Top 300 Agencies: School Reports. (2 of 3)

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 25 February 2005 01:51PM

GLUE LONDON - 8

Glue took a brave step at the beginning of 2004, when it bought back the 32 per cent stake in the business owned by St Luke's - a purchase it financed out of cash reserves.

Cutting ties with an above-the-line agency was a tough decision, especially as glue's big weakness in past years has been the high percentage of project work it takes on.

Not for the first time, the managing director, Mark Cridge, stated his aim for 2004 as being to focus on retained business and this time glue met its objective, picking up retained work for More Th>n, Associated New Media (after a three-way pitch against Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners and the incumbent, Wieden & Kennedy), The Number 118 118 and Masterfoods Snackfoods. Roster wins on the BSkyB and Unilever accounts also helped glue's income grow from £2 million in 2003 to £2.75 million in 2004.

The agency had its best awards year ever, winning two gold Lions at Cannes for Pot Noodle noodleweb and for the Hysterical Girlfriend viral game, plus a bronze Lion for its "give up" campaign for the Royal Marines.

Strong creative work produced across the 12 months was, however, relatively thin on the ground for an agency that is so well known for its strength in that area.

Glue's new interactive film production unit, Superglue, came up with an amusing piece of film for the Pot Noodle Natural Noodling website, and there was some good new work on existing campaigns for the Royal Marines and the Royal Navy.

These aside, the quality of the agency's creative output was not quite as evident as in previous years - something it should think about if it is to justify its mantle as the online advertising scene's creative leading light.

Type of agency Digital

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel Mark Cridge managing director

Declared income £2.75m

Accounts gained 8

Accounts lost 0

Creative 90%

Media planning and buying 0%

Web design/build 10%

Biggest-spending clients T-Mobile, Virgin Trains, COI

Number of staff 46

Score last year 8

GOODSTUFF - 5

The departure of two directors from Manning Gottlieb OMD in late 2003 signalled the launch of another in a line of fashionable, one-word name, planning agencies.

Andrew Stephens and Ben Hayes finally launched Goodstuff in June 2004 after several months working on their proposition and negotiating backing from MG OMD.

Their former agency agreed to take a minority stake, generous when you consider that Stephens and Hayes had taken the £15 million Virgin Mobile planning business out of MG OMD as their launch account.

Goodstuff's proposition is "creative communication ideas", providing a potentially broad canvas on which to work. Obviously this all depends on winning clients and there are signs Goodstuff is starting to do this.

In total, it has worked with 17 paying clients since launch. The larger of these include Ann Summers, Knickerbox and Independent Radio News. But its biggest triumph since Virgin Mobile came in December when it won a brief from Levi's.

Goodstuff has also worked on projects with several creative agencies, notably DDB London, with which it attempted to work out how the ad agency could reinvent its planning process. It pitched alongside DDB to win the Weetabix creative business.

The founding pair are now in the process of recruiting and their first appointment is Toby Bowerman from ZenithOptimedia. Two more strategists are expected to join their team soon.

Goodstuff's creative highlights include an integrated sponsorship for Virgin Mobile on the Kiss 100 Breakfast Show and work for Ann Summers that involved leaving spray-painted carrots around London and Birmingham to promote the store's new platinum rabbit vibrator.

Stephens and Hayes had a solid enough start and Omnicom's backing gave their venture some added security. In 2005, they should aim to win more high-profile clients and demonstrate consistent top-level work.

Type of agency Communications planning

Company ownership Minority-owned by Manning

Gottlieb OMD

Key personnel Andrew Stephens partner

Ben Hayes partner

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 -

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 -

Total accounts year end 11

Accounts gained 10

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 3

Score last year N/A

GREY LONDON - 2

Tumultuous barely begins to describe Grey London in 2004. Garry Lace, the agency's colourful and controversial boss, departed in the wake of a hoax e-mail, whose mystery authorship continues to keep tongues wagging; Mars dumped the Grey network from its global roster, resulting in a £17.5 million drop in billings for the UK office; and Grey Global Group sold its independence in return for a $1.5 billion cheque from WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell.

Amid the dramatic headlines, Grey staff needed all their resilience to cope with a series of traumas, most of which were beyond the agency's control.

The Lace affair, which linked the chief executive with a plot to start a new company, exposed the upside and downside of employing such a publicity-conscious character. The agency undoubtedly suffered unwelcome PR as a result of Lace's vaulting ambition but also benefited from his ability to attract talent and business that previously would have gone nowhere near Great Portland Street.

Lace's legacy has been the installation of an "inner cabinet", whose collective ability and enthusiasm is unquestioned but which remains light on experience.

Dylan Williams, the executive planning director, left in October. Nicola Mendelsohn was promoted in May from new-business chief to deputy chairman and is now on maternity leave, so Carolyn Carter, the Grey Europe president, may see the appointment of a wise and mature UK group chairman to be a matter of urgency.

The year ahead will be challenging. Mars will be hard to replace and 2004 wins, which include the Australian Tourist Commission and the Ben Sherman fashion brand, only partially fill the gap.

On the upside, Grey's creative product under Dave Alberts has shown improvement, particularly on seemingly unpromising raw material such as Procter & Gamble and Remington.

The question now is whether Grey London's worst pain has passed or whether Sir Martin will need to inflict further discomfort in order to improve the network's poor operating margins significantly.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel Dave Alberts chairman,

executive creative director

Nicola Mendelsohn deputy chairman

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £194m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £177m

Total accounts year end 38

Accounts gained 3

Accounts lost 2

Number of staff 206

Score last year 5

HARRISON TROUGHTON WUNDERMAN - 8

Harrison Troughton Wunderman was a serious contender for Campaign Direct Agency of the Year for 2004, despite losing its managing partner and co-founder, Martin Troughton, who left in November to become the UK chairman of Red Cell Response.

Those close to the agency say his departure had been on the cards for several months, with Troughton clearly feeling the need for a new challenge.

That said, he left the agency in excellent shape.

In 2004, HTW submitted its best new-business performance since its formation four years ago. Things got off to a great start in January, when it beat TBWA\London to land the San Miguel advertising account, picking up the launch brief for the Russian beer Baltika in the process. It then beat three other agencies to win the Macmillan Cancer Relief account, pitched successfully with Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R for Learn Direct and was appointed one of two lead agencies for Microsoft following a massive global pitch.

The agency also won briefs from the property investment company Inside Track, the online financial services operation Interactive Investor and Dunlop Aerospace, while teasing substantial amounts of extra business out of its existing clients Star Alliance and Citibank. Meanwhile, HTW held on to all of its clients - in fact, it hasn't lost an account since the AA left in 2001.

Steve Harrison's creative department once again proved itself without equal, winning 17 accolades at the DMA Awards (six golds, seven silvers and four bronzes) as well as the Grand Prix for Star Alliance.

The agency performed typically well at Cannes earlier in the year, winning a gold Lion and two silvers.

HTW must now find a replacement for Troughton, and his successor must understand direct marketing and gel with Harrison. The network is doing the smart thing - taking its time and involving Harrison heavily in the decision. If it gets it right, nothing can stop HTW dominating the direct world for years to come.

Type of agency Direct marketing

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel Steve Harrison creative director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £2m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £2m

Total accounts year end 18

Accounts gained 9

Accounts lost 1

Number of staff 100

Score last year 7

HHCL/RED CELL - 7

It's a measure of the progress HHCL/Red Cell has made in returning to full fitness that it vows to be more discerning in the kind of business it is prepared to pitch for in 2005.

Not long ago, the agency could not have enjoyed the luxury of being picky. Laid low by a series of account losses, it was prepared to chase any prospective client with a pulse.

Now, having just celebrated its most successful new-business year since 1998 and enjoying a valued place within WPP's Red Cell network, HHCL is buoyed by a resurgent confidence.

So much so, it now questions the wisdom of last year's abortive attempts to capture the accounts of Signet, the owner of H Samuel and Ernest Jones, and the Tussauds leisure group.

The dilemma is how to improve on a one-in-four pitch conversion rate (the agency's failure to win the £14 million Muller yoghurt account was particularly frustrating) while attracting the kind of clients that will be a comfortable fit.

Clients who felt they needed the HHCL offering last year included Bhs, Innocent drinks, the Godiva luxury chocolate brand and Kiss FM as well as the company behind Burj Dubai, one of the word's most ambitious property developments.

The wins complemented a busy year for the agency, which spearheaded a massive blitz by Sky TV - £23 million spent in just ten weeks - to win over remaining refusniks.

There was also a major repositioning for Captain Birds Eye as a champion of healthy eating and the debut of Sid the Slug for the Food Standards Agency to encourage people to reduce their salt intake.

Moreover, the agency's creativity has proved exportable, having played a key role in WPP's winning of both the HSBC and Samsung global accounts.

Catharsis over? It seems so.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel Steve Henry chairman, executive

creative director

Amanda Walsh chief executive, Europe

Nick Howarth managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £90m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £73m

Total accounts year end 21

Accounts gained 7

Accounts lost 1

Number of staff 84

Score last year 6

I-LEVEL - 7

It would have been difficult to top last year's performance, when i-level snared what was easily the biggest piece of online media business of 2003, the £6 million COI Communications account.

Perhaps it is by comparison, but the digital media agency's profile in 2004 was been notable only by its absence, although there were some good things to report at the end of the year.

Billings, at £35 million, were up significantly on 2003's total of £22 million, with 16 pieces of new business won across the year, including eBay, the holiday operator Cosmos and the InterContinental Hotel group, accounting for £7 million of that total.

Both of the agency's biggest clients, COI and BT, increased their online spend by 50 per cent and half of the agency's growth across the year came from increased spend from existing clients.

I-level launched two divisions in 2004, i-level search and i-level Mobile, to offer expertise across more digital platforms. It also launched OPTima, a research tool to measure the effectiveness of online advertising, and FIRSTSite, a system that enables clients to watch customers interacting with their website or online advertising. These kinds of value-added services look likely to become more important. The networks are starting to build their own online media buying expertise, with the launch of divisions such as Aegis' Isobar, and full-service digital agencies are also competing for media-only accounts.

I-level, with a 14 per cent market share, has carved itself a strong niche position over the past five years, but the challenge now will be to continue to grow the business in an increasing competitive market.

Type of agency Digital media

Company ownership Independent

Key personnel Charlie Dobres founder

Andrew Walmsley founder

Declared income n/s

Accounts gained 16

Accounts lost 0

Creative 0%

Media planning and buying 90%

Web design/build 0%

Consultancy 10%

Biggest-spending clients BT, COI, William Hill

Number of staff 65

Score last year 8

INITIATIVE - 2

Initiative sailed into 2004 in fine shape. It sailed out of it resembling the Titanic after it hit the ice.

Inevitably, the loss of the giant Unilever business, which billed close to £200 million, overshadowed everything else that Initiative did in 2004.

Purveyors of gallows humour at the agency suggested it could at least take solace in being liberated from the restrictions of being "Unilever's buying agency" - poor consolation, though, after losing your largest account following one of the messiest pitches of recent years. However well the UK agency performed in the pan-European pitch (and there are indications it did very well), it failed to stop Unilever's move to MindShare.

Initiative avoided a total bloodbath by holding on to its General Motors business after a pan-European pitch late in the year. As with Unilever, it was poor fortune for the agency to be asked to defend the account so soon after retaining the account on a local level (it won a UK-only GM pitch in 2003).

With the focus on defending Unilever and GM and bedding in 2003 account wins such as Orange and ICI, the agency's new-business record was thin.

It brought in Four Seasons Hotels, Vauxhall Dealerships and Ecco Shoes. However, it relinquished the £12 million Ferrero Rocher business after a contract disagreement.

Redundancies were few following Unilever's departure because most of the Unilever team of 38 were offered jobs at MindShare or elsewhere within Initiative. Earlier in the year, Initiative lost Lucy Banks, its creative director, who left to join ZenithOptimedia.

The severe blow of losing Unilever does, however, unshackle the agency and there is real potential to create a more nimble and dynamic agency with a fresher culture.

But the capable chief executive, Jerry Hill, now has much to prove and will be busy reassuring staff that the company's mantra, "expect more", does not allude to new-business losses. Interpublic's moves to bring Initiative closer to its sister agency, Universal McCann, could help or hinder his efforts. Its parent company, IPG, must also get its media house in order if Initiative is to enjoy the same sort of group support as, say, MindShare does from WPP. Crucially, in 2005 Initiative must win pitches to fill the giant gaps left by its Unilever account. No mean feat.

Type of agency Media

Company ownership Interpublic subsidiary

Key personnel Jerry Hill group chief executive

Gary Birtles managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £514m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £415m

TV billings 53%

Press billings 23%

Outdoor billings 12%

Radio billings 5%

New-media billings 2%

Below-the-line billings 0%

Other 5%

Total accounts year end 52

Accounts gained 6

Accounts lost 3

Number of staff 156

Score last year 6

JOSHUA - 5

Joshua has never had a school report before because it has always been regarded as part of Grey: its below-the-line arm, to be precise.

However, in 2004 it demonstrated sufficient independence to warrant its own entry.

The agency has carved a niche for itself in the tricky area of integrated communications with a robust client list, which boasts Diet Coke, Air Miles and Birds Eye below the line, and a growing number of advertising clients.

That it is managing to get on an increasing number of advertising pitchlists, including Harveys, Heart FM, Peugeot Dealerships and Bourne Leisure, says a lot about its new-business operation. It managed to convert Cobra Beer, BBC Worldwide and the Australian Tourist Commission, showing it can hold its own against ad agencies. And it also boosted its direct portfolio with wins from AOL and Red Letter Days.

The agency also bolstered its creative department, headed by Mitch Levy.

It hired Steve Broadhurst as a creative director, as well as Brian Storey and Xanthos Christadoulou. However, the agency's lack of awards at the major ceremonies such as the DMA Awards or Campaign Direct Awards needs addressing.

The agency went into 2005 having learned that it had just strengthened its relationship with Masterfoods, becoming the lead agency on the £20 million Petcare roster, knocking its rival Proximity off and beating a number of outside contenders.

With its strong new-business team and credible creative department, the agency should be looking to consolidate its position as a standalone agency.

To do this, though, it needs to raise its creative profile.

Following its takeover by WPP, it remains to be seen whether or not its progress will be hampered by uncertainty about its future status.

Type of agency Direct marketing

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel Peter Thompson chief executive

Nick Spindler managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £4m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 n/s

Total accounts year end 31

Accounts gained 16

Accounts lost 4

Number of staff 205

Score last year N/A

JWT - 7

In 2004, one of JWT's real Achilles heels, its creative product, finally became worthy of attention.

Servicing blue-chip clients with first-rate planning has always been JWT's strength. But this was the year the agency built on the creative revival that began in 2003 with the arrival of its creative director, Nick Bell, from Leo Burnett.

Its work for Diageo's flagship vodka brand, Smirnoff, has arguably been its strongest for some time. Nothing like the threat of losing a big account to focus the mind, it seems. The agency had come under intense pressure to deliver on the account following the departure of its deputy chairman, Harry MacAuslan, to Leo Burnett.

Diageo, a client that worked closely with MacAuslan during his 24-year spell at the agency, voiced its concerns over his treatment. Then, in a further blow, it put JWT's global Smirnoff Ice business up for review before awarding it to Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

Fortunately, there were plenty of accounts moving in the opposite direction throughout the year, the most significant of which was the highly prized HSBC business. JWT succeeded Lowe as the lead network in May after WPP saw off challenges from Publicis Groupe, Interpublic and Omnicom.

In addition, it scooped the £4 million pan-European Knorr account, Allied Bakeries, Tourism Ireland and Samsung, which did not prove to be quite the trophy it was initially billed as.

The appointment in March of Craig Davis as JWT's European creative head further bolstered its firepower. In January this year, JWT continued to overhaul its image, rebranding its corporate identity and promoting Davis to worldwide chief creative officer. It must continue to raise its game and pin down a firm creative vision for its clients if it is to stand out from the crowd.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel Bob Jeffrey worldwide chief

executive

Simon Bolton UK chief executive

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £328m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £286m

Total accounts year end 45

Accounts gained 7

Accounts lost 2

Number of staff 325

Score last year 4

KARMARAMA - 6

In the four years since its formation, Karmarama has gone from strength to strength and last year was no exception. The agency, which bills itself as a communications design agency, has found its forte in delivering communications options that seamlessly span all disciplines.

In 2004, while many of its rivals were still theorising about uniting creative and media, it further improved its offering by launching a joint initiative with MediaCom's independent planning consultancy, Real World Communications Plus.

The operation is intended to offer integrated, fresh-thinking solutions, while enhancing the agency's relationship with clients such as Ikea and Opodo, who turned away some of the industry's stalwarts, including HHCL/Red Cell and Lowe.

Amnesty International also came calling, while the drinks giant Diageo awarded the agency the brief to launch 23, its new premium mixers range, in the UK without a pitch.

Creatively, the reel continues to grow in depth. Ikea remains the most high-profile campaign in a line-up that still includes a small regional element.

But the agency is intent on expanding in order to compete against the big guns, as shown through the successful signing of a Lowe creative team, Matt Janes and Vic Polkinghorne, who finally came on board at the start of the year. In January, it also finalised the acquisition of Outfit Communications to strengthen its account planning and management.

The pieces are in place for Karmarama to enjoy a strong 2005. The test will be whether it can keep the momentum going and capture the attention of big clients.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel Naresh Ramchandani creative partner

Dave Buonaguidi creative partner

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £10m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £6m

Total accounts year end 10

Accounts gained 6

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 25

Score last year 6

LEAGAS DELANEY - 4

Leagas Delaney's year kicked off with a balance-sheet restructuring that saw a change in the company's trading name. It was the start of a year of flux for the agency: first came the bombshell that its biggest-billing UK client, Hyundai, was defecting.

After a decade of loyalty, the Korean car manufacturer finally decided to relocate its £12 million advertising account into Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest.

And things continued to get worse before they got any better. A couple of key account departures followed in the first half of the year; Harrods announced a review of its £2 million business, while the agency was also hit by the loss of its pan-European Opodo client.

There were glimmers of hope for the beleaguered shop, however, as its new-business machine fired into action, winning Twinings and the United Nations. In September, it picked up a launch project for Saab, and it won Tripp, the UK's leading luggage retailer.

In all, the agency pitched for ten pieces of business and it was successful on all of them - a conversion rate unmatched by any of its rivals. Reebok, Bacardi Eristoff (Bacardi's vodka brand) and Emirates were among those brands to add their names to the client list.

However, the agency's management line-up, which had destabilised in 2002, continued to weaken. After 11 years, the creative director, Dave Beverley, left to join Leo Burnett. He had been a central figure behind the agency's Hyundai, Porsche and Nationwide accounts.

Overall, 2004 was a year of ups and downs for Leagas Delaney. The new-business machine got itself back on track, but raising the agency's profile is now paramount.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel Tim Delaney chairman

Margaret Johnson group managing

director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £19m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £24m

Total accounts year end 16

Accounts gained 10

Accounts lost 3

Number of staff 60

Score last year N/A

LEAN MEAN FIGHTING MACHINE - 6

The creative hotshop set up by the ex-Tribal DDB foursome Sam Ball, Dave Bedwood, Tom Bazeley and Dave Cox only launched in February 2003, but has picked up some high-profile clients since.

Launched as Lean Mean Fighting Machine (alternative names for the start-up included Ciaran, presumably in honour of Ciaran Deering, the Tribal DDB managing director), the agency makes it into the School Reports on the basis of its creative work.

LMFM has the stated aim of creating the best online ads in the world.

While it has yet to achieve that ambition, it did produce some of the best online creative work of 2004 - the standouts being the brand-building "it's time to fly United" campaign for United Airlines and some business-to-business work for AOL, which it won following a competitive pitch against the incumbent, cdp-travissully.

In terms of new business, Procter & Gamble, United Airlines and Campaign's publisher, Haymarket, joined its launch clients, the International Herald Tribune and Channel 4.

The agency now has to focus on building its credibility with large clients and, while the founders insist they are determined to stay independent, some sort of link with an above-the-line agency would be of obvious benefit.

Growth has got to be the agency's aim for 2005. LMFM will start a recruitment push this year and also plans to move offices away from its current base in Primrose Hill Business Park.

Having made a good start in proving its creative credentials last year, the key challenge for this will be whether such a small outfit can continue its success and start retaining some accounts.

Type of agency Digital advertising

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel Tom Bazeley founder

Declared income £225,000

Accounts gained 9

Accounts lost 0

Creative 100%

Media planning and buying 0%

Web design/build 0%

Biggest-spending clients AOL, United Airlines,

International Herald Tribune

Number of staff 4

Score last year N/A

LEITH - 4

Leith brought down the curtain on 2004 by sealing a long-anticipated acquisition deal that could provide the catalyst for expansion the Scottish agency so craves. A year after it was rumoured to have gone into merger talks with JWT, Leith looks finally to have safeguarded its future by becoming one of three companies to join Cello, the new marketing communications group .

The agency hopes to keep an independent culture.

Leith desperately needs this injection of support if it is to generate greater belief in its brand, following a year that heralded few other prospects for expansion.

Aside from the Hotpoint win in February, which moved the agency on from its characteristic FMCG-based work, new business was downbeat compared with 2003, a year when it captured 14 new accounts. Jordans, Emirates and the Organic Milk Supplier Co-operative all proved elusive.

Neither was it a vintage year on a creative footing for London's sole Scottish representative . While its Carling work, with which the agency has become synonymous, was once again solid, there was nothing that threatened to furnish the trophy cabinet.

The agency's other long-running brand campaign for the pizza brand Goodfellas was also respectable, but failed to break new ground.

While Leith needs to concentrate on raising the creative bar, the priority for 2005 will be satisfying its holding company while exploiting to the full the new opportunities this relationship could allow.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Cello subsidiary

Key personnel John Denholm chairman

John Rowley chief executive

Phil Adams managing director

(Edinburgh)

Jeremy Pyne managing director

(London)

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £44m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £37m

Total accounts year end 32

Accounts gained 8

Accounts lost 1

Number of staff 84

Score last year 6

LEO BURNETT - 5

Following Leo Burnett's year of consolidation in 2003, 2004 was, in theory, going to be all about growth. However, with an unsettled senior management team and a poor new-business performance, consolidation remained the agency's watchword for 2004.

The year began with the unpopular move to West Kensington. Although Leo Burnett's chief executive, Bruce Haines, was forced to dress it up as a bid to unite the disparate teams from the merged Burnett and D'Arcy, the move has isolated the agency from the rest of the advertising industry.

In May, Paul Shearer, who Haines had hired a year previously as a joint creative director, was shipped out, leaving his partner, Jim Thornton, in sole creative charge. A second senior departure occurred in August, when the chairman and the managing director, Barry Cook, resigned without a job to go to.

However, there were some welcome additions to the team. Richard Pinder joined as its president, EMEA, based in London. And Haines acted fast to secure Harry MacAuslan in a senior capacity, an appointment designed to bolster Burnett's grip on its Diageo business, an account MacAuslan was heavily involved with during his 25 years at JWT. Camilla Harrisson, Wieden & Kennedy's former managing director, was also appointed in the revived role of marketing director to spearhead new business.

On the new-business front, though, Leo Burnett had a flaccid year, with the global Samsung pitch a major distraction. In London, the agency converted very few of its pitches, and lost the £8 million Tetley account.

Scottish Widows was its only respectable win and Leo Burnett is on the brink of falling out of the top ten, its billings slipping by 2 per cent last year.

Creatively, the agency has produced solid work across the board ,with strong new campaigns for Heinz and COI Communications. It has also continued to fire out commercial after commercial for McDonald's in the face of a government that is content to blame fast-food companies for the UK's obesity problem.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Publicis subsidiary

Key personnel Bruce Haines group chief executive

Jim Thornton creative director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £205m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £208m

Total accounts year end 22

Accounts gained 3

Accounts lost 1

Number of staff 260

Score last year 5

LOWE - 2

Lowe's best hope for 2005 must be that its worst days are over and that it can build on award-winning creative work to reclaim its place as a force in UK advertising.

Last year was annus horribilis in Knightsbridge. Barely a month seemed to pass without the exit of a key account, either because a relationship turned sour or through global issues beyond the agency's control.

Into the former camp goes Unilever Bestfoods' £25 million global Flora account and Diet Coke (£8.7 million), both of which departed as a result of

mutual unhappiness.

Into the latter goes the global Braun assignment, creatively undemanding and highly profitable but always vulnerable to an agency centralisation by its Gillette parent.

Even that loss, though, is dwarfed by HSBC, which aligned its entire £350 million business into WPP, not because of any dissatisfaction with the London agency's creativity, but because network chiefs failed to spot the warning signs.

The account haemorrhage not only led to 80 redundancies but exposed the cultural misfit of the 1999 marriage between the creatively led Lowe and the solid-but-dull Ammirati Puris Lintas. Today, all the extra critical mass has disappeared. The agency is almost exactly the same size as it was five years ago, pre-merger.

For Lowe's revamped management frontline, which includes a newly appointed creative director, Ed Morris, there is much to do. Not least in getting more of Lowe's creative output to match the quality of its signature Stella Artois work. Nevertheless, given the turmoil of 2004, the standard of creative work was more than impressive. Strong work for Nestle, Tesco and Stella abounded.

The agency is improving but fragile morale needs the boost that comes with Lowe's inclusion on more quality pitchlists. It made the final cut on the Weetabix and Homebase pitches, but failed to convert either. Now, with Matthew Bull having vacated the chief executive's chair for a global creative role, Lowe has drafted in Garry Lace to end the new-business famine.

Lace has a mighty job to do in getting his battle-weary troops winning again.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Interpublic subsidiary

Key personnel Paul Weinberger chairman

Garry Lace chief executive

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £198m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £219m

Total accounts year end 34

Accounts gained 4

Accounts lost 4

Number of staff 230

Score last year 2

M&C SAATCHI - 6

Last year's stock market flotation means that M&C Saatchi's quest for new business will have to be pursued with even more than its usual vigour during 2005.

The need to satisfy shareholders will inevitably put more pressure on an agency whose predatory instincts have always been those of a fox in a chicken run but which, by its own admission, were less than impressive over the past 12 months.

Going into the year needing to replace the exiting Matalan and MG Rover, the agency scored some important goals. The £8 million Halfords account arrived after the high-street car and bike specialist split with Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, while Harrods appointed it as part of plans to present itself as more than just the preserve of well-heeled foreign tourists.

There were also more briefs from existing clients, notably the Royal Bank of Scotland, which assigned the agency its £25 million Privilege Insurance account, and COI Communications, through which it won the Home Office's crime reduction programme and the Inland Revenue Child Trust Fund promotion. They all added up to a 5 per cent billings hike, making M&C Saatchi the UK's fifth-biggest billing shop.

However, a couple of major prizes slipped through its grasp. It failed to land the £14 million Muller yoghurt and desserts business or to capitalise on its RBS connection to take the £40 million Direct Line account.

The veteran Jeremy Sinclair, having stepped in to run the creative department after Matt Eastwood's departure for the US, will be aware of a need for greater consistency. While the work for police recruitment has reaped plaudits, the Scottish Courage campaigns continue to disappoint.

This year, the agency will be using its flotation money to fuel its European expansion, with a car account at the top of its wanted list. Expect also to see the group moving into the brand, identity, design and fashion areas.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership AIM listed

Key personnel Moray MacLennan chairman

Tim Duffy chief executive

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £246m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £233m

Total accounts year end 35

Accounts gained 8

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 283

Score last year 5

MCCANN ERICKSON - 4

Expectations of what the McCann Erickson London chairman and chief executive, Rupert Howell, would achieve in 2004 were high, as he entered his first full year in the job of turning the beleaguered outfit round.

His aim is to make the London agency the EMEA hub for global accounts, but to do this he first has to re-establish its status as a strong domestic agency. But with clients running out of the door at an alarming rate and its creative reputation in tatters, it was an unenviable task.

The first significant change of the year was the arrival of Robert Campbell as the executive creative director. Respected and liked in equal measure, Campbell lured two acclaimed veterans of the industry in Frank Lieberman and Mark Reddy as his respective executive head of TV and executive head of art.

Resources have been ploughed back into creative services, which suffered under the previous management. Meanwhile, Damian O'Malley, who joined as the executive head of planning, is rebuilding a dysfunctional planning department.

However, so far there has only been a small improvement in the creative work. New ads for Cornetto and Wall's sausages have benefited from humour and their respective famous advertising ideas - "Just One Cornetto" and the Wall's dog - returned. Though its debut for Ernest Jones was a disappointment.

The appointments of Stephen Whyte as the chief executive and Christian Hinchcliffe as the marketing director completed the eight-strong board to tackle new business and client services. The former replaced Chris Hunton, who quit without a job to go to.

Howell's methods have not proved popular with everyone, and this was illustrated when Bacardi - an £11 million global client - split with the London agency. Other losses included Norwich Union and Glenfidddich.

To Howell's credit, the agency has started winning business, including Signet, the Carbon Trust and the Co-op's membership services. And the year ended with the news that the agency will start working on the Co-op Movement's £17.5 million account in January.

Howell has thrown money at McCann, hiring what must be the most expensive management team in town. 2005 will show whether this was money well spent.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Interpublic subsidiary

Key personnel Rupert Howell president (EMEA)

Stephen Whyte chief executive

Robert Campbell executive creative

director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £305m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £303m

Total accounts year end 301

Accounts gained 57

Accounts lost 15

Number of staff 772

Score last year 2

MEDIA PLANNING GROUP - 5

Over the past couple of years, Media Planning Group's UK agency has been forced to lower its horizons.

In 2003, it lost the Orange planning and buying account and as a result fell down the agency billings league. Realising that it could no longer depend on its patchy international network for business or compete consistently against the big UK agencies for large domestic accounts, MPG has since focused on chasing smaller UK-only business.

Seen in this light, 2004 was a quiet success for MPG. It won accounts from the Conservative Party, Polaroid, Pioneer, a project from Mothercare and Bhs. Its only network-derived win was Air France.

After a bad 2003 for losing existing clients, MPG plugged the leaky bucket last year, not losing any accounts and extending its relationship with TUI by winning the Thomson Fly account.

There were some changes on the personnel side but the core UK team of the chief executive, Marc Mendoza, and the joint managing directors, Marie Oldham and Dominic Stead, were a constant. It was the end of an era, however, when the veteran Bob Offen stepped down from his role as the director of strategy and the head of client services, Andrew Canter, also left a leaner-looking MPG.

MPG lost its senior planner, Rupert Millington, to Vizeum, but hired Naked's head of new-business development, Craig Wills, as its strategic planning director. It produced strong work for Camelot's repositioning and the relaunched Independent.

While MPG moved into a new office in 2004 (Euro RSCG's old Leicester Square location) courtesy of its holding company Havas, its future may depend on more fundamental action from Havas as it looks at various merger and acquisition possibilities to strengthen the MPG network. Failing this, MPG must hold on to its key accounts and continue its steady new-business performance.

Type of agency Media

Company ownership Havas subsidiary

Key personnel Marc Mendoza chief executive

Dominic Stead joint managing

director

Marie Oldham joint managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £83m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £137m

TV billings 39.4%

Press billings 33%

Outdoor billings 6.5%

Radio billings 5.3%

New-media billings 11.2%

Below-the-line billings 0%

Other 4.6%

Total accounts year end 65

Accounts gained 15

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 90

Score last year 3

MEDIACOM - 9

MediaCom was its usual relentless self in 2004, landing new business, keeping hold of its biggest clients and generally picking up where it left off the year before.

Its first task was to bed down the large amount of business it won towards the end of 2003. It successfully integrated business, including Boots, while hitting the new-business trail.

The agency finished second in Campaign's new-business table in 2004, with wins totalling £100 million . New clients included T-Mobile, Sky, EFD, Wella, Prudential Insurance, Rustlers and the Australian Tourist Commission. Doubts over the future of its Volkswagen account have been resolved with a network consolidation into MediaCom.

A minor downside was the loss of £3.7 million in billings from Oracle and eBay.

MediaCom's stable senior management team remained in place, still headed by the chief executive, Stephen Allan. Allan was at pains to play down the impact that WPP's takeover of MediaCom's parent, Grey, will have on the agency's culture and management team - arguing that the agency will be backed by WPP's clout but that little else will change.

Managing growth is an issue for MediaCom. It added close to 100 staff last year, but it seems to have done this successfully. Then in December, it launched a specialist ethnic division called CultureCom.

Last year, Campaign said MediaCom could introduce more "creative sparkle" to its act. There were small signs of this in 2004 with its work for the Metropolitan Police and Volkswagen and the introduction of its affinity ad breaks initiative (bundling related advertisers into one TV ad break) but a small criticism might be that it could generate more of these ideas.

MediaCom sets itself high standards and in 2005 its targets should be developing jaw-dropping pieces of work to go alongside the new-business success.

Type of agency Media

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel Stephen Allan group chief executive

Nick Lawson joint managing director

Jane Ratcliffe joint managing

director

David Kyffin joint managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £715m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £611m

TV billings 24%

Press billings 17%

Outdoor billings 8%

Radio billings 2%

New-media billings 5%

Below-the-line billings 0%

Other 44%

Total accounts year end 223

Accounts gained 23

Accounts lost 3

Number of staff 465

Score last year 7

MEDIAEDGE:CIA - 5

As Rob Norman skips up the steps of the aeroplane en route to his new life in New York, he can look back on his time in charge of the agency with some satisfaction.

After all, two years ago the prospect of running the newly created Mediaedge:cia was considered the biggest hospital pass in town. But now, while MEC is far from firing on all cylinders, 2005 showed that the agency Norman passes on to Tom George is very different from the one he inherited.

The appointment of George was a masterstroke, particularly after the shameful Matt James farrago. The respected George had been overlooked at ZenithOptimedia and was looking for an agency management post of his own, while Norman was clearly getting itchy feet having done some major re-engineering of the battered MEC UK brand.

You may not have noticed it, but Norman has quietly developed a clever positioning for MEC, although this may be driven by a simple recognition that it can't compete with the MindShares or OMDs of this world. MEC now aims to be at the forefront of creating integrated media strategies away from simple media buying, evident by its decision to merge its digital and DM divisions.

MEC's new-business record was average. It won the £10 million Ferrero Rocher account from Initiative, although the joy of this victory was tempered somewhat by the loss of Reebok, its share of Allied British Foods and Haven Holidays. It must have also been deeply frustrating that Heinz perceived MEC's northern European agencies as too weak and split the account with Vizeum.

Nonetheless, much has been achieved. The fact that MEC is getting on to pitches - and converting them - shows how far the agency has come.

With Norman now Stateside, George needs to prove he is up to the job he has wanted for so long of running his own agency. Norman has cooked up quite a compelling recipe and George should have few problems taking MEC a stage further this year.

Type of agency Media

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel Tom George managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £171m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £199m

TV billings 21%

Press billings 21%

Outdoor billings 6%

Radio billings 2%

New-media billings 41.2%

Below-the-line billings 7.2%

Other 1.6%

Total accounts year end 165

Accounts gained 30

Accounts lost 3

Number of staff 208

Score last year 3

MEDIAVEST MANCHESTER - 6

After a blistering 2003, MediaVest Manchester had a solid year during which it restructured, improved its client offering and consolidated its existing business.

Perhaps the high point of the year came when the agency retained the Chupa-Chups and Smint accounts against some exalted opposition, despite the fact that the client had aligned into Carat throughout Europe. The agency then retained £24 million-worth of its £28 million Alliance & Leicester account, only losing out on the press buying. It won assignments from the conservatory manufacturer Planet, Computeach and the Trafford Centre.

However, it did relinquish its place on the roster of the mail-order company Red Caps.

A restructure saw it realign its media buying and strategy execution divisions, which will now operate by medium rather than client, in keeping with the trend set by a handful of London agencies.

The agency also grew its interactive brand MVi and began offering existing clients the use of a state-of-the-art online accountability tool, Netsight.

MediaVest Manchester continues to benefit from a stable and hierarchy-free management team, with the managing partners, Andy Jeal and David Lucas, operating alongside a large group of long-serving board directors.

Jeal seems to have emerged unscathed from a commission scandal in 2003.

So after an excellent 2003 and a solid 2004, the agency starts the new year in good shape. It has declared billings of close to £200 million and is bigger than some of its more famous, London-based rivals, such as Media Planning Group.

It's also one of the only media outfits that can offer clients access to a huge global network, yet simultaneously boast that it is still owner-operated, with 80 per cent of its shares held by staff in the Manchester office. On this foundation, it could well spring a few surprises in 2005.

Type of agency Media

Company ownership Minority-owned by Publicis

Key personnel David Lucas managing partner

Andy Jeal managing partner

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £108m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £105m

TV billings 23%

Press billings 56%

Outdoor billings 3%

Radio billings 4%

New-media billings 10%

Below-the-line billings 3%

Other 1%

Total accounts year end 160

Accounts gained 4

Accounts lost 2

Number of staff 158

Score last year N/A

MICHAELIDES & BEDNASH - 6

George Michaelides and Graham Bednash will be delighted to see the barriers have been torn down in this year's Top 300, enabling their agency to be included alongside its creative peers. Never comfortable with the media agency tag, Michaelides & Bednash continues to occupy its interesting niche founded on the concept of "brand activation".

That said, the sort of brands that M&B has been enlisted to activate recently are surely different from the ones the agency envisaged working with when it launched a decade ago. Indeed, the appeal of its niche has become increasingly mainstream.

M&B produced acclaimed work on existing clients in 2004 and continued to consolidate its place on the Unilever roster. The agency landed an additional £15 million pan-European assignment for Knorr with a brief to find new ways for the brand to connect with audiences. M&B continued to expand in the FMCG arena with a further £3 million brief from GlaxoSmithKline for the launch of Aquafresh Zones.

Although both of these wins indicate there is a huge potential market among FMCG giants for brand activation specialists, M&B continued to pitch, albeit less successfully, for more traditional domestic media briefs such as O2 and a communications planning task from TK Maxx.

Brand activation may sound like a conveniently indistinct and unaccountable mast for M&B to pin its colours to, but the agency continued to produce effective work, particularly for its flagship Channel 4 client with the launch of Four magazine and a striking campaign promoting the arrival of The Simpsons to the channel from BBC2.

M&B can look back on 2004 with some pride as its appeal has become more widespread without compromising its heritage. As to the future, the agency will need to strike a balance among its expanding portfolio of clients to pre-empt any criticism that it is just becoming an FMCG sales promotion adjunct.

Type of agency Communications planning

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel Graham Bednash managing partner

George Michaelides managing partner

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 n/a

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 n/a

Total accounts year end 21

Accounts gained 3

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 18

Score last year 6

MILES CALCRAFT BRIGINSHAW DUFFY - 7

Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy completed its fifth year of trading in rude health.

A strong new-business performance throughout 2004 demonstrated that the agency still has the energy and enthusiasm of a start-up.

Its Metropolitan Police and Greene King wins hit the headlines last January.

One month later, the agency had picked up Thomson Local. In May it snatched the £8 million Tetley account before pitching unsuccessfully for the Burger King business.

But MCBD's greatest triumph came at the end of the year, when it won Debenhams' £16.5 million account. It was an achievement on two levels.

First, it is the kind of mainstream account the agency needed in order to consolidate its standing in the London market. Second, MCBD competed against the toughest competition, beating Clemmow Hornby Inge, Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners and WCRS.

Creatively, however, the agency hit both highs and lows. Its Alan Whicker work for Travelocity was one of the year's better campaigns, while its strong Metropolitan Police campaign against drug abuse filled many column inches. But then there was MCBD's Tetley debut, one of the year's howlers, while work for Thomson Local and Bells lacked depth.

Meanwhile, the agency set up HOW with the creative veterans Ken Hoggins and Chris O'Shea. The benefits may be shortlived, however. Although it enabled MCBD to win the Waitrose account in the short term, the retailer's relationship with CHI poses a threat.

The Amplified joint venture with Martin Bowley, the former Carlton Sales chief executive, has better long-term potential, however. It will give the agency and its clients insight to the growing areas of digital and content provision.

MCBD has worked hard to achieve consistent growth for the past five years and there should be more of the same this year. The only area of concern is the creative department, which would benefit from young hiring, and higher standards.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel Jeremy Miles chairman

Helen Calcraft managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £54m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £41m

Total accounts year end 24

Accounts gained 6

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 55

Score last year 6

MINDSHARE - 9

MindShare, under the control of Kelly Clark, was elected Campaign's Media Agency of the Year for the second year running in 2004. It is obvious to see why, given the agency's astonishing new-business prowess and its ability to produce ground-breaking and award-winning media strategies.

Victory in the £206 million Unilever pitch secured MindShare's position as the UK's biggest media agency by some way and followed wins for HSBC, the Irish Tourist Board, the entire Nestle business and the Homebase media planning task. It is to the credit of MindShare's entire team that not one client left the agency in 2005, given the amount of work involved in pitching for these new accounts.

But size isn't everything - it's what you do with it that counts. So, as well as being the biggest, MindShare has constantly striven to be the best.

Its House of Media proposition, upon which much work was produced in 2003, continued to develop and grow, evident in MindShare's success in putting together content deals for clients such as Nike, Ford and Nestle.

The Nike campaign was a worthy winner of the Campaign of the Year at the Campaign Media Awards. MindShare is already ahead of the game with branded content in the US and, unless its rivals act quickly, it could soon be doing the same here.

Much of this success must come down to the senior managers the capable Clark has assembled around him, including Nick Theakstone, who took on the new role of managing director of GroupM Trading, the biggest negotiation point in the UK.

With so much new business - and a client of the size and shape of Unilever arriving through the doors - it is essential that existing clients are not neglected to make way for the demanding, housewife-buying behemoth.

They should be OK, judging on past performance, and wouldn't three consecutive Media Agency of the Year gongs be something to aim for?

Type of agency Media

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel Kelly Clark chief executive

Jed Glanvill managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £577m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £557m

TV billings 53%

Press billings 22%

Outdoor billings 9%

Radio billings 5%

New-media billings 4%

Below-the-line billings 2%

Other 5%

Total accounts year end 40

Accounts gained 7

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 335

Score last year 6

MOTHER - 6

Improving on 2003's undisputed conquest of the year - the £90 million Boots account - would always be a near-impossible task for Mother. No new-business win came remotely close to rivalling it in 2004. Indeed, the agency's new-business activity was markedly subdued. Mother was noticeably absent from all the year's big-billing pitchlists and its strike rate for those it did take part in was unimpressive.

The RAF, Mr Kipling and Emaar Properties all slipped through the net and Magic FM defected to St Luke's.

The clients effectively shepherded into the Mother fold were hardly established brand names. The little-known Hong Kong luxury department store Lane Crawford, SAB Miller, which has yet to break the market in the UK, and Tiger Telematics' Gizmondo did not make the agency the envy of its rivals.

Understandably, the bulk of the agency's attention turned to juggling the demands of Boots and Orange, with varying degrees of success. Its cinema work for Orange was one of the year's highlights, while its Harry Hill campaign for Boots fell flat.

On the positive side, Coca-Cola, one of the world's most influential brands, reaffirmed its faith in Mother, choosing the agency as the only independent to compete in its inter-roster review.

Furthermore, the return of the highly acclaimed Argentinian creative Carlos Bayala, with a view to launching a South American office, promises to bolster the Mother family unit.

In 2005, Mother must demonstrate that it can still produce cutting-edge creative work and win pitches while handling demanding establishment brands such as Boots, Orange, Coca-Cola and Unilever.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel Stef Calcraft partner

Robert Saville partner

Andy Medd partner

Mark Waites partner

Matthew Clark partner

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £108m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £99m

Total accounts year end 25

Accounts gained 7

Accounts lost 2

Number of staff 105

Score last year 8

MUSTOES - 4

After an unexceptional 2003, Mustoes went some way towards picking itself up in 2004, reappearing on the new-business scene and launching multimillion-pound campaigns.

However, the agency still has a long way to go before it can be regarded as a major player. Despite appearing on some credible pitchlists, the only notable win of seven in 2004 was a Unilever project for Cif, for which it pitched against Lowe.

Smaller victories included the regional brewer Everards, the books chain Ottakar's and the task to launch H Bauer's weekly men's magazine, Cut.

Losing the £1.5 million LG Electronics account as a result of the company's decision to realign its advertising globally made the net haul unspectacular.

But new business is an area the agency is keen to address and it created the role of marketing director towards the end of the year. Allan Dutton was hired from Quiet Storm and tasked with spearheading Mustoes' new-business drive. There will be considerable pressure on Dutton - not least from Mustoes' Japanese part-owner, Hakuhodo - to boost the somewhat lacklustre image of the agency, put its name on more high-profile pitchlists and start winning more substantial pieces of business.

The agency has been busy creatively with the launch of its £15 million animated Kia campaign and new work for Lloyds Pharmacy, Start-rite and Butlins. Mustoes needs to act fast to capitalise on the profile such campaigns could lend it. In the mean time, however, it is languishing in no-man's land.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Minority-owned by Hakuhodo

Key personnel Nick Mustoe chief executive

Mick Mahoney joint creative director

Andy Amadeo joint creative director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £34m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £29m

Total accounts year end 25

Accounts gained 7

Accounts lost 1

Number of staff 57

Score last year N/A

NAKED COMMUNICATIONS - 7

The media equivalent of Tony Blair on one of his overseas jaunts, Naked reckons it can teach Johnny Foreigner a trick or two.

In 2004, it exported its own brand of communications expertise to Australia - where it launched a majority-owned subsidiary - and continued to build its businesses in Amsterdam and the Nordic region.

Naked's vision, expressed in an ambitious statement, is: "To become the acknowledged leader in creating communication solutions globally." Its critics may argue that this is vain and ridiculous, but Naked's progress in Australia (where it has already landed a sizeable Coca-Cola planning task) suggests otherwise. Whether the Naked founders have the hard-nosed business nous to grow these overseas operations into thriving companies over the long term is another matter.

The agency has also been pursuing its expansionist vision back on home turf. "Joint venture" seems to be its mantra and its Naked Inside co-operation with Clemmow Hornby Inge had some notable new-business success (mainly with CHI clients such as the Telegraph Group and Carphone Warehouse). Ventures with Fallon and WCRS, called Happen at Fallon and Element respectively, were launched this year, signs that Naked can see the benefits of working closely with advertising agencies.

But its Naked Ambition spin-off collapsed after Grey backed out of taking a minority stake and Matt James, the founder of the venture, left after the debacle.

Nevertheless, Naked claimed a 35 per cent increase in income (with 78 per cent of this retained). UK wins were less sizeable than in 2003 but included the planning task for DirectGov, through COI Communications, and TK Maxx.

Naked continued to win awards over the year. Its Lapdance Island activity for E4 was successful at the Campaign Media Awards, but its work in general achieved a lower profile than in recent years.

Naked is well into its fifth year and it will be interesting to see how far the company can stretch its joint-venture model in the UK - and open new offices abroad - without spreading its founders Will Collin, John Harlow and Jon Wilkins too thin.

Type of agency Communications planning

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel John Harlow founder

Jon Wilkins founder

Will Collin founder

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 n/a

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 n/a

Total accounts year end 61

Accounts gained 27

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 46

Score last year 9

OGILVY & MATHER - 4

It has been a few years since Ogilvy & Mather made a big splash in the market and 2004 was no different - apart for the Dove campaign, which produced some of the most eye-catching and successful billboard ads of the year. The "real women" campaign, which featured "normal" people instead of stick-thin models, was unquestionably the year's creative climax for O&M.

Elsewhere - on Ford, Castrol and Lucozade - the reel began to show signs of improvement as the executive creative director, Malcolm Poynton, completed his first full year in the hot seat. The jury is still out on whether he has what it takes to oversee a complete turnaround.

James Sinclair quit his post at the helm of Ford's creative output and Richard Russell joined from Wieden & Kennedy as a creative partner.

New-business performance was an area for concern, as it had been in 2003.

Success last year was restricted to small-scale victories on Ocado, Cancer Research, Tilda Rice and Nutricia globally.

O&M missed out on the higher-profile accounts that would once have been its mainstay: Direct Line, Burger King and Flora all opted for more creative shops.

The agency gave away the chance to launch Unilever's low-carb range in the UK and failed to secure the Direct Line business, despite being given a second chance.

Ogilvy & Mather appears to have lost its once strong domestic presence, now seeming more like a satellite of the network's successful New York operation. It needs to start building a local personality in 2005 and put itself back on the creative and new-business maps.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel Mike Walsh chairman

Paul Jackson chief executive

Malcolm Poynton executive creative

director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £235m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £253m

Total accounts year end 45

Accounts gained 6

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 300

Score last year 3

OGILVYONE - 7

After a series of extremely ordinary years, OgilvyOne ended 2004 as direct marketing's unlikely star performer in terms of new business.

It pulled in billings worth a massive £42 million, more than half of which came from HBOS Retail, the account it won after a ten-month pitch process involving Rapier, MRM and Publicis Dialog.

The agency started the year by pinching the Cancer Research acquisition business from WWAV Rapp Collins. It followed this by winning the Mothercare direct account and landing Unilever's low-carb food range, Carb Options.

OgilvyOne was appointed to implement pan-European customer relationship management programmes for Sunsilk, Knorr and Nestle and benefited from Kraft's realignment out of Young & Rubicam and into Ogilvy & Mather. Its only loss - BP Retail - came near the start of the year.

Having presided over such a good year,the chairman, Paul O'Donnell, enters 2005 in the new role of chairman of OgilvyOne Europe. Last November, he announced a succession plan in which Mike Dodds and Guy Lambert became joint managing directors and Rory Sutherland was promoted to vice-chairman.

The restructure moves Sutherland even further away from the daily running of the creative department and gives the creative director, Cordell Burke, a freer hand.

The agency produced some decent work (its pack for Comfort was a creative highlight), won a smattering of largely results-based awards and kept most of its clients happy. Burke may not yet have recreated OgilvyOne's golden age but the industry has changed a lot since then, so perhaps it is time to stop judging the modern agency by the standards of its illustrious past.

OgilvyOne is one of a handful of large direct agencies that really struggled during the recent advertising recession. In 2004, inspired by a healthier new-business landscape and the freeing up of client budgets, the agency finally reminded the industry that it is still a force to be reckoned with.

Type of agency Direct marketing

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel Paul O'Donnell chairman (Europe)

Rory Sutherland vice-chairman and

creative director

Mike Dodds joint managing director

Guy Lambert joint managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 n/a

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 n/a

Total accounts year end 15

Accounts gained 6

Accounts lost 1

Number of staff 250

Score last year 4

OMD - 6

Events at OMD Group were more convoluted in 2004 than the plot of Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep. Whether the company's new chief executive, Nick Manning, emerges from the confusion as resplendent as Philip Marlowe, Chandler's rough-diamond private detective, should become clear during 2005.

Manning, formerly the chief executive of Manning Gottlieb OMD, was appointed to head the UK group in March. The plan was to provide greater links between Manning Gottlieb and its larger sister agency, OMD UK, while stopping short of a full merger.

Then came the twists and turns. Paul Taylor, OMD UK's long-serving chief executive, took more of a back-seat role. A group board, comprising the leadership of both agencies, was then formed. This was followed by the creation of OPera, an Omnicom buying unit, in partnership with PHD.

Paddington-based OMD UK had an up-and-down year in terms of new business, bringing in £18 million from Emap Consumer Media's Grazia magazine launch, Express Shopping Channel, Harper Collins and Onken. It lost close to £16 million from the departure of South Africa Tourism, Halfords and Nestle petfoods.

OMD UK's work was of a good standard - its Hasbro Action Man activity won awards and its campaigns for Nestle and Vodafone also caught the eye.

There was less stability at MG OMD. Alison Wright, its managing director, left the agency in October. This followed the agency's loss of its £19 million More Than business as well as Safeway and NPower. Large wins for MG OMD were hard to come by but it picked up 15 accounts, including Conde Nast's Easy Living, Teacher Training Agency, Reebok and Friends Reunited.

Work for Eurostar, Virgin Trains and the AA all won awards.

Manning Gottlieb's new management triumvirate of Robert Ffitch, Neil Hurman and Phil Nunn decided not to repitch for the AA, which called a review late in the year. Questions about how well MG OMD was fitting into the OPera structure were raised internally as rumours of TV trading issues abounded.

MG OMD needs to stop losing clients to return to top form in 2005. OPera's glitches should also be ironed out and the fruits of group co-operation made tangible to new and established clients.

Type of agency Media

Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary

Key personnel Nick Manning group chief executive

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £476m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £427m

TV billings 57%

Press billings 24%

Outdoor billings 8%

Radio billings 9%

New-media billings 0%

Below-the-line billings 0%

Other 2%

Total accounts year end 182

Accounts gained 50

Accounts lost 6

Number of staff 306

Score last year 6

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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