rumoured to have opened talks about buying Leith's Edinburgh and London offices, but the talks collapsed in June.

Scottish agencies may now be an endangered species but if Leith continues 2004 where it left off in 2003, it can only generate greater belief in its brand.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 6

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

LEO BURNETT

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £208m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £254m

Total accounts year end 22

Accounts gained 3

Accounts lost 2

Total staff n/s

Company ownership Publicis subsidiary

Leo Burnett went into 2003 with its potentially tricky merger with D'Arcy behind it. But under its group chief executive, Bruce Haines, the agency had a steady, rather than sterling, year.

The agency fended off any domestic reviews that resulted from the merger and to date has maintained its favoured position on COI Communications' roster.

The beginning of the year saw the departure of the managing director, Kate Howe. This was quickly followed by the exit of the executive creative director, Nick Bell, who quit to join J. Walter Thompson. This provided the clean break with the past that Haines needed.

His appointment in May of Mother's Jim Thornton and Wieden & Kennedy's Paul Shearer as the joint executive creative directors was well received.

However, their impact has not yet been felt.

The agency fared well in international new business, picking up the global Wella and Polaroid accounts. It also beat DDB and TBWA to the global Big Mac brief from McDonald's. Its domestic new-business highlight was Bulmers, the culmination of a closely fought pitch against some of London's finest agencies.

However, the agency has been noticeably absent from any the year's other key domestic shortlists.

Haines sold off the Made subsidiary he had set up in 2002 as part of his vision for the agency. The agency's forced relocation to West Kensington is an unpopular move with staff.

Overall, the pieces are in place for Burnett to enjoy a strong 2004.

An improved new-business drive is a must, as is a return to the kind of creative fame it enjoyed in 2000.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 5

SCORE LAST YEAR: n/a

LOWE

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £219m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £275m

Total accounts year end 25

Accounts gained 7

Accounts lost 1

Total staff 280

Company ownership Interpublic subsidiary

Matthew Bull wouldn't have been human if he hadn't sometimes questioned his own wisdom in quitting his native land last year to take charge of Lowe in London.

The mercurial South African's first months in charge have been highly frustrating. A big brand has been realigned, a major pitch lost.

All this at a time when the passionate and ambitious Bull, drafted in to replace the ousted Chris Thomas, has had to drive through some radical restructuring.

The unwieldy board was dismantled, with Russ Lidstone replacing Joanna Bamford as the planning director and the long-serving Paul Weinberger taking the chairman's post to provide stability and continuity after Paul Edwards' departure.

Meanwhile, Tony Barry, never comfortable with his promotion to joint executive creative director, left for Clemmow Hornby Inge, leaving Damon Collins in full creative control.

Given such upheavals, it's unsurprising Lowe has a way to go to regain its equilibrium. The loss of Unilever's £8 million Surf pan-European business to Bartle Bogle Hegarty was a significant setback; so was its defeat to Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners in the pitch for the £12 million Vauxhall Astra launch and the agency could only delay a global review of its £40 million Braun business.

However, it did scoop the £15 million pan-European launch of a Johnson & Johnson personal care range and Nestle reaffirmed its support by asking Lowe to turn Baci, its Italian premium chocolate brand, into a rival to Ferrero Rocher in the UK. Meanwhile, the agency was given lead status on the $50 million Electrolux pan-European and North American accounts.

Bull's brand of purgative medicine is a heady brew. This year may prove if Lowe has the stomach for it.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 2

SCORE LAST YEAR: 2

M&C SAATCHI

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £233m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £251m

Total accounts year end 28

Accounts gained 5

Accounts lost 2

Total staff 278

Company ownership Private company

By its usual new-business standards, 2003 was a downbeat year for M&C Saatchi.

With British Gas and the Royal Mail both eluding it, the agency had to settle for more modest accounts, and even some of those were questionable long-term prospects - notably London's 2012 Olympic bid and Somerfield, whose chances of continued independence in the vicious supermarket wars are doubtful.

Moreover, two other well-known names on its client list simply withered away. A four-year relationship with the cash-strapped MG Rover ended, the car-maker opting for less expensive agency arrangements. At the same time, Matalan, the discount clothing retail company, claimed to be worth £30 million when it was won in 2002, took its business in-house.

Although the agency drew consolation from the fact that both accounts left because of business problems beyond advertising's control, their exit came when spending levels were mixed among other clients. However, NatWest boosted its spend to sustain its position as one of the most consistent financial advertisers. So did British Airways, locked in a perpetual dogfight with the low-cost operators.

With client budgets and new business likely to remain problematic, it would be surprising if the agency didn't further diversify its offering, particularly in the areas of internal and corporate communications and design.

Meanwhile, it will certainly be looking to exploit the potential of existing clients, notably GlaxoSmithKline, which awarded it the Lucozade Sport business at the beginning of last year, Nestle, COI Communications and NatWest's RBS parent.

Nor would it be surprising to see the agency following Bartle Bogle Hegarty's lead in hunting global advertisers wanting creativity from a single source without a network's overheads.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 5

SCORE LAST YEAR: 7

MAHER BIRD ASSOCIATES

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £10m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £8m

Total accounts year end 12

Accounts gained 3

Accounts lost 1

Total staff 45

Company ownership Majority-owned by Omnicom

Maher Bird Associates greeted 2003 with a management restructure designed to drive new business and improve the agency's profile, which has hitherto been non-existent.

Simon Dodd, a former partner at MBA's Omnicom sibling TBWA\London, was promoted to managing director after joining just six months previously as a managing partner. He replaced Graham Monk, who took the new position of deputy chairman to focus on new business.

The year didn't start well, with the jewellery company Signet, which owns the Ernest Jones and H Samuel high-street chains, departing after just six months. The biggest blow of the year - creatively, if not financially - came in May with the loss of the £2 million account for the DaimlerChrysler-owned car brand Smart. The direct account for Air Miles landed (no doubt helped by the client's above-the-line relationship with TBWA) and then left when the entire business moved to Grey.

Not known for attracting sexy clients, MBA nonetheless plugged the holes left by departing business with some solid wins. In February, it picked up the £5 million integrated account for Office World. August saw the trophy w

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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