TOP 300 AGENCIES: Top media agency profiles

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

If there is a theme for the UK media agency scene's 2003, it is vicissitude, particularly on the account front: MPG lost Orange, MediaCom lost P&G, while Carat lost Cadbury and Abbey National. Stability and regrowth are the themes to hope for 2004.

BJK&E

PRINCIPALS: TIM IRWIN, JAMES JENNINGS

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £59m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £60m

TV billings 30%

Press billings 50%

Outdoor billings 13%

Radio billings 3%

New-media billings 1%

Other 3%

Total accounts year end 33

Accounts gained 2

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 26

Company ownership: WPP subsidiary

BJK&E is not known for making a big splash in the market, but last year was especially quiet.

The agency's management should be given credit for retaining their accounts - they have lost nothing for more than three years. The agency's finances are in good health too. But there is precious little else for the diminutive agency to shout about.

Just two new additions to its client list, a £1 million assignment for Atlas Editions and the £10 million consumer and business account for Canon, were the only new-business highlights.

No-one disputes that BJK&E produces effective work for its clients, but relying on a handful of key accounts, such as the Financial Times and DaimlerChrysler, smacks of complacency.

It is increasingly difficult for small media shops to go it alone in the UK, but a glance at BJK&E's counterparts at Walker Media shows that it is not impossible and Walker does not enjoy BJK&E's luxury of being plugged into a global communications company.

What BJK&E needs is some positioning. The restructure that removed all media specialisms at the agency was a start but perhaps its biggest hope is its forthcoming inclusion in WPP's Group M negotiation proposition, which will give BJK&E some scale. Hopefully, this will also give the management the impetus to achieve something more creditable next year.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 4

SCORE LAST YEAR: 5

BLM Media

PRINCIPALS: STEVE BOOTH, NICK LOCKETT, CHARLIE MAKIN

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £37m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £34m

TV billings 40%

Press billings 30%

Outdoor billings 8%

Radio billings 4%

New-media billings 8%

Other 10%

Total accounts year end 67

Accounts gained 9

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 81

Company ownership: Private company

BLM's continued prosperity perplexes a hell of a lot of people and is a downright irritant to more than a few. Because, of course, BLM is an affront to all prevailing media business theories. In every one of the past (at least) five years, there have been rumours that it's about to go out of business - and the assumption is that the directors are focusing most of their energies trying to flog the company before it goes under.

Meanwhile, in the real world, BLM keeps growing by winning new clients while holding on to the ones it already has. Its ability to win new business is perhaps not unconnected with its ability to win IPA Effectiveness Awards - a record three in 2003. Last year, it also decided to a have a real laugh by gatecrashing Campaign's new-business league table, finishing in sixth place with £15.8 million in the credit column. Highlights included Young's Bluecrest, Pathe Film Distribution and Character Options. Turnover was up by almost 50 per cent and profits soared by a whopping 300 per cent.

Obviously, it can't last, though - and it's not hard to predict what's in store for BLM in 2004. It's ridiculous to imagine there can really be much of a future for the UK's largest and most successful privately owned media independent. Isn't it?

SCORE THIS YEAR: 6

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

CARAT

PRINCIPAL: COLIN MILLS

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £519m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £563m

TV billings 56%

Press billings 24%

Outdoor billings 9%

Radio billings 6%

New-media billings 3%

Other 2%

Total accounts year end 267

Accounts gained 12

Accounts lost 5

Total staff 318

Company ownership: Aegis subsidiary

2003 was the year that the wheels seemed to fall off for Carat. The loss of long-standing and big-spending clients such as Abbey National and Cadbury must have caused great pain to an agency that had prided itself on its client retention record.

But leave they did, and the new ones were hardly of a calibre to satisfactorily fill the void. Indeed, its new-business record - Club Med, Gametrac and so on - looks more like what you'd find at a regional media independent.

But against this meagre effort, Carat attempted to innovate to derive additional revenues away from the agency's core planning and buying service. With this, it had some success. Carat Insight, Carat Sport and the agency's data planning division all helped see Carat through a pretty disappointing year.

Other changes included the launch of Carat Direct Communications under the former Prager Proximity deputy managing director, Helen Davies, and a merger of the press and broadcast departments saw Carat's Mark Jarvis take the top job. This resulted in the unfortunate departure of the press director, Tim Kirkman.

As Carat's performance in the Campaign Media Awards shows, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the agency. However, it seems it really needs to sort out its client servicing. With the strength of the Aegis resource and the size of its buying clout, there is no excuse for a repeat performance this year.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 4

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

INITIATIVE

PRINCIPAL: JERRY HILL

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £415m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £366m

TV billings 58%

Press billings 23.5%

Outdoor billings 11.6%

Radio billings 3.5%

New-media billings 0%

Other 3.4%

Total accounts year end 50

Accounts gained 9

Accounts lost 2

Total staff 182

Company ownership: Interpublic subsidiary

The sleeping giant that was Initiative opened its eyes, stretched its legs and went out on a new-business rampage in 2003.

It dominated Campaign's new-business performance league with £96 million in wins, the bulk from France Telecom's Orange and Freeserve brands.

Though the suspicion remains this was a deal brokered in Paris, credit must still go to Initiative's UK team for bouncing back from reviews of its Unilever and General Motors business (both retained) to go out with such energy into the market.

The agency also won the £22 million Saab business from its IPG sibling Universal McCann (as part of the General Motors review), ICI Paints, Samsung UK, Continental Tyres and Eastpak. Its losses were paltry, just Jack Daniels and Leapfrog.

Management was generally stable under the chief executive, Jerry Hill.

Roy Jeans, previously heading Unilever in the UK, moved over to the sister negotiations unit Magna Global and Gary Birtles was promoted to managing director. Initiative's biggest loss was that of its planning director, Tim Allnutt, to Naked Inside, mid-pitch on Orange. But the agency coped well, and welcomed the returning Tony Manwaring to replace Allnutt.

Initiative launched its global "expect more" positioning in July, reflecting its intention to move beyond traditional planning and buying. It also dropped the "Media" suffix from its name.

In 2003, Initiative showed the new-business dynamism we asked of it the previous year. Now it must impose this excitement on to client business.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 8

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

MANNING GOTTLIEB OMD

PRINCIPAL: NICK MANNING

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £255m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £199m

TV billings 48%

Press billings 32%

Outdoor billings 12%

Radio billings 3%

New-media billings 5%

Other 0%

Total accounts year end 116

Accounts gained 35

Accounts lost 2

Total staff 120

Company ownership: Omnicom subsidiary

The wheels were whirring in Nick Manning's entrepreneurial workshop in 2003 as Manning Gottlieb OMD's year was characterised by several major deals.

Just as well really, as the agency's new-business machine wasn't on top form. It won the large EDF Energy account, COI Modern Apprenticeships, Interflora, Jazz FM and T&T drinks but lost Npower, as a result of the EDF win, and Teletext.

Virgin Mobile also moved its £15 million planning business into a start-up agency launched by the Manning Gottlieb directors Andrew Stephens and Ben Hayes. Sensing an opportunity, Manning opened negotiations to invest in it.

In January, Manning Gottlieb backed the former Mediahead managing director, Peter Thomson, in his M2M venture.

Manning Gottlieb also joined forces with its sibling TBWA\London to launch TBWA\Connections, a communications planning unit. The agency dissolved its share of ownership in The Allmond Partnership and made a deal with Burkitt DDB to handle its outdoor and TV buying.

Manning Gottlieb also launched its own in-house planning function, The Source, and hired the former Mirror Group ad director, Neil Hurman, to run it.

The agency lost its head of investment, John McGeogh, but brought in Phil Nunn to run its direct channels activity and Ron Mudge to run the AA account.

Work was consistently strong, particularly for the AA and PlayStation.

In 2004, the agency must retain its key personnel and hope that The Source can help it win more new business.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 6

SCORE LAST YEAR: 8

MEDIACOM

PRINCIPAL: STEPHEN ALLAN

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £611m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £550m

TV billings 42.7%

Press billings 33.9%

Outdoor billings 6.1%

Radio billings 3.8%

New-media billings 2%

Other 11.5%

Total accounts year end 185

Accounts gained 16

Accounts lost 3

Total staff 337

Company ownership: Grey Global Group subsidiary

Like the boyband Westlife in the pop charts, MediaCom has dominated recent proceedings at the top of the media hit parade.

But early in 2003, there were signs that its popularity might be waning. Its proud boast of not having lost a client for two years was ended by the loss of Procter & Gamble planning: the business moved into the Publicis agencies Starcom MediaVest Group and ZenithOptimedia.

This was a blow to an agency that in 2001 and 2002 had established itself as a top planning agency.

It also lost the much smaller Sofa Workshop and Hendersons accounts.

But, relatively quietly, MediaCom had a more successful year than many would think.

It won 16 accounts, including the £40 million Boots business in December, the £8 million Cancer Research business, Center Parcs, Britannia Music and Churchill Insurance.

Momentous news came in May when Allan Rich, MediaCom's chairman and a pioneer of the UK media independent scene, finally left MediaCom. His gold jewellery is already missed around its Euston office. Otherwise, management was stable with the chief executive, Stephen Allan, and the joint managing directors, Nick Lawson and Jane Ratcliffe, still running things.

Ending the year with a bang, winning Boots as Westlife's Mandy hit number one, shows that MediaCom was back at the top. Its consistently strong management team and "closer to clients" positioning has served it well.

But perhaps in 2004 it needs to inject more creative sparkle into its act.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 7

SCORE LAST YEAR: 9

MEDIAEDGE:CIA

PRINCIPAL: ROB NORMAN

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £199m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £200m

TV billings 51%

Press billings 29%

Outdoor billings 13%

Radio billings 2%

New-media billings 5%

Other 0%

Total accounts year end 134

Accounts gained 14

Accounts lost 6

Total staff 200

Company ownership: WPP subsidiary.

It would be easy to judge Mediaedge:cia against the loss of yet another long-standing client - UIP - but this would be a mistake. In fact, much was achieved following a dismal 2002 that saw the vultures hovering over the agency account list.

The departure of the management duo Fiona McAnena and James Whitmore in favour of Rob Norman was a good move (although Norman's subsequent decision to employ Matt James as the agency's shortlived managing director was not).

Norman has provided Mediaedge:cia with a leadership and vision that was lacking. Among his first achievements was creating a strategic partnership with Wunderman to offer clients the joint planning and execution of campaigns.

Elsewhere, the respected sponsorship division Total Sponsorship was integrated into the agency and became MEC Sponsorship. It picked up more Norwich Union business and the WPP challenger brands shop, Media Insight, was integrated into the offering.

While it lost UIP (despite years of producing effective work) and Revlon, new business proved elusive. The agency has however strengthened its position on the COI Communications roster but this has not halted its slip down the billings league.

Given the agency's rollercoaster ride, Group M may prove something of a lifeline. However, with Norman there is at least a vision for the agency.

While he has done a creditable job creating a distinctive proposition, he cannot be expected to do this alone and needs to recruit well to move the agency forward.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 3

SCORE LAST YEAR: 2

MEDIA PLANNING GROUP

PRINCIPAL: MARC MENDOZA

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £137m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £118m

TV billings 43%

Press billings 34%

Outdoor billings 7%

Radio billings 5%

New-media billings 7%

Other 4%

Total accounts year end 60

Accounts gained 4

Accounts lost 2

Total staff 85

Company ownership: Havas subsidiary

An unfortunate year for MPG was dominated by the loss of Orange, which ended a long and productive relationship. The fact that the loss was part of a bigger-picture European alignment by Orange's French parent company provided little consolation for the London office of MPG.

When a year becomes coloured in that sort of way, the focus has to be on how you respond - and much credit goes to MPG for not succumbing to the standard knee-jerk reaction of mass redundancies. Morale has held up.

Over the year MPG picked up four new accounts including the £6 million Gucci Group business. Overall, the agency's 2003 billings paint a respectable picture, up £19 million on 2002, though the Orange loss is yet to hit the Nielsen figures. The departure of the £10 million Expedia account was another significant blow, although MPG's digital arm, Media Contacts, held on to the online buying business.

Looking forward, the agency is telling anyone who will listen that it intends to come storming back this year - a higher visibility in the marketplace, a stronger brand with greater product differentiation. But it has its work cut out. While rivals have been reinventing themselves with their strategic communications consultancy credentials to the fore, MPG has seemed ever more like just another outpost of Havas. And international issues will continue to exert their inexorable pressures. Never mind MPG, is there even a place for Havas in a consolidating world?

SCORE THIS YEAR: 3

SCORE LAST YEAR: 5

MICHAELIDES & BEDNASH

PRINCIPALS: GEORGE MICHAELIDES, GRAHAM BEDNASH

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 -

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 -

TV billings 33%

Press billings 15%

Outdoor billings 25%

Radio billings 6%

New-media billings 6%

Other 15%

Total accounts year end 14

Accounts gained 8

Accounts lost 1

Total staff 19

Company ownership: Private company

Straddling both media and creative worlds, Michaelides & Bednash occupies a unique and pioneering position. Once again it has fulfilled its remit creditably.

In last year's Top 300 we called on M&B to prove itself by landing a big account. This it did. In June, the agency won Unilever's pan-European yellow fats brand Family Brands across ten European countries. While this may be an unfamiliar brand in the UK, it annually spends £60 million on communications. The agency also won a global brief from Diageo to work on J&B in key markets.

Closer to home, M&B continued to create interesting and talked-about work. Its campaigns for Big Brother and Six Feet Under for Channel 4 were striking, and its maiden work for the fashion retailer New Look, which it won from HHCL & Partners, was also innovative.

On the other side of the ledger book, the agency lost the strategy account for Xfm to Rocket and its grip on Channel 4 was loosened as the station's E4 and FilmFour channels moved to Naked. As long as this is all that is lost from its flagship Channel 4 account, there seems little to worry about. On the management floor, the loss of the managing partner Matt Andrews to Vizeum UK, where he joined as the head of strategy, barely caused a ripple.

M&B continues to do what it has always done well - pioneering new ways of connecting brands with target audiences and creating brand experiences.

For that, and for its new-business record, it can look back on 2003 with some satisfaction and to 2004 with confidence.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 6

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

MINDSHARE

PRINCIPAL: KELLY CLARK

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £557m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £481m

TV billings 54%

Press billings 21%

Outdoor billings 10%

Radio billings 5%

New-media billings 4%

Other 6%

Total accounts year end 59

Accounts gained 10

Accounts lost 3

Total staff 280

Company ownership: WPP subsidiary

Although the loss of Boots put a major dampener on 2003, MindShare can look back with satisfaction on the structural changes it made and the way in which its "House of Media" proposition finally came to life.

This, combined with a reinvigorated domestic marketing and new-business effort, was why MindShare was elected Campaign's Media Agency of the Year.

MindShare's year started in style when it won new business from the likes of Nestle, Abbey and Argos. The end of the year was less gratifying as The Telegraph Group and the aforementioned Boots walked out the other way.

Nonetheless, in another dismal new-business year all round, MindShare at last found itself on pitchlists.

But it wasn't just about account moves - it was also about the creation of a rock-solid management team and structure that finally fulfils MindShare's much-vaunted network position. Kelly Clark has assembled a crack management squad and at the end of 2003, the final touches were made as the respected Jed Glanvill was promoted to managing director.

MindShare now offers advertisers greater breadth and depth of offering than ever before with the opening of cause-related marketing, film and data planning rooms in the House of Media and advertisers such as Nestle are using this to great effect.

The challenge for MindShare now is to avoid the temptation to rest on its laurels but the creation of WPP's centralised negotiation function, Group M, should keep the management busy. It must ensure that with the creation of Group M, MindShare's position as WPP's golden child is not threatened in order to bail out its sickly sister, Mediaedge:cia.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 9

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

NAKED COMMUNICATIONS

PRINCIPAL: JOHN HARLOW

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 -

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 -

TV billings n/a

Press billings n/a

Outdoor billings n/a

Radio billings n/a

New-media billings n/a

Other n/a

Total accounts year end 40

Accounts gained 16

Accounts lost 1

Total staff 35

Company ownership: Private company

Where do you start with Naked? Emperor's-clothes-wearing parvenus or genius strategists intent on reshaping the media agency landscape?

Based on 2003, probably somewhere in-between. Essentially Naked picked up where it left off in 2002, winning plenty of accounts, awards and kudos.

Its big wins were the Orange planning account, Abbey National, Dulux and Expedia. Its award-winning work was for Honda and The Number (118 118), the latter winning Campaign's Campaign of the Year.

On the people side, Naked got busy. It hired Tracy Darwen, formerly of Starcom Motive and Stella Artois, as the managing director of its main agency. It also put its first management structure in place, dividing the business into three units, and hired the finance director, Barry Dudley.

It also had to come to terms with managing growth and decided to invest in spin-off agencies rather than building one large business. The first of these was Naked Inside, a joint venture with Clemmow Hornby Inge. It hired Initiative's planning director, Tim Allnutt, to run this.

Late in the year, it announced the launch of a sister agency, Naked Ambition, that will be run separately by the Mediaedge:cia managing director, Matt James. It is in talks with Grey over the creative agency taking a significant stake. James will face the challenge of emulating the success of the main Naked brand this year.

Naked's 2004 will be defined by its ability to create more standout work for clients, along the lines of 118 118, and the ability of its new faces and new brands to build on its success.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 8

SCORE LAST YEAR: 9

OMD UK

PRINCIPAL: PAUL TAYLOR

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £427m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £400m

TV billings 62%

Press billings 17%

Outdoor billings 7%

Radio billings 10%

New-media billings 1%

Other 3%

Total accounts year end 71

Accounts gained 17

Accounts lost 1

Total staff 130

Company ownership: Omnicom subsidiary

At face value, much seems to have been achieved at OMD UK in 2003 but a great deal of the credit must be handed to the chief executive of OMD Europe, Colin Gottlieb. His blossoming network has secured a large amount of juicy business for the UK branch to work on.

2003 really was the year that OMD came into play on the global stage.

This is reflected in wins for the UK agency including the massive McDonald's brief, the budget airline easyJet and the insurance giant Allianz.

Domestically, OMD also had a relatively good year. This may come as a surprise given how introverted the OMD UK management team seems to be.

Wins tended to be on the smaller scale - English Heritage, Tropicana, the Canadian Tourist Board and the like - but they were numerous and consistently converted. On the other side of the coin, losses such as Halfords were also on the smaller end of the spectrum. Also importantly, OMD managed to prevent Axa from reviewing its business at the 11th hour.

OMD UK must ensure it successfully beds down this new business, and for McDonald's at least, the agency will have to be consistently at the top of its game.

The agency's management team must be careful to resist complacency. It's no good opting for the easy route of hanging off Gottlieb's coat-tails when there are plenty of medium-to-large domestic accounts that the agency is more than capable of handling. It is up to the agency's stable but low-key management team to confound its detractors and achieve something of their own accord.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 7

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

PHD

PRINCIPALS: JONATHAN DURDEN, TESS ALPS

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £263m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £276m

TV billings 50%

Press billings 24%

Outdoor billings 15%

Radio billings 9%

New-media billings 0%

Other 2%

Total accounts year end 65

Accounts gained 17

Accounts lost 3

Total staff 172

Company ownership: Omnicom subsidiary

PHD has always had a much cleverer positioning than most, having advocated media-neutral planning years before it became a buzzword, then a cliche. Last year's management restructure saw this positioning strengthened.

Recognising that other new strategic communications consultancies were in danger of stealing its clothes, elevating Mark Holden and Louise Jones to the executive planning director and the executive strategy director respectively, was timely. This did not mean the respected old guard were discarded. Tess Alps became the chairman and the founder Jonathan Durden took on the new role of president, allowing him to spend more time doing what he does best - communications planning.

PHD's new-business year was neither vintage nor disastrous. Yet again it was forced to defend so many of its accounts and Weetabix, Bradford & Bingley and Dulux all slipped through its fingers.

New accounts were smaller but nonetheless interesting: Revlon, AG Barr, Silver Spoon and Ansell Healthcare.

Testament to the strategic brains at PHD, after a Homebase/Argos centralisation, Homebase fought to keep its planning at PHD despite MindShare winning the combined buying account.

PHD has strengthened its ties with existing clients by broadening what it offers. A wise move. While its strategic credentials have always been clear, its negotiation unit lacks the same clarity. If this can be achieved PHD's future looks as promising as its past was successful.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 6

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

RISE COMMUNICATIONS

PRINCIPAL: SIMON MATHEWS

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 -

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 -

TV billings n/a

Press billings n/a

Outdoor billings n/a

Radio billings n/a

New Media billings n/a

Other n/a

Total accounts year end 33

Accounts gained 9

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 3

Company ownership Private company

Rise Communications was one of the plethora of communications planning agencies to launch in 2003. Its activity barely caused a ripple compared with the likes of Naked and Michaelides & Bednash, but in a quiet way it had a solid first year.

Quiet was never a word you'd associate with Simon Mathews, the agency's co-founder, when he was the managing director at Optimedia. An undoubted talent with a mouth and ego to match, it seemed strange that he should choose the more restrained and laid back Andrew Goulborn, the former head of communications at Saatchi & Saatchi, as his partner.

Rise's early clients included Charles Wells Brewery and Metro newspaper, working on communications strategy and business strategy respectively.

It also won business from Reckitt Benckiser, working alongside roster creative and media agencies on a new planning process. A project from Monster.com was completed in the first months of the year.

Late in the year, Rise hired a third partner, John Wigram, the head of strategy at the below-the-line agency Arc. It hopes that Wigram will enable it to focus more on direct-related work as well as introducing new types of research.

In its first year, Rise made a profit on a small declared income. During 2004 its task will be to convert greater numbers of project-only accounts into retained business.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 5

SCORE LAST YEAR: n/a

STARCOM UK

PRINCIPAL: JIM MARSHALL

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £649m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 -

TV billings 65%

Press billings 17%

Outdoor billings 6%

Radio billings 5%

New-media billings 2%

Other 5%

Total accounts year end 119

Accounts gained 18

Accounts lost 7

Total staff 276

Company ownership: Publicis subsidiary

The acquisition by Publicis of Bartle Bogle Hegarty's remaining shares in Starcom Motive to create the largest single media brand in the UK brought an end to an epic of Homeric proportions. The sighs of relief were audible as the relationship between Starcom Motive and MediaVest was finally resolved - the European chief executive, Mark Cranmer, could achieve his dream of creating a coherent Starcom UK Group.

Starcom Motive and Starcom MediaVest now operate as one brand, with a single management and proposition, only separated by the location of their offices.

It is to the credit of the new combine that there were none of the client defections that blighted ZenithOptimedia or, more profoundly, Mediaedge:cia.

Instead both contributed to what has proved a solid year. Starcom Motive won the fiercely contested Cadbury Trebor Bassett pitch, a coup tempered only by the global realignment of McDonald's, which moved to OMD. Starcom MediaVest bagged the £162 million centralised Procter & Gamble planning business.

Following the acquisition, Cranmer instigated a management restructure.

The Starcom Motive managing director, Iain Jacob, moved to Starcom MediaVest as its new chief executive and was replaced by the talented, but young, Pete Edwards. The agency bade farewell to David Connolly and Graham Hall.

While Jacob is a proven "safe pair of hands", appointing the youthful Edwards seems a smart move. Now that he has had time to settle, it is time for him to prove his worth. With the support of a group management team of the calibre and experience of the chairman, Jim Marshall, and the executive buying director, Chris Locke, he should have no trouble.

SCORE THIS YEAR: -

SCORE LAST YEAR: 5

THE ALLMOND PARTNERSHIP

PRINCIPAL: NIGEL ALLMOND

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £77m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £74m

TV billings 75%

Press billings 20%

Outdoor billings 0%

Radio billings 5%

New Media billings 0%

Other 0%

Total accounts year end 20

Accounts gained 6

Accounts lost 0

Total staff 25

Company ownership: Private company

Even the imagination of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond and his nemesis (and Nigel Allmond doppelganger) "Odd Job", would have struggled to come up with a plot to match The Allmond Partnership's extraordinary year.

The maiden performance of TAP, which launched as the BT TV buying shop with the backing of the then Manning Gottlieb Media, in Campaign's Top 300 saw it unshackle itself from Omnicom and become privately owned.

The buyout process was protracted, and not entirely amicable, but it finally gave TAP the opportunity to shake off its image as a "BT one-trick pony" and start competing against the big boys. It is to the agency's credit that it started this process as soon as the ink on the contract was dry.

The management team was strengthened with Paul Longhurst, who had been flirting with the agency as an interactive TV consultant for 18 months, who joined as the managing director while Nigel Breckon became head of press.

A new-business drive followed and TAP found itself on pitchlists such as UIP and Pathe that would have been out of its grasp just months before.

The icing on the cake came when TAP ended Weetabix's longstanding relationship with PHD to land the £15 million account.

Now that the wheels are greased, TAP must continue its momentum. While its TV buying credentials are unassailable, more work invested in other facets, particularly planning, will surely reap dividends. The question is whether they have got the resources to do this.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 7

SCORE LAST YEAR: n/a

UNIVERSAL MCCANN

PRINCIPAL: CHRIS SHAW

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £325m

NMR billings 2002 (London only) £287m

TV billings 57%

Press billings 28.9%

Outdoor billings 7.2%

Radio billings 3.2%

New-media billings n/a

Other 3.7%

Total accounts year end 101

Accounts gained 16

Accounts lost 5

Total staff 164

Company ownership: Interpublic subsidiary

There was bucket loads of intrigue down at Universal McCann in 2003. And much of it was for negative reasons.

For instance, it would be interesting to know what Universal's directors said about its sister agency Initiative after the latter wrenched the £22 million Saab business away as part of the General Motors pitch.

Or what the UK chairman, Chris Shaw, said to Ben Langdon when he heard that Langdon had removed the Europe, Middle East and Africa chief, Brian Jacobs, replacing him with Shaw in a cost-cutting move. Obviously, Shaw didn't have long to voice his opinions before Langdon, the head of Universal as part of his McCann Worldgroup role, was himself ousted.

Shaw did his best to get on with it, adding Europe to his UK role, but things didn't go great in the UK.

Universal lost £10 million of Nestle coffee business to MindShare, the £2 million Branston account while its Manchester office lost Sainsbury's Bank. However, Universal did strike back with some good wins, Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort, Autoglass and Nikon, to balance out the bad news.

Late in the year, Shaw acted to free himself up for the European role by appointing Damian Blackden and Andy Jones as joint managing directors. Chris Sutcliffe, the planning director, and Yvonne Scullion, the client services director, made way in the restructure.

The agency's work for Sky was a highlight, winning a Campaign Media Award for its activity around the launch of the Sky Flaunt channel.

This year, Universal must win more business than it loses and its management team must prove that it is strong enough to improve the agency.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 4

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

VIZEUM UK

PRINCIPAL: TRISTA GRANT

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £206m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £186m

TV billings 53%

Press billings 20%

Outdoor billings 9%

Radio billings 4%

New-media billings 4%

Other 10%

Total accounts year end 61

Accounts gained 6

Accounts lost 1

Total staff 82

Company ownership: Aegis subsidiary

For the agency formerly known as BBJ, the first half of 2003 saw things continue in pretty much the same vein as they had for the whole of 2002, with not much going on.

But then Aegis Group decided to shake things up with its belated decision to create a second-string media network. This has finally given the agency a real sense of direction and purpose.

While it once languished on the sidelines with a, perhaps unfair, reputation as a conflict shop for Carat clients, the rebranding of BBJ and creation of a coherent strategy for Aegis' non-Carat agencies has given Vizeum UK a shot in the arm.

Although new business was thin on the ground for all-comers, Vizeum finally crawled out of its rut and got its name on pitchlists with some impressive conversions, including five, worth £7 million, and Teletext, worth £6 million, both won after the Vizeum proposition was finalised in June.

On the management floor, the loss of Tim Elton, who left to set up his own strategic communications agency, was tempered by the arrival of the Michaelides & Bednash managing partner, Matt Andrews, as the head of strategy.

The managing director, Trista Grant, and the broadcast director, Chris Boothby, continue to garner respect from around the industry.

Whatever you may think of Vizeum's rather trite positioning ("smile synthesisers", etc), it has helped get the agency back on the radar and the creation of a network will help it further. But this all depends on Aegis and, depending on the actions of the departed and well-connected Bruno Kemoun and Eryck Rebbouh, the company may find itself using its resource to fight off challenges to Vizeum's bigger sister Carat.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 6

SCORE LAST YEAR: 5

WALKER MEDIA

PRINCIPALS: CHRISTINE WALKER, PHIL GEORGIADIS

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £173m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £143m

TV billings 41%

Press billings 45%

Outdoor billings 5%

Radio billings 5%

New-media billings 1%

Other 3%

Total accounts year end 53

Accounts gained 11

Accounts lost 2

Total staff 54

Company ownership: Private company

With its success in the fiercely contested KFC pitch, Walker Media showed it has still got the ability to punch above what observers might think would be its weight.

It is this clout, despite its almost unique position as a privately owned agency, that marks the agency out and shows that the lack of a network and of a communications giant parent does not mean that an agency will necessarily be hamstrung when fighting against the big boys.

The loss of the TV channel five was a disappointment but seemed a little inevitable since its former chief executive, Dawn Airey, left the station.

With an impressive leap in billings, Walker Media's new-business efforts in 2003 seem to have made up for both this and the impending departure of Freeserve, which, as part of the France Telecom review, sought a European network. Best by far was the £16 million planning and buying account for KFC, won after a five-way pitch.

No-one should underestimate the opportunity that Walker Media - as one of the few agencies in town to trade its clients' business on a line-by-line basis - has been handed following the implementation of the Contract Rights Renewal procedure. As some advertisers begin to realise that agency deals do not suit their advertising needs, it is up to Walker Media to leap in and show them the benefits that it has to offer. There are still numerous UK accounts out there for which it can do this.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 6

SCORE LAST YEAR: 6

ZENITHOPTIMEDIA

PRINCIPAL: ANTONY YOUNG

Nielsen Media Research billings 2003 £606m

Nielsen Media Research billings 2002 £697m

TV billings 49%

Press billings 27%

Outdoor billings 8%

Radio billings 5%

New-media billings 5%

Other 6%

Total accounts year end 162

Accounts gained 15

Accounts lost 4

Total staff 350

Company ownership: Publicis subsidiary

Every great leader has a rallying cry and ZenithOptimedia's chief executive, Antony Young, decided to take his troops into battle behind his "the ROI agency" banner.

But this led many to ask: if the new positioning was return on investment, what was the agency doing before?

Young, appointed in January, moved from ZenithOptimedia in Asia where he was also the chief executive. His task was to instil the new combine with purpose after months of internal focus and uncertainty.

He chose to hop on the bandwagon of results and effectiveness, initially to good effect as the agency won a chunk of Procter & Gamble's media planning account.

After this, ZenithOptimedia's year was mixed. It won the Premier Foods brands Branston and Loyd Grossman sauces, MBNA, HSS, Wyeth and Electrolux, but faced the usual merger teething problems. The managing directors, Tim Greatrex and Greg Turzynski, were the most prominent to leave. The executive director, Enyi Nwosu, joined TBWA\London and the planning director, Gerry Boyle, was appointed the sole managing director.

The resolution of Zenith's ownership, with Publicis finally buying out Cordiant's stake, was important in providing focus for the future.

But it lost several key accounts - KFC (£16 million), Going Places (£7 million) and Center Parcs (£4 million). It also lost easyJet and Tropicana to OMD but ended the year with a sizable win, the £32 million UIP account and survived a Masterfoods buying review.

Young seems to have captured the attention of some clients with the new positioning. In 2004, the agency must not lose as many key accounts while justifying the ROI hyberbole with results.

SCORE THIS YEAR: 5 SCORE LAST YEAR: n/a.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

X

You must log in to use Clip & Save

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Additional Information

Campaign Jobs