CAMPAIGN REPORT ON TOP 300 AGENCIES: Top new-media agencies

The baby of the marketing sector has blossomed into a multimillion-pound

industry and its top agencies now merit a Campaign ranking. Of the class

of 2000, i-Level, Beyond, Deepend, Modem and Good Technology earned top

marks.



AGENCY.COM



PRINCIPAL JOHN THEW

Declared billings n/s

Declared income 2000 24m

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2000 250



Company type: Omnicom owns 45%



Despite being part of one of the biggest global digital solutions

companies, Agency.com UK did not have the strongest year.



It did see some impressive wins including One2One, Reuters and Visa, and

it has acknowledged the importance of various emerging digital platforms

with the creation of dedicated divisions within the company. However, it

suffered as a result of the unstable internet market in 2000 and made

some considerable staff redundancies.



But it's not all bad. The agency's most respected work was for British

Airways. It was the first to use online advertising technologies in the

UK to promote BA, which made efficient use of the brand's budget. And BA

was one of the few non-technology brands in the UK to spend serious

money on internet advertising.



However, the success of the BA work was tarnished when the e-commerce

account for the brand moved out of the agency late in the year (although

it retained the digital marketing account). With it went Jason Young,

Agency.com's senior creative director, who moved to the new-media

agency, PixelPark.



Of course, Agency.com wasn't the only company to make redundancies last

year, and it remained profitable in the autumn when many of its peers

were flagging.



Others will be forced to streamline in a similar way in 2001.



SCORE: 5



AKQA



PRINCIPAL AJAZ AHMED

Declared billings 250m

Declared income 2000 60m

% of new-media work 80

Staff 2000 170



Company type: Private company



One of the names on everybody's lips during 2000, AKQA continued to go

from strength to strength.



Perceived as one of the coolest agencies in the industry, and with a

declared annual turnover of £60 million, AKQA won ten of the 12

pitches it entered in 2000. Clients including Sega Dreamcast,

Littlewoods and Nestle joined the agency's roster, which already boasted

BMW and Orange.



It wasn't all good news, however. The agency resigned an account for

which it did great work - Land Rover - after the brand was sold off by

BMW. News that AKQA had won the £1 million online advertising

account for Lloyds TSB's online project Evolvebank was squashed by

reports that the launch of the internet bank had been shelved.



The agency was also forced to postpone its planned October 2000

flotation, which was announced to much fanfare in March last year. It

cited market instability and reverted to its original plan to float in

2002.



As an independent agency with such a strong brand, there is no doubt

that AKQA will continue to grow organically throughout 2001. The

industry will be holding its breath to see if the agency sacrifices its

independence this year.



SCORE: 7



BEYOND INTERACTIVE



PRINCIPALS RICK SAREEN,

NICK SUCKLEY,

PETE ROBINS

Declared billings 5m

Declared income 2000 2m

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2000 42



Company type: Grey subsidiary



The independent online media agency media21 became part of Grey's global

new-media network, Beyond Interactive, in May 2000. Thus began its

metamorphosis from an online media shop to a full-service digital

advertising agency.



Media21 was one of the original, independent online media specialist

agencies to launch into the UK market alongside i-Level and Profero, so

its acquisition was seen as an industry landmark and as a sign of things

to come.



Beyond UK was a strong contender for Campaign's new-media agency of the

year. However, following the acquisition, it is still putting together

its in-house digital creative department given the loss of Gluemedia,

the creative shop that media21 shared with the DeepGroup but had to sell

off after its acquisition. Meanwhile, it has been working together with

other new-media agencies as creative partners.



Despite the upheaval, Beyond UK was still making the headlines with its

work in 2000. The agency will probably be best remembered for its

projects last year using WAP mobile technology. It launched the first

text link WAP advertising campaign for the online sports brand Football

365, and pioneered the first audio and visual WAP ad - for the Vnu.net

brand.



One significant win came at the end of November, when the agency scooped

the £1 million digital marketing task for MTV UK.



2001 will be a key year for Beyond as it cements its end-to-end digital

marketing offering.



SCORE: 8



DEEPEND



PRINCIPAL PETER BEECH

Declared billings 5m

Declared income 2000 5m

% of new-media work 97

Staff 2000 100



Company type: DeepGroup



Deepend was one of the big names dropped across many a media lunch table

this year, and with good reason.



The UK-based agency kicked off the year by separating into a number of

outfits to create a network of service providers rather than the digital

'supermarket' - or end-to-end digital solutions - that a lot of other

agencies were claiming. This saw the creation of the strategic

consultancy Airtight, the systems integrator Backend, the online

advertising agency Gluemedia and Relish, a PR division.



Deepend has built itself a cool and stylish reputation for design and

creativity with its work this year on award-winning sites such as the

Design Museum and Viaduct. Accounts to join the Deepend fold during 2000

included E4, Nokia and Panasonic.



The agency went from strength to strength last year. The UK branch

doubled in size and offices were opened in New York, San Francisco,

Sydney and Toronto. Deepend responded to the growing demand for

interactive TV solutions by launching Sleeper as a joint venture with

the commercials production company, Blink. Sleeper's focus is to develop

interactive TV advertising solutions.



Deepend also took full control of the interactive creative shop

Gluemedia, which was previously part owned by media21.



The question for the coming year is: can Deepend keep up the good

work?



SCORE: 8



DIGIT



PRINCIPAL DALJIT SINGH

Declared billings 2m

Declared income 2000 2m

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2000 33



Company type: Private company



Digit has grown from just 11 to 33 people. The agency, which started

life in a Nottingham kitchen, did more business in the first quarter of

2000 than it did during the whole of 1999. In the past year it has taken

people on from six different countries and become more global in its

approach.



Digit has a reputation for being an ideas company and provides services

ranging from new-media branding through to overall e-commerce

solutions.



Recent projects included 007.com, the redesign of the Open website, TBWA

GGT's site and a project for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.



The creative highlight of the agency's year, however, was winning an

interactive Bafta for the site it produced for MTV's MTV2, which was

designed to complement the TV channel. Very few sites can be called

stunning and a joy to use, but MTV2's was both these things - cool,

streamlined and beautifully designed. It swaggered in as Campaign's

website of the year in its Book of Lists 2000.



As with every agency, Digit was hit by the slowdown in the digital

market as a whole, but fell back on the fact that a lot of its clients

are bricks-and-mortar companies. As the market stabilises in 2001 we can

expect the agency to continue building on its creative strengths. A

Berlin office is planned for later this year - Digit's first branch

outside the UK.



SCORE: 7



GOOD TECHNOLOGY



PRINCIPAL RICHARD DAVIES

Declared billings 3m

Declared income 2000 3m

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2000 53



Company type: Tempus subsidiary



Launched in 1994, Good Technology is somehow lesser known than some of

its contemporaries mainly because it follows a policy of allowing its

work to speak for itself. And it has won a host of digital creative

awards.



Good Technology won some high-profile accounts in the last year,

including Sony PlayStation, Selfridges, Timotei, the Sci-Fi Channel and

the Levi Strauss European account, which was wrestled from the grasp of

Lateral, despite that agency's award-winning work for the brand over the

past few years.



Good Technology developed the site for iCrunch, the online music site,

and this won creative accolades from, among others, judges at the first

UK Online Music Awards.



In addition, Good Technology opened its Barcelona office last year, and

the agency has double the number of staff it had at the beginning of

2000.



The agency's major shortcoming is its relative lack of profile within

the industry, but this is due to its sense of modesty rather than a

shortage of achievements. Its creative standards are as highly respected

as better known players such as Deepend and AKQA, and 2001 has to be the

year when its profile catches up with its reputation.



SCORE: 8



GREY INTERACTIVE



PRINCIPAL BRIAN LEE

Declared billings 5m

Declared income 2000 5m

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2000 120



Company type: Grey subsidiary



2000 was an important year for Grey's digital agency, which

fundamentally restructured its business model.



Grey Interactive had been working on the media planning side of the

business as well as producing more creatively focused solutions

However, by the end of the year, Grey decided to give all of its

new-media planning and buying business over to Media.com, the digital

division of Grey's sister media agency MediaCom TMB.



At the same time, the agency restructured internally into

industry-focused teams in an attempt to improve its client service and

increase its efficiency.



The restructure was somewhat ambiguous as it suggested Grey Interactive

recognised that it was not functioning at its full potential, but at the

same time such recognition was a positive thing in an industry where

many agencies essentially provide very similar services.



Its creative offering was a bit wobbly. More maligned than praised in

the press was the Pantene interactive TV ad that Grey Interactive put

together for Procter & Gamble through its dedicated interactive TV

division.



But in the interactive TV field, where every man and his dog is some

sort of new-media Nostradamus, doing is much more effective than

talking. The agency is still, however, without a creative director and

in 2001 it should address the creativity gap.



SCORE: 5



I-LEVEL



PRINCIPAL CHARLIE DOBRES

Declared billings 20m

Declared income 2000 n/s

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2000 34



Company type: Private company



There's no doubt that 2000 was a fantastic year for i-Level. The agency

added Campaign's first New-Media Agency of the Year award to its other

accolades, which included an IPA Effectiveness Award for its EasyJet

advertising.



A baby to the traditional advertising world but a veritable veteran of

new media, the 18-month-old agency grew from four to 32 staff during the

year 2000, had a declared billings figure of nearly £20 million

and added John Bartle to its board as a non-executive director.



Perhaps the most exciting development for the agency during 2000 was the

opening of its first foreign office, which scotched the multitude of

takeover rumours doing the rounds at the time.



I-Level Benelux opened at the end of 2000 and three other European

branches are planned for the coming year.



The agency made it on to the new-media agency roster for COI

Communications and finished off the year on a high note by netting the

BT online media account, worth an estimated £4 million.



I-level has maintained successful relationships with a number of large

advertising agencies, and is also the official online media agency for

Western International Media and John Ayling & Associates.



However, the merger of Western with Interpublic's other media agency,

Initiative, is likely to upset this arrangement, since it seems likely

that Initiative's digital branch will pick up the baton from i-Level.

2001 will see if this affects the company's performance.



SCORE: 9



LATERAL



PRINCIPAL JON BAINS

Declared billings 2m

Declared income 2000 2m

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2000 28



Company type: Private company



Perceived as one of the coolest of the cool, Lateral had a pretty

eventful year.



The agency produced some highly regarded work for its Levi's client -

for example, its 404 Error campaign for the new Twisted Seam brand - but

it also suffered the loss of the Levi's European account to Good

Technology. Speculation suggested that the client wanted to move away

from the creative direction in which Lateral was going, which it thought

too 'quirky'.



The loss was countered by two things. First was the win of a different

Levi's assignment - that for the US Levi's Silver Tab 'lost but not

lost' project.



The second, and perhaps more fundamental development, was that Lateral

began turning into a network, beginning with a partnership with the

technical agency LShift, in which Lateral took a 20 per cent stake. The

idea behind the network is to develop an array of specialist services

encompassing all of the different digital cultures.



The network is set to expand over the next 12 months and there is no

doubt that Lateral has a solid enough offering to take it on to the next

stage.



The small size of the agency has prevented it from taking a hammering in

the dotcom slump. That and the fact that a substantial chunk of its work

is from the offline world.



SCORE: 7



MODEM MEDIA



PRINCIPAL TIM SEXTON

Declared billings n/s

Declared income 2000 15m

(Campaign estimate)

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2000 150



Company type: True North subsidiary



This has been a very good year in unusual market conditions for Modem

Media, which doubled its UK staff over the past 12 months. The agency,

which has a worldwide staff of more than 950 including 130 in the UK,

was one of the original breeding grounds for some of the UK's top

new-media creative talent and last year made some major inroads in the

interactive television sector.



Like WAP, interactive TV was another buzz-word, and solutions were being

promised by most of the new-media agencies throughout 2000. Despite

this, only a handful of agencies produced any actual work, one of which

was Modem. Modem won a European E-Business Award and a Marketing

Connections Award for its interactive TV advertising for Persil. 'The

Truly Sensitive Show' was an ad based on an interactive game show that

encouraged consumers to interact with the Unilever brand.



Big account wins for the UK agency last year included Philips, Weight

Watchers, Avon and General Motors. Modem is planning to build on its

European presence this year - which already consists of offices in

France and Germany - with plans for the launch of operations in

Scandinavia, Italy and Spain.



SCORE: 8



PROFERO



PRINCIPAL DARYL ARNOLD

Declared billings 11m

Declared income 2000 3m

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2000 68



Company type: Private company



Profero is a fresh-faced, independent new-media advertising agency which

was established in the UK in March 1998. It currently boasts a client

portfolio which includes Carlton Online, BSkyB and Ladbrokes.



The agency dedicates about half of its resources to online media

management, with the rest of its business focusing on creative solutions

and strategy.



Although still an independent, in January 2000 Profero announced a

strategic alliance with the media planning and buying agency Walker

Media. Its founders are fiercely independent and adamant that Profero

will resist any takeover bids or acquisitions during the coming

months.



Another major landmark of 2000 for the agency was its expansion outside

the UK. Profero Iberia launched in Spain, and the agency is planning to

use the new office as a gateway to the South American market. It will be

headed by Frank Martinez, formerly the head of interactive at Carat

Spain, and his brother Eddie Martinez - previously the international

head of interactive at Universal McCann.



Profero had to resign Sportal following a conflict with the Disney

sports brand ESPN.com when the agency took on Disney in the latter half

of last year, but it made up for the loss by winning CNN.com and the

online music brand Worldpop.com.



2001 should see further expansion and the continued bolstering of its

creative offering.



SCORE: 7



RAZORFISH



PRINCIPAL COLIN BARLOW

Declared billings 17m

Declared income 2000 20m

% of new-media work 100

Staff 2000 150



Company type: Omnicom subsidiary



With offices in more than 15 countries, Razorfish was on the lips of

name-droppers last year and has a very high-profile brand.



But 2000 was a rollercoaster ride for this US-based agency, which lost

its president, Michael Prehl, in August. Though he has been replaced by

Jean-Philippe Maheu, Razorfish was also forced to issue profit warnings

during the year and, in October, laid off 10 per cent of its global

staff.



Despite this, the company reported increased revenues in November - for

the three months to September, worldwide revenues climbed by 72 per

cent.



At the beginning of the year, Razorfish UK merged with Conduit

Communications - a digital strategic company.



In the UK, Razorfish relaunched FT.com, launched the Oddbins.com site

and the new online identity for Ford. It also won the T-Motion task -

T-Motion is the mobile phone solutions provider owned by Deutsch

Telecom.



Razorfish has offered multi-platform solutions for the past two years,

which include WAP, interactive TV and broadband and it stepped up its

broadband efforts with some high-profile appointments in the latter half

of the year.



But the UK agency has had an unimpressive year in 2000, which does not

live up to its high-profile reputation. It needs to steady itself in

2001 and prove that it is less mouth and more trouser.



SCORE: 4



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.



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