School Reports 2012: Archibald Ingall Stretton

Last year was among the most seismic in Archibald Ingall Stretton's 13-year history.

Recent work for Coppa Feel!
Recent work for Coppa Feel!

Score: 3

Agency fact file: Archibald Ingall Stretton
Type of agency Creative
Company ownership Havas Media
Key personnel Steve Stretton founding partner
  Geoff Gower creative director
  Sarah Stratford strategy director
  Stephen Watford commercial director
Declared income £10m
Total accounts at year end 19
Accounts won 9 (biggest: Sony BMG)
Accounts lost 1 (O2)
Number of staff 101 (-8%)

Its founding partners Jon Ingall and Stuart Archibald left the business (although Archibald had been working on its overseas expansion for the previous three years) and the agency lost its largest account, the O2 consumer direct marketing business, to Lida after a pitch process.

AIS has a track record of clawing back a winning position from the jaws of defeat, but now it must do so with a new UK management line-up. Steve Stretton, the remaining founder, instigated a restructure in June last year that saw a new triumvirate take charge. Geoff Gower, Sarah Stratford and Stephen Watford were promoted to creative director, strategy director and commercial director respectively.

However, just a month later, O2 took the decision to review and then, in December, moved the account to Lida. AIS was also told in November that it must defend its second-largest account, the EDF Energy business, in an ongoing review process.

Along the way, there were crumbs of good news. The agency landed several accounts, the largest being Sony BMG, and created the eye-catching campaign for the breast cancer charity CoppaFeel!. AIS also bolstered its creative department with the appointment of Momentum's Richard Coggin as a creative director.

AIS's new leadership team will have its work cut out in trying to match the reputation for high-quality work - and hi-jinks - of its founders, but their appointments show that AIS is an agency with a hopeful eye on the future.

It seems too soon to write the agency off. But while Havas, which increased its stake by 10 per cent to 93 per cent, seems committed to making it a key part of its UK line-up, AIS should look to win big to fill the hole left by O2 while justifying its creative reputation with bold, memorable work.

Score last year: 7

How Archibald Ingall Stretton rates itself: 4.5

"All change. That was 2011. In came our youthful new management team. Out went O2 after eight successful years. Richard Coggin joined as creative director. We invested in our graduate programme. And picked up several new projects. Finishing on a creative high with EDF Energy's 'thank yous', O2 Academy TV, CoppaFeel! 'hello boobs' and One Direction's album launch for Sony BMG. Plus 29 awards, including a Cannes Media Lion, a Eurobest and five John Caples."

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