School Reports 2011: Carat

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Recent Carat work: British Gas
Recent Carat work: British Gas

Carat was hit hard at the start of 2010 when COI consolidated its media into Group M's M4C, resulting in the loss of the £54 million TV buying account. However, this bad news was perhaps tempered by the subsequent collapse in COI spending. Carat's only other loss was the £5 million ESPN buying account, which was consolidated into its planning agency Arena Media.

Score: 7

Agency fact file: Carat
Type of agency Media
Company ownership Aegis
Key personnel Tracy De Groose managing director
  Richard Morris deputy managing director
  Robert Horler chief operating officer, Aegis Media UK
  Nigel Sharrocks chairman, Aegis Media UK
The Nielsen Company billings 2010 £656m
The Nielsen Company billings 2009 £663m
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 156
Accounts won 13 (biggest: Disneyland Resort Paris/Travelodge)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: COI TV buying)
TV 50%
Press 22%
Outdoor 6%
Radio 3%
Search 6%
Other 13%
Number of staff 311 (-3%)

The agency kept its £33 million British Gas offline account, Alberto Culver, Shop Direct Group (both £15 million) and Arla Foods (£30 million). Its best two account wins proved to be the consolidated Disneyland Resort Paris business and Travelodge, both £10 million. Not a vintage Carat new-business performance but the retentions were impressive.

Meanwhile, in September, Carat appointed the former Naked managing director Tracy De Groose as its managing director. She replaced Robert Horler, who became the chief operating officer at Aegis Media UK and was joined by Steve Hobbs as the director of media operations for Aegis Media. Nigel Sharrocks, the chief executive of Aegis Media Western Europe, took on global responsibility for Carat, Vizeum and Posterscope as well as becoming the chairman of Aegis Media UK.

On the strategic front, Carat's planning product was recognised when it won Campaign of the Year at the Campaign Media Awards for British Gas. Richard Morris, the agency's planning chief (promoted to deputy managing director in early 2011), is building an excellent reputation. The agency is set to unveil a new positioning and its move to a new office near Regent's Park should ensure greater collaboration with sister agencies.

Score last year: 6

How Carat rates itself: 7

"Carat emerged from the recession in great shape and put the foundations in place for a new era in its history. In repitches, we significantly extended our relationships with four major clients. We won more than £45 million of new business and diversified income increased to 41 per cent. Our planning continued to shine: we won 19 awards - including Campaign's Media Network of the Year and Campaign of the Year for our British Gas British Swimming work."

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