Top 300 Agencies: School Reports. (Part 1 of 5)

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 24 February 2006 12:00AM

2005 was the year Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO miraculously clung on to Sainsbury's and BT, Sir Frank Lowe nabbed Tesco from the agency he founded, TBWA\London said goodbye to Trevor Beattie and Bartle Bogle Hegarty won the British Airways and Omo global pitches.

PHD rediscovered its form of old and led the media agency sector with its fresh approach to planning. Carat piled on the billings when it won Abbey, as did ZenithOptimedia when it scooped L'Oreal. But it was the digital specialist i-level that trumped the traditionalists when it picked up the Orange online planning and buying account.

Rapier, the service-brand specialist, left rivals spluttering in its dust when it raced ahead with new-business billings of £39 million.

The online creative agency Dare showed the same appetite for success as its part-parent, BBH. It won the online pitch of the year for the AA's account, led the sector creatively and was named Agency of the Year for a third year running.

It was also the year we asked agencies to fight their own corners and, for the first time, reveal their highs and lows of the past 12 months in 50 words.

SCORE KEY

9 Outstanding - 8 Excellent - 7 Good - 6 Satisfactory - 5 Adequate - 4 Below average - 3 Poor - 2 A year to forget - 1 Survival in question

ABBOTT MEAD VICKERS BBDO

Type of agency Advertising Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary Key personnel Cilla Snowball chairman - Farah Ramzan Golant chief executive - Peter Souter executive creative director Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £384m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £376m Total accounts year end 54 Accounts won 8 (biggest: RAC) Accounts lost 0 Number of staff 291

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO's year will be remembered more for the agency's Houdini-like ability to escape disaster than for the successful advance of its business. AMV weathered a nerve-racking 12 months admirably, defying the odds to triumph in two of the biggest pitches of 2005, worth £100 million.

To defend and retain both BT and Sainsbury's was a gargantuan - and unprecedented - achievement. The agency also brought in Digital UK and the RAC, and joined the Motorola roster.

AMV also used 2005 to adopt a new position as Farah Ramzan Golant completed her first year as chief executive. She has unveiled her team, moving Paul Brazier into the executive creative director's chair and appointing Ian Pearman and George Bryant managing partners.

The creative output was mixed, something attributable, no doubt, to a change in creative leadership. Guinness' "noitulove" was a highlight but work for Camelot lacked creative credibility.

This was an important year in the agency's history. Ramzan Golant is gently transforming what was Abbott Mead Vickers into BBDO. It is no easy task, given AMV's fantastic heritage. However, BT and Sainsbury's clearly believe she is building a future-facing agency.

Score last year: 5

Score this year: 7

How AMV BBDO rates itself: 9

"Paul Brazier, creative director: 'It's like Strictly Come Dancing. Will AMV get a generous Len Goodman or a harsh Craig Revel-Hall, who will automatically give us 2/9? We kept Homebase, Sainsbury's and BT. We won Motorola, SwitchCo and RAC. And we produced some great ads. I'd give us 9/9. Just in case we get Revel-Hall.'"

AGENCY REPUBLIC

Type of agency Digital full service Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary Key personnel Martin Brooks chief executive - Jane McNeill managing director - Andy Sandoz creative director - Patrick Griffith planning director Declared income n/s Accounts won 8 (biggest: Mercedes) Accounts lost 0 Creative 40% Media planning and buying 30% Web design/build 20% Consultancy 10% Biggest-spending clients 02, Dunlop, Egg Number of staff 65

Agency Republic followed 2004's bumper new-business performance with a year that was almost as good, although its creative output remains an area of relative weakness. The highlight of 2005's new-business effort came right at the end of the year, when it won Mercedes-Benz UK's digital marketing account. That win capped what was already an impressive run of account wins - Republic was appointed to the BBC's three-strong digital roster in April and won each of the three subsequent roster pitches. It joined the Unilever roster in May and went on to pick up briefs for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, Knorr and Hellmann's.

The agency also moved to plug the creative gap that appeared when James Cooper left for Dare at the end of 2004. It hired Gavin Gordon-Rodgers and Gemma Butler from glue London as senior creatives in February, and brought in Andy Sandoz from Randommedia as the head of art in June. Sandoz was promoted to the creative director's role in October.

Republic's Egg win generated the agency's outstanding creative work of the year - the guinea pig campaign, developed in close partnership with Mother against a six-week deadline.

The first online brand campaign for BBC News was also impressive in feeding live news into banners but, aside from it and Egg, strong creative campaigns remained relatively thin on the ground.

Republic ended the year with the formation of Zulu, in partnership with its sister Omnicom shops Claydon Heeley Jones Mason, Alcone and Code, to offer a more integrated service across the spectrum of direct communications.

Digital marketing will now be the group's focus.

Score last year: 8

Score this year: 8

How Agency Republic rates itself: 8

"In a year when the sector soared, we did everything right. Republic won work from Mercedes, Unilever, the BBC, Diageo and Unicef. We held on to all our people, doubled in size and profit, won awards, did our best-ever creative work and had a load of fun."

AGENCY.COM

Type of agency Digital full service Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary Key personnel Andy Hobsbawm European chairman David Eastman managing director Heidi Noujeimhead planning director Paul Banham creative director Declared income £9.1m (2004) Accounts won 15 (biggest: Ladbrokes) Accounts lost 1 (NSPCC) Creative 35% Media planning and buying 15% Web design/build 30% Consultancy 20% Biggest-spending clients British Airways, BT, Ladbrokes Number of staff 127

Agency.com's performance improved vastly following its merger last year with itraffic and the resultant exodus of senior staff. The agency was one of the few digital specialists to produce consistently strong creative work in almost every month of 2005.

The year started well with the £10 million win of Ladbrokes' integrated CRM business in partnership with WWAV Rapp Collins (WWAV lost the DM element later to Claydon Heeley Jones Mason).

That kick-started a spate of new-business wins that included John Lewis, InterContinental Hotels, the luxury mobile phone brand Vertu and Channel 4. The agency did lose one significant piece of business, its award-winning NSPCC account, which moved to DNA in July. The agency now needs to replace the NSPCC business with an account that offers a similar creative opportunity.

It was the agency's best year ever in awards terms, helped in no small part by the NSPCC "someone to turn to" campaign. The work won the first-ever gold at the Campaign Digital Awards.

Strong creative campaigns for 2005 included new work for the NSPCC, the usual high standard for British Airways (the airline, it should be remembered, did not tinker with its digital agency arrangements when it reviewed its ad account out of M&C Saatchi in the summer) and some good stuff for John Lewis and the COI organ donation campaign.

Management changes continued, however. In May, Bill Brock, the agency's sales and marketing chief, was poached by Tribal DDB to become its managing director. He was quickly replaced by Nick Corston, who joined at the same time as Alan McCulloch, the new head of client services. McCulloch, however, left just six months later.

Score last year: 4

Score this year: 7

How Agency.com rates itself: 7

"What marked this year was the way existing and prospective clients valued our integrated strategic approach and put us at the heart of their planning.

This has driven great creative, effectiveness and plenty of awards, including Campaign's first Digital gold. A top year but 2006 will be better!"

AKQA

Type of agency Digital advertising Company ownership Private company Key personnel Ajaz Ahmed chairman Tom Bedecarre chief executive Michael De Kare-Silver managing director Daniel Bonner creative director Declared income £12.8m Accounts won 8 (biggest: Coca-Cola global) Accounts lost 0 Creative 40% Media planning and buying 5% Web design/build 40% Consultancy 15% Biggest-spending clients n/s Number of staff 170 (UK)

AKQA's year was notable for the agency's success in one of the biggest (and, probably, the sexiest) global digital pitches of the year the £3 million contest for the creative lead of Coca-Cola's worldwide website, iCoke. The agency triumphed against an impressive list of the world's best international digital agencies, including R/GA, Modem Media and Avenue A/Razorfish. And although the account will be run out of New York, the pitch was handled with creative leadership from London.

The Coke victory aside, new business in the UK was relatively quiet.

AKQA improved its relationship with Unilever over the course of year, wresting some pan-European work on Lynx/Axe, and also won a brief for PG Tips. It picked up the digital creative account for the RAC and won its second brief for ITV after a competitive pitch. Globally, revenue growth (UK figures bundled in) - at 24 per cent - was modest by some digital standards but that figure comes from a very solid base at what is one of the more well-established agencies in the internet space.

The agency remained focused on producing award-winning work and building the business internationally. It plans to open in China and Japan later this year and hired a number of world-renowned digital creatives during 2005, including Rei Inamoto and PJ Pereira.

AKQA won more than 15 creative awards in the UK, including a Cannes Cyber Lion for Peperami and a D&AD Pencil for Nike Run London. The year's other high-quality work included the Yell campaign, which used live feeds to change creative executions depending on the weather, and a content-driven Peperami "Noodles Army" website.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 7

How AKQA rates itself: 8

"Letting the work do the talking remains AKQA's maxim. In London, AKQA won a Cannes Lion, a D&AD, a BIMA and the Revolution Grand Prix. Internationally, AKQA became the first agency to be named Advertising Age Creativity magazine's Interactive Agency of the Year. Globally, AKQA retained all clients and its independence."

ARC LONDON

Type of agency Direct marketing Company ownership Publicis Groupe subsidiary Key personnel Mike Spicer managing director Tanya Sergant operations officer Aaron Martin joint creative director Garry Munns joint creative director Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £4m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £4m Total accounts yr end 52 Accounts won 8 (biggest: InterContinental Hotels Group) Accounts lost 3 (biggest: English Heritage) Number of staff 150

After a year of relative calm for Arc London, 2005 proved to be one of upheaval. The year started smoothly with the arrival of the new creative director, Simon Darwell-Taylor, whose appointment ended the agency's four-month search for a replacement for Jack Nolan and Graham Mills.

A product of the Leo Burnett/D'Arcy merger, Arc started the year with a stable management team at global, regional and local level. But that did not last too long. The first of a series of top-level departures began in June when John Quarrey, the chief executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, resigned after 17 years to form Krow. Next it was the turn of Nick Brien, the worldwide chief executive, who left to join Universal McCann. Brien, who had been building the global Arc network, was replaced swiftly by Marc Lansberg, the former Leo Burnett chief strategy officer, whom Brien had made president of Arc Worldwide a year before. Lansberg replaced Quarrey with Andrew Edwards, the chief executive of Leo Burnett Sydney, as the president of Arc EMEA.

Events took a turn for the worse in October when Darwell-Taylor departed, leaving Arc without a permanent creative head once again. Aaron Martin and Garry Munns took over in the interim and were installed as joint creative directors in January.

On the new-business front, there was little activity of note. The highest-profile win was InterContinental Hotels' £7 million integrated account, which Arc scooped at the start of the year.

However, the agency's hold on the business was loosened by yet another management departure. The board account director, Jane Griffiths, left in December to join Citibank, prompting a review. Other wins included Monster.co.uk, a Nestle project and Fiat's commercial vehicles account.

The year ended on a positive note when Arc's work for Great Ormond Street Hospital scooped the Grand Prix at the Direct Marketing Association Awards.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 5

How Arc rates itself: 7

"In 2005, we focused on growing existing business and strengthening the management team. Our industry reputation was enhanced through our awards success as we were named Agency of the Year twice (ISP and MCCA) and won the Grand Prix at the DMAs. Success like that can not be disputed."

ARCHIBALD INGALL STRETTON

Type of agency Direct marketing Company ownership Minority owned by Havas Key personnel Stuart Archibald managing partner Jon Ingall managing partner Steve Stretton creative partner Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £3m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £4m Total accounts year end 10 Accounts won 2 (biggest: Je Joue) Accounts lost 1 (UIA Insurance) Number of staff 92

Expanded offices, the launch of a digital division and the creation of more acclaimed work suggests Archibald Ingall Stretton continues to move in the right direction.

However, new business was weak. It did not lose any key clients, but it failed to convert much of its pitch activity. The only significant win, barring the Je Joue vibrator business, was Air Miles in November.

Against this, AIS's sole loss in 2005 was the £3 million UIA Insurance account, which moved to Draft London.

On the positive side, AIS continued to get more business through existing clients, claiming a 20 per cent hike in income and a record year for profits.

The launch of the dais digital division contributed to this. Led by Jon Buckley, the former head of digital at Boymeetsgirl, dais is now working for BMW, O2, Moet Hennessy and Skoda, among others.

The agency had a rewarding year in creative terms, producing strong integrated work for the likes of O2, Skoda and City & Guilds. Its Octavia work for Skoda won Best Integrated Campaign at the Campaign Direct Awards and its Scope work picked up a gold award for best copy at the Direct Marketing Association Awards.

Some new senior support was brought in to enable the partners to focus on business development. Jo Boyd, the former head of account management at Euro RSCG London, joined as a client services director to work with the newly promoted Alistair Bryan, who holds the same title.

AIS continued to deliver in broad business and creative terms, but it should hope for a more active new-business year in 2006.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 6

How AIS rates itself: 7

"Steve Stretton: 'This felt like the year we finally grew up (that's the agency, not me). The business carried on growing, we took over the whole building, grew existing clients, added a few new ones and won grown-up awards. The work got better, the five-a-side team won a trophy and, to cap it all, we actually made money. At least a 7, I'd say.'"

BARTLE BOGLE HEGARTY

Type of agency Advertising Company ownership 49% owned by Publicis Groupe Key personnel Nigel Bogle group chief executive John Hegarty group chairman, worldwide creative director Simon Sherwood group operating officer John O'Keeffe executive creative director Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £208m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £202m Total accounts year end 54 Accounts won 11 (biggest: Omo) Accounts lost 2 (biggest: ITV) Number of staff 382

Where to start? A record third consecutive Campaign Agency of the Year title; creative credentials underlined by a fourth Agency of the Year win at the British Television Advertising Awards (another record); and the small matter of the British Airways, Vaseline and Omo wins ... 2005 was a year for Bartle Bogle Hegarty to savour.

The year began as it no doubt ended, with booze.

In January, BBH tightened its grip on the Diageo account with the arrival of the £19 million Smirnoff ready-to-drink business after a six-month pitch against JWT and the Smirnoff Ice incumbent, Mother.

BBH versus JWT was a battle that would resume later in the year; first in the pitch for Sainsbury's, where BBH got knocked out in the first round, and JWT at the final hurdle; and again on BA and Omo.

Twelve months and £302.8 million in new global billings later, BBH enters 2006 in rude health, both in the UK and as a network. Cindy Gallop's departure as the chairman and chief marketing officer of the New York office she founded was a blow to the agency. However, her replacement, in the form of the US advertising veteran Steve Harty, is a canny move that should enable BBH to fine-tune itself for the US market and help it win more local business.

Add to that the launch of a Chinese office, headed by the former Wieden & Kennedy Tokyo managing director Arto Hampartsoumian, and the network goes from strength to strength.

In London, meanwhile, BBH has continued its policy of promoting from within, recalling Ben Fennell from Singapore as a replacement for Derek Robson as managing director. Fennell will arrive in March, giving him nine months to take BBH to a fourth Campaign Agency of the Year title.

The London office also launched a "fourth discipline", its engagement planning department, headed by the Soul co-founder Kevin Brown.

Levi's was a highlight in an otherwise dry creative year. In terms of creative output, BBH showed signs of strain in bedding down its many wins of 2004. It must work hard to avoid this happening again in 2006.

Score last year: 9

Score this year: 9

How BBH rates itself: 8

"Strong ongoing relationships. Excellent new-business performance. Launched a TV channel. Work good but could be better."

BDH\TBWA

Type of agency Advertising Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary Key personnel Neil Griffiths chief executive Nick Brookes managing director Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £64m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £55m Total accounts year end 31 Accounts won 7 (biggest: Jameson) Accounts lost 1 (Focus) Number of staff 140

The going got a lot tougher for BDH\TBWA last year so 2005 will go down as a year of steady progress rather than spectacular growth. True, the Manchester operation continued its year-on-year improvement in turnover and profits. But it is having to work harder for both. Where once its stature and reputation almost guaranteed its place on any significant pitch north of Watford and south of Hadrian's Wall, hard-pressed London agencies are now contesting such business in greater numbers.

An example was Patak's, the Lancashire-based Indian food company whose £1 million account was secured against competition from VCCP, FCB London and Team Saatchi. At the same time, BDH had to convince Cadbury Schweppes it could handle the UK relaunch of Orangina.

However, the agency was disappointed not to prise the £8 million Redrow Homes account from Poulter Partners and it missed out to McCann Erickson Manchester in the race for Center Parcs.

As a result, BDH has been attempting to tap other revenue streams to augment bedrock business such as Morrisons, particularly in brand consultancy.

It hopes this route will take it further upstream with business prospects and lead to chunkier assignments.

The challenge for 2006 will be to match the intensified competition and strong propositions presented by its new rivals from the capital. But if the agency is to force its way on to more pitchlists, more top-notch creative work is essential. That will put intense demands on Gary Hulme and Chris Lear, the long-serving BDH duo appointed to succeed Andy Lockley as creative directors. Lockley, the former creative chief of Publicis Mojo in New Zealand, left BDH last year after just nine months.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 5

How BDH\TBWA rates itself: 7

"It was a year for rolling up the sleeves - getting the right people in the right positions, delivering better thinking and a better end product. It clearly paid off for existing and new clients. The only shortfall was that our public profile didn't accurately reflect everything that we'd achieved."

BEATTIE MCGUINNESS BUNGAY

Type of agency Advertising Company ownership Private company Key personnel Trevor Beattie founding partner Andrew McGuinness founding partner Bil Bungay founding partner David Bain planning partner Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £8m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 n/a Total accounts year end 9 Accounts won 8 (biggest: First Choice) Accounts lost 0 Number of staff 32

The shock departures of Trevor Beattie, Andrew McGuinness and Bil Bungay from TBWA\London last May were surrounded by rumours of sackings and tales of tapping-up clients. Whatever the trio's reasons for leaving the relative comfort of Whitfield Street, the reality of life as a nine-month-old start-up must surely be exceeding expectations.

It was no surprise that French Connection went with Beattie. That Beattie McGuinness Bungay also won Sky News, Sky One, HP Sauce, the US launch of OK!, First Choice (the biggest-billing client of the bunch), Zoo and a nebulous project for the new White City shopping centre in west London is even more impressive. Billings of £27.5 million in just seven months marks a quick start out of the blocks.

If the industry underestimated the degree of success BMB would enjoy in its infancy, it also failed to predict the effect Beattie's departure would have on TBWA he is still a big draw for clients and his personality has swung more than one account his new agency's way.

Three months into its existence, BMB announced the appointment of David Bain as its fourth partner, heading the planning department. Bain's brief stint at his previous agency - he was at Saatchi & Saatchi for just two months - raised more than a few eyebrows but the lure of an undisclosed equity stake in an exciting new agency clearly proved too hard to resist.

So 2005 was an impressive first year all round for BMB; the only thing missing is a large body of creative work on which to judge the outfit.

But with Beattie and his craftsman, Bungay, at the helm, most people believe BMB's output will be as impressive as its ability to win business.

Score last year: n/a

Score this year: 7

How BMB rates itself: 7

"We could say it's been quite a year. But it's only been nine months. Since BMB formed in May we've had a rather splendid time. We won eight of our first ten pitches. We've formed some strong new relationships with ambitious clients, who'll be expecting a lot from us in 2006. We're happy Herberts."

BJK&E

Type of agency Media Company ownership WPP subsidiary Key personnel Tim Irwin joint managing director James Jennings joint managing director Tara Marus board director Andy Aston board director Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £53m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £63m Total accounts year end 28 Accounts won 5 (biggest: Systems Capital Management) Accounts lost 0 TV 41% Press 41% Out of home 9% Radio 2% Below the line 0% Other 7% Number of staff 25

BJK&E made solid progress in 2005, enjoying some small new-business success and losing no accounts. Last year's report criticised the London-based outfit for relying too heavily on strong relationships with existing clients. In January, Tim Howett joined as the business development director from Guardian Newspapers in an attempt to rev up the agency's new-business drive.

The search for new business has been a partially successful one. The joint managing directors, James Jennings and Tim Irwin, landed five new accounts totalling a potential £11 million, equivalent to 20 per cent of the agency's annual billings. Highlights included the Environment Agency; Leaf UK; Travel Bag; System Capital Management and Global Trader.

The agency did some interesting work for Canon and Mercedes-Benz, the latter receiving a commendation at the Campaign Media Awards.

Although question marks have surrounded BJK&E's continued existence in WPP's media empire (rumours of a roll-in to Mediaedge:cia have proved premature), there's no doubt that access to the Group M structure has made its future more secure.

It would be good to see BJK&E continuing to leverage this power in 2006 and news that the agency is beefing up its digital offering is a sign of planning for the future.

Having rightly concentrated on its weaknesses, the agency should look to build its reputation for strong, planning-driven work in 2006.

Score last year: 5

Score this year: 5

How BJK&E rates itself: 7

"What was right about us last year - interesting work, clear positioning and amazing client retention - is still right. Where we lacked in 2004 - new business - we have made good progress. With five wins making up £11 million in new billings, we now have a strong platform to win more and continue to grow in 2006."

BLM

Type of agency Media Company ownership Private company Key personnel Nick Lockett chairman Steve Booth chief executive Charlie Makin chief strategic officer Paul van Barthold chief operating officer Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £63m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £78m Total accounts year end 82 Accounts won 15 (biggest: Invesco Perpetual) Accounts lost 3 (biggest: Intelligent Finance) TV 41% Press 21% Out of home 6% Radio 2% Below the line 0% Other 30% Number of staff 25

After a storming new-business year in 2004, BLM had a steadier time in 2005. But, given the agency's size and independent status, it was still a quietly impressive performance. The founding partners, Steve Booth, Nick Lockett and Charlie Makin, are all still heavily involved and the management team installed in 2004 and headed by the chief operating officer, Paul van Barthold, remained stable. This produced some strong work across the board and most key accounts were retained.

Nikon was an exception. It departed the agency after a pan-European review and consolidation into MediaCom - a scenario to which any domestic shop is vulnerable.

On the upside, BLM pulled in a few solid, if rather small, accounts, such as Hero Foods, which hired the agency to launch a fruit drink. BLM's work for Dennis Publishing's Maxim won a Campaign Media Award and the publisher also briefed the agency to launch its Poker Player magazine.

Other wins included the launch of City AM, more gambling with the PokerStars account, the Inchcape car dealership and Club 18-30. The year was rounded off nicely when BLM won a pitch for the £4 million Invesco Perpetual business.

BLM created a direct response division, Futures Direct, which complements its Quantum digital unit.

All in all, BLM is holding its own in a difficult market for the independents and creating some of the best work in its history. The addition of a few more sizeable domestic accounts in 2006 wouldn't go amiss, though.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 6

How BLM rates itself: 8

"BLM secured its position as the media agency of choice for medium-sized clients. Wins totalled £40 million, including Hero and Invesco; digital billings doubled with wins such as T-Mobile's £9 million online budget. BLM's strategic strength was recognised by Campaign awards, a gold IPA Effectiveness Award and the Media Week Awards

Grand Prix."

CAMPBELL DOYLE DYE

Type of agency Advertising Company ownership Private company Key personnel Walter Campbell creative partner Sean Doyle creative partner Casper Thykier managing director Andy Lear planning director Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £20m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £18m Total accounts year end 11 Accounts won 5 (biggest: Bacardi Breezer) Accounts lost 0 Number of staff 27

Campbell Doyle Dye ended 2005 in much the same way as it ended 2004 - by failing to deliver on its potential. Since its launch, CDD has attracted best-in-class talent but that talent has started to jump ship. Alison Hoad, the agency's planning partner, quit to join Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R as its vice-chairman early in the year. The end of the year was marred by the departure of one of the creative partners, Dave Dye.

However, the management changes do not appear to have worried key clients - the agency lost no business over the year. In fact, there were numerous wins, such as Bacardi Breezer, AQA (Any Question Answered), the National Gallery and Highland Park whisky. None of them, however, is big enough to put CDD seriously on the map, which means the agency is still over-dependent on its founding £17 million Mercedes account.

CDD currently operates on the fringes of adland it contributes an occasional belter in creative terms but rarely wins major pitches. Even if the agency's remaining founders do not want to build a large business, they need more meaty accounts to showcase their creative firepower.

In the autumn, CDD launched Sherlock Communications, a joint planning venture with PHD, and announced it was moving to Soho. The remaining management team appears to be attempting to make a fresh start without Hoad and Dye.

The year to come will reveal whether it has the right strategy.

Score last year: 3

Score this year: 4

How CDD rates itself: 6

"CDD is slowly building itself a reputation for being highly creative and reassuringly consistent. Its work across all 11 clients continues to shine. Its joint venture with PHD, Sherlock, demonstrates a forward-thinking approach. Wins included Bacardi Breezer, AQA, Highland Park, Bitburger and the National Gallery. Real potential is starting to show."

CARAT

Type of agency Media Company ownership Aegis subsidiary Key personnel Nigel Sharrocks chief executive, Aegis Media UK and Ireland Neil Jones managing director, Carat Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £677m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £585m Total accounts year end 78 Accounts won 14 (biggest: COI TV buying) Accounts lost 14 (biggest: News International) TV 46% Press 18% Out of home 6% Radio 3% Below the line 7% Other 20% Number of staff 352

The first half of 2005 was a turbulent time for the Aegis-owned agency as it fought to keep the ship steady after the departure of the managing director, Colin Mills, and the head of media, Mark Jarvis. But, against the odds, Carat had a pretty good year.

The chief executive of Aegis UK and Ireland, Nigel Sharrocks, handed Mills' role to Neil Jones after a long search for a successor. Sharrocks and Jones share a vision and bring complementary skills to the table.

Both believe promotion from within is the way forward and Jones' first move as managing director was to promote Steve Platt to Jarvis' old job.

This was the year the agency tried to update its image. Famously the home of the tough media trader, Carat is attempting to become known for its broad range of services, such as direct and digital.

On the new-business front, Carat appeared on most of the big pitchlists.

And although the agency's long-standing client News International left at the end of the year, the £30 million deficit did not affect Carat's position in Campaign's new-business league.

The highlight of the year was wresting the £70 million COI TV buying account from Starcom. The agency then went on to win a string of pitches, finishing the year with a billings haul of £145.6 million.

In 2006, the agency is aiming to increase its income from diversified services, such as Carat Direct and Carat Insight, to 40 per cent of its revenue. With plans to work more closely with media owners and creatives and to put data planning centre stage, the agency is in good shape as it enters 2006.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 7

How Carat rates itself: 7

"An interesting, challenging but very good year. A new management structure and vision were established to capitalise on the changing media world. The key success was liberating our talent at all levels, producing great work for existing clients and a record year in new business."

CHEETHAMBELL JWT

Type of agency Advertising Company ownership WPP subsidiary Key personnel David Bell chief executive Andy Cheetham creative director Katrina Michel chairman Paul Watson managing director Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £56m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £57m Total accounts year end 34 Accounts won 8 (biggest: Magnet) Accounts lost 0 Number of staff 105

The Manchester-based JWT shop experienced mixed fortunes in 2004, when two major accounts moved to southern agencies. However, 2005 was a major improvement, with nine new-business wins, totalling almost £26 million, and no account losses.

The agency's biggest victory was the £9 million Magnet account, which moved from McCann Erickson Manchester, now the agency's closest rival.

This account helped Cheethambell remain the country's biggest regional agency.

As well as picking up the £5 million Bradford & Bingley account from M&C Saatchi, and the £2.5 million Casio brief, the agency took on more than £6 million worth of COI business for the Health and Safety Executive and alcohol stamp duty.

Cheethambell appeared in the Campaign new-business league for nine months. Its impressive performance was helped by Katrina Michel's promotion from head of planning to chairman, with direct responsibility for building new business and strengthening client relationships.

The agency also worked hard to confirm its presence as a fast-turnaround but creative alternative to the London agencies. It won prizes at numerous awards ceremonies, including The One Show and The Roses.

Its most prominent work was a spoof soft-porn campaign for Scruffs Workwear.

It not only picked up seven nominations at Cannes, winning silver and bronze in the integrated and direct categories respectively, but also won a place on WPP's worldwide showreel at the request of Sir Martin Sorrell himself.

Holding on to all of its accounts in 2005 was a major achievement for the agency. Cheethambell should have no problem staying at number one in the regions in 2006 if it can continue in this vein.

Score last year: 4

Score this year: 6

How Cheethambell rates itself: 8

"It was our best year ever because we won nine new accounts, including Magnet, Casio and Bradford & Bingley; lost none; grew existing business, especially COI; created great work from the Scruffs controversial 'porn' campaign to 'here to help' for Lemsip; and provided Manchester's best-ever showing at Cannes."

CLAYDON HEELEY JONES MASON

Type of agency Direct marketing Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary Key personnel Jon Claydon chairman Leo Campbell deputy chairman Martin Brooks chief executive Mike Welsh managing director Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £10m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £8m Total accounts year end 38 Accounts won 7 (biggest: Ladbrokes) Accounts lost 1 (Callaway Golf) Number of staff 124

Claydon Heeley Jones Mason was always going to have a tough time improving on 2004, when it was named Campaign's Direct Agency of the Year.

However, no-one was prepared for the upheaval that came two-thirds of the way through 2005, when the chief executive, Nigel Jones, dropped a bombshell by announcing he was leaving for FCB.

Jones' departure was an unwelcome surprise. However, the agency responded with characteristic bullishness, creating a convincing new structure that appears, at this early stage, to be progressive.

The chairman, Jon Claydon, returned to work full time for a short period and formalised the creation of a working group of agencies called Zulu.

Martin Brooks, the chief executive of the Omnicom digital shop Agency Republic was promoted and his role extended to cover Claydon Heeley. Brooks also became the chief executive of Zulu, which includes the sales promotion agency Alcone and the software company Code. Mike Welsh was promoted to managing director and Tim Millar joined as the new strategy director in January.

Despite Jones' departure, the agency enjoyed a year of steady growth.

It won business from Channel 4 and Ancestry.co.uk and continued to get more business from existing clients such as Egg and ING. It even swiped Ladbrokes from its Omnicom rival WWAV Rapp Collins and its creative standards remained high. However, The Guardian, its creative showcase account, left to set up an in-house division at the end of the year (although Claydon Heeley will support the newspaper on the odd project).

Claydon Heeley's challenge for 2006 is to return to the stability and form it enjoyed in 2004 and to prove that the restructure is not the gimmick its critics accuse it of being.

Score last year: 9

Score this year: 6

How Claydon Heeley rates itself: 8

"Starting 2005 as Campaign's incumbent Direct Agency of the Year, we expected a satisfying 12 months and were not disappointed. The creative product combined multiple D&AD entries and ever-higher response rates and our new-business record was strong. Most importantly, the talent base in the agency is the strongest we can remember."

CLEMMOW HORNBY INGE

Type of agency Advertising Company ownership Private company Key personnel Johnny Hornby managing partner Charles Inge creative partner Simon Clemmow planning partner Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £143m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £88m Total accounts year end 44 Accounts won 14 (biggest: Toyota Yaris) Accounts lost 2 (biggest: Direct Line) Number of staff 133

Expanding at the rate it has for the past four years, Clemmow Hornby Inge could be forgiven for suffering a few growing pains in 2005. These came in the form of account losses - the twin departures of Expedia and Direct Line were a blow.

Of course, CHI's new-business machine being what it is, this loss was more than compensated for by wins such as Argos (£35 million), Royal Bank of Scotland (£32 million), Teletext (£3 million) and, better still, further slices of the Toyota business. The agency pinched the £35 million pan-European Corolla and £50 million Yaris accounts from under Saatchi & Saatchi's nose.

Significant billings from heavyweight advertisers such as Argos, Toyota and RBS mean CHI is now an established agency. Achieving such billings, up by 61.5 per cent in 2005, in under five years is an impressive feat.

Also impressive was the agency's ability to convince The Daily Telegraph to stay when all the signs suggested the business was about to depart.

CHI's grip on the paper owes no small debt to its direct division, Hall Moore CHI, which snared the Telegraph's £8.5 million direct account in July.

These account management skills will be boosted even further in 2006 with the arrival of the former HHCL United chief executive, Nick Howarth, as the group chief executive.

CHI has suffered from the widely held belief that its creative department takes a back seat at the expense of new business. But strong work for Talk Talk - the Big Brother sponsorship idents were hailed as some of the best ever - Anchor and even Argos shows Charles Inge's department is more sinned against than sinning. Nevertheless, the appointment of Ewan Paterson as the executive creative director in November demonstrates the agency is aware it needs to strengthen its creative credentials.

Score last year: 9

Score this year: 8

How CHI rates itself: 8

"In 2005, we entered the ranks of the top 20 agencies in London and the top 20 most creatively awarded agencies in the world in The Gunn Report. We hired some brilliant people and ended the year with an amazing Christmas party."

CRAIK JONES WATSON MITCHELL VOELKEL

Type of agency Direct marketing Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary Key personnel David Watson chief executive Fiona Scott managing director Jackie Stevenson deputy managing director Mark Buckingham head of creative development Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £2m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £8m Total accounts year end 30 Accounts won 6 (biggest: Nokia) Accounts lost 1 (NatWest) Number of staff 95

At the risk of repeating Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel's 2004 school report, 2005 was a stable, if unspectacular, year. It began with a setback - the loss of the NatWest retail account in a pitch to Lida.

The departure left a large hole in an otherwise impressive list of heavyweight clients such as Orange, Boots, Unilever, Diageo, Land Rover and First Direct.

Craik Jones was keen to make up for this loss and, for an agency with such a full list of clients, it featured on a healthy number of shortlists.

It failed to convert pitches for COI's Department for Work and Pensions, the Health and Safety Executive and More Th>n. Fortunately, the agency benefited from more business from existing clients. Unilever awarded it the DM business for Bertolli, Wall's and Dove haircare, while Diageo handed it relationship marketing for Piat d'Or and Archers. Craik Jones also won the entire DM task for COI HM Revenues and Customs, and some project work for Nokia.

What the agency lacked in new business, it made up for creatively. Craik Jones produced sterling work for Virgin Trains, Gordon's Gin and First Direct. It was rewarded handsomely at the Direct Marketing Association Awards in December with 11 prizes, three of them gold.

The agency also kick-started its digital effort, using the appointment of Mark Cripps from Draft to head the division and draw attention to its offering.

Although the agency is in fine shape, 2005 lacked any major highlights.

The creative product is of a high standard but, for the agency to improve its score, it needs to turn more pitches into wins.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 6

How Craik Jones rates itself: 8

"In 2005, creative consistency was the name of the game. Eleven DMA awards (three golds) for a range of clients, First Direct, Virgin, Diageo and Land Rover, plus Echos, Caples and Precision Marketing awards kept us leading the pack. A relatively quiet new-business year didn't prevent us from growing by 10 per cent with a cracking profit margin."

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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