MEDIA AGENCY OF THE YEAR: MICHAELIDES & BEDNASH - With its unique position as a media planning consultancy, M&B attracted significant new business from blue-chip clients and proved the critics wrong

Choosing a Media Agency of the Year was no easy task in 1997. That usual barometer of success - new business - provided scant help in a year when fewer accounts than ever were on the move. At the same time, finding an agency that stood out from the pack as dynamic, agenda-setting, innovative and creative proved about as easy as finding a hair on Graham Duff’s head.

Choosing a Media Agency of the Year was no easy task in 1997. That

usual barometer of success - new business - provided scant help in a

year when fewer accounts than ever were on the move. At the same time,

finding an agency that stood out from the pack as dynamic,

agenda-setting, innovative and creative proved about as easy as finding

a hair on Graham Duff’s head.



In the event, one outfit did shine through with a year that exceeded all

expectations: Michaelides & Bednash.



It’s not easy to compare M&B, a strategic media planning consultancy,

with rounded media planning and buying operations which are themselves

subject to a whole host of pressures and expectations which M&B is

not.



But as a media company in the broad sense of the term, M&B towered over

allcomers with the sort of performance that other companies could only

dream of.



M&B this year scooped media planning business from clients spending

pounds 80 million - which puts them second in Campaign’s Media Business

League Table in terms of buying billings. In fact, its list of clients

grew 90 per cent from six to 11. Its ’billings’ broke through the pounds

100 million barrier to top pounds 115 million, and the company’s staff

numbers grew accordingly, up 60 per cent.



And if transposing billings figures onto an agency that does not

actually handle any media buying makes you feel uncomfortable, then

M&B’s income performance speaks for itself. Over the past 12 months, its

income has grown by 32 per cent, a figure which indicates, perhaps more

than any other, the fact that the strategic media marketplace is alive

and kicking as a separate business.



And, with margins in conventional media agencies ever tighter, more and

more media operations are claiming the strategic planning territory as a

way of adding value and, more importantly, adding fee income. It’s fair

to say that the existence of M&B has helped to set the agenda in this

field, and the agency’s coup in snaffling First Direct’s media planning

out of that doyen of creative media thinking, New PHD, sealed its

reputation.



Other wins for M&B included Britvic’s centralised media planning, on the

back of the agency’s work for Britvic’s Tango brand, media planning on

the pounds 50 million Cable & Wireless account, the pounds 10 million

Pearl Assurance business and the BBC’s online service, Beeb.com.



At the same time, M&B worked alongside TMD Carat and Mother on the

launch campaign for Channel 5, one of the highest profile campaigns of

the year and one which was characterised by a number of smart and

innovative media ideas, such as the fifth column ads on the TV listings

pages in the weeks leading up to the channel’s debut.



In short, 1997 was the year that M&B proved that there was a market for

strategic media companies (something underlined by the launch of Unity

in June), proved that there are plenty of major blue-chip clients hungry

for strategic media planning expertise and happy to pay for it, and,

perhaps most satisfying, proved the critics wrong.



Of the traditional media agencies, MediaVest ran M&B a very close second

in the voting for Media Agency of the Year. MediaVest began the year as

the Media Centre, an established and highly regarded brand, and became

an industry laughing stock when MediaVest was introduced in the summer

as the global brand for DMB&B’s sister media operation.



However, the agency made a positive out of a negative, rode the

underwear jokes and capitalised on the publicity with one of the most

amusing trade press campaigns of recent memory. There was, however, much

more to the agency’s year than a change in identity. Media-Vest emerged

triumphant in the Central Office of Information’s media overhaul,

picking up the two most prestigious accounts - the TV and press planning

and buying businesses, together worth almost pounds 50 million.



The agency also won the battle for Associated Newspapers’ pounds 15

million centralised media, seeing off stiff competition from a raft of

incumbents.



The loss of the pounds 20 million Royal Mail business at the end of the

year was the one significant blight on an otherwise stirling

performance.



From the ranks of the rest of the media industry, several agencies

earned themselves a special mention. Initiative Media, for so long the

moribund giant dominated by Unilever, was responsible for the biggest

upset of the year, snatching the pounds 90 million Peugeot-Citroen media

business from the long-standing incumbent, Mediapolis.



The significance of the win cannot be underestimated; at a stroke it

killed off the one-client tag which had dogged the agency for so long

and gave a stamp of approval to its strategic credentials.



But the departure of two media directors, followed by the shock

resignation of its chief executive, Phil Georgiadis, in November, were

tangible knock-backs and the agency will have to move quickly next year

if it is to maintain its momentum.



Plaudits also go to TMD Carat - another strong year, with pounds 36

million in new business and a restructuring which strengthened and

broadened the agency’s skills base. Manning Gottlieb Media did a deal

with Omnicom, which underlined the financial and professional success of

the team (and also netted them a tidy sum), while its new sister agency,

BMP Optimum, made a successful debut out of BMP DDB’s media department -

and went on to add pounds 45 million of new business.



Universal McCann also turned in a strong new-business performance, even

after the departure of its managing director, Trista Grant, and began to

emerge as a serious media brand.



Last year’s winner: TMD Carat.



Topics

Become a member of Campaign from just £45 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Why creative people have lost their way

What better way to kick off the inaugural issue of Campaign's monthly print offering than with another think piece on the current failings of our industry, written by an embittered, pretentious creative who misses "the way things used to be"...

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).