MediaCom has been crowned Media Agency of the Year for the second successive year on the back of reinvention, outstanding work and strong new business.
WPP’s biggest media shop has made structural and operational changes in 2014 to keep up with the marketplace. It now challenges traditional definitions of a media agency, preferring to position itself as a "content and connections agency".
At a network level, the agency has launched 20|20 Connections – a planning process designed to address the changes mobile and social are having on the advertising business. The initiative is credited with having had a notable impact on connecting campaigns in the UK, signalling a comprehensive move away from channel silos.
Content has been at the heart of much of the agency’s award-winning campaigns this year – from Audi’s content marketing partnership with The Telegraph to the use of vloggers with Cancer Research UK’s Dryathlon and Volkswagen’s BuzzFeed campaign. The tools MediaCom has developed have gained recognition too. Its Second Screen Planner was shortlisted at the Media Week Awards for its ability to fuse social and TV data for more connected TV plans.
The strength and depth of MediaCom’s work was recognised across awards ceremonies this year. At the Campaign Media Awards, MediaCom won in the Public Sector and Charity category for the Home Office; in Grocery, Soft Drinks and Household for Lucozade; and in Transport for Volkswagen. And that was on top of three golds, two silvers and four bronzes at the Media Week Awards, two PPA Advertising Awards and a silver at the IPA Effectiveness Awards.
Elsewhere, the agency’s high-profile campaign to tackle abuse against women for the Home Office tapped into the characters and storyline of the Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks to ensure maximum impact.
Work for the record label Decca, in partnership with Weve, helped develop opportunities for geo-targeted mobile ads and formed the bedrock of a new approach to mobile campaigns.
In line with wider changes within the business, 2014 has seen the agency forge closer partnerships with media owners. Initiatives included a microsite for Sony mobile phones in partnership with ShortList, Universal Music’s groundbreaking live ad for Sam Smith in partnership with Channel 4 and Google, and Lucozade’s tie-in with MTV that attracted more than seven million Tweets.
Events is another area where MediaCom has forged new collaborations this year, including one with ITV about building better connections, featuring the celebrity guests Joey Essex and Ashley Roberts.
Meanwhile, deeper integrated relationships with creative agencies such as Tribal DDB helped turn the Volkswagen Golf GTI into a musical instrument, while a project with Grey helped bring the conditions of a hot and humid Brazil to the UK for Lucozade during the World Cup.
Some may be surprised to learn that MediaCom has won £119 million of new business this year – much of it being generated from its four offices outside the capital. The larger accounts included eBay, Innocent, Moonpig.com, The Open University and Ryanair. This growth comes despite less business being up for grabs this year. In addition, the blinds retailer Hillarys, which left the agency in 2011, returned to the fold.
Driving MediaCom’s success has been its people, starting with its much-admired leadership team. The chief executive, Karen Blackett, is now nothing short of a national role model, having received an OBE in the summer. She was also named Britain’s most powerful black person in the Powerlist 100 this autumn. Together with the chairman, Jane Ratcliffe, the managing director, Claudine Collins, the chief operating officer, Josh Krichefski, and the chief strategy officer, Sue Unerman, all bases are covered.
In terms of new blood, the agency added to its digital expertise in 2014 by recruiting Graham Field as its head of programmatic and Dan Chapman as its managing partner and head of digital. Outside London, Peter Borgen-Nielsen became the head of digital in Edinburgh, and Karyn Fleeting the head of organic content in Manchester.
MediaCom’s own apprenticeship scheme, led by Blackett, has also brought a wave of new graduates into the business, including 35 across the north.
It is never the easy option to reward the previous year’s winners – or the biggest shop in town – but MediaCom exemplifies today’s modern media agency and continues to lead from the front.
Recent winners: MediaCom (2013); Goodstuff Communications (2012); PHD (2011); PHD (2010); MEC (2009)