Feature

Customer Engagement Agency of the Year 2013: Lida

Having been pushed to second place for the past two years, Lida has landed the top spot, thanks to the triumvirate of impressive creative work, major new-business wins and a balanced team.

  • Virgin Holidays

    Virgin Holidays

  • (Left to right) Fox, Heath, Whitcombe, Bullard

    (Left to right) Fox, Heath, Whitcombe, Bullard

  • Ikea

    Ikea

  • Tourettes Action

    Tourettes Action

  • The Mill

    The Mill

  • National Trust

    National Trust

  • O2

    O2

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After two years of coming a close second for the mantle of Campaign’s Direct Agency of the Year, M&C Saatchi’s Lida stepped everything up a gear in 2013. There were new-business wins from brands such as Comparethemarket.com and Land Rover, as well as continued brilliant creative work for existing clients such as Ikea. The agency was repeatedly mentioned as the leading force in its parent company’s financial reports, and a renewed management team brought clarity to Lida’s proposition.

Although Lida had enjoyed a strong 2012, there were a couple of question marks. The agency was hit by the loss of its chief executive, Mel Cruickshank, while the long-standing Mini account drove off with its rival Iris. In these pages, Campaign challenged Lida to combine the great creative it had delivered in 2012 with the new-business success it achieved in 2011 and a stable management team. In 2013, Lida showed it could bring together all three. So it would not always be the bridesmaid, after all.

The arrival of Victoria Fox as the shop’s managing director in January and Louise Whitcombe as the chief operating officer in June strengthened Lida’s management firepower. They joined the consistently strong chairman and chief strategy officer, Matthew Heath, and the inspiring executive creative director, Nicky Bullard. Lida set up a new executive board to support the management team and inspire the wider teams, as well as a "mirror board" to engage junior staff in the way the agency is run.

Lida replaced the Mini account with the UK CRM business for Land Rover. If that win was particularly sweet – given that Lida beat OgilvyOne, which had picked up Land Rover’s global CRM just last year – it was far from the only success. Indeed, Lida was busy bringing in new clients from the off: it won the Royal Bank of Scotland private banking account in January. Since then, the agency has transformed how RBS communicates with its wealthy customers and is planning a new advice service.

Next up was Tesco Mobile, which hired Lida to improve its customer journeys and overhaul its welcome programme in February. A month later, the investment fund Invesco turned to the shop ahead of a new brand launch; Lida now works across Invesco’s portfolio. Its long-time loyalty client Boots then appointed M&C Saatchi Group to its digital creative account in August. For Boots, Lida is now in charge of social, mobile and digital strategy across its main brand, as well as No7 and Boots Opticians.

After winning a place on the Government’s digital and direct roster, Lida landed the first brief – an assignment from the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills to promote British businesses and engage small and medium-sized enterprises in government-funding initiatives. In September, Lida snared the CRM account for Comparethemarket.com from Havas EHS. Then, as November came to a close, Lida started working with Camelot to help it find better ways to communicate with people who play its games.

In 2013, Lida also developed impressively creative work that delivered real results for clients. It helped raise £1.4 million to develop Quarry Bank Mill, the National Trust property, by linking it to The Mill, the Channel 4 series it featured in. The agency also engaged people in the issues surrounding Tourette syndrome in an e-mail campaign for Tourettes Action. Lida also expanded VCCP’s "be more dog" activity for O2 (our 2013 Campaign of the Year) online, with more than 150,000 customers logging on to ask a question for a dog or cat response.

Lida picked up four gold DMAs – two for Ikea and two for Virgin Holidays. Work for Ikea during the year included personalised weather forecasts and barbecue invitations that could be e-mailed to friends. They helped Ikea’s sales of outdoor-living products increase by 34 per cent. Meanwhile, the through-the-line "unleash your mojo" campaign picked up the gongs for Virgin Holidays. Lida’s work included a Tweet-activated online "mojovator" that reached 1.5 million people and, crucially, helped boost online sales by 25 per cent.

In among the bake sales, charity walks and Thursday night drinking sessions, Lida is expected to deliver a whopping 40 per cent revenue growth on 2012 figures and a profit margin of 18 per cent. This year, Campaign changed the name of this award to Customer Engagement Agency of the Year to better reflect what direct and digital agencies do in 2013. After engaging its staff, its clients, their customers and its bottom line, the title fits Lida perfectly.

Recent winners: OgilvyOne (2012); OgilvyOne (2011); OgilvyOne (2010); Partners Andrews Aldridge (2009); Elvis (2008)

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