School Reports 2012: Karmarama

Last year was a watershed 12 months for Karmarama. It was the year the independent agency began a major growth spurt and opened up its offering to new opportunities and international expansion.

Recent Karmarama work - Bombardier
Recent Karmarama work - Bombardier

Score: 7

Agency fact file: Karmarama
Type of agency Advertising
Company ownership Independent
Key personnel Nicola Mendelsohn executive chairman
  Ben Bilboul chief executive officer
  Dave Buonaguidi chief creative officer
  Sid McGrath chief strategy officer
Nielsen billings 2011 £73m
Nielsen billings 2010 £71m
Declared income £12m
Total accounts at year end 20
Accounts won 7 (biggest: BBC)
Accounts lost 1 (Lastminute.com – resigned)
Number of staff 70 (+11%)

Karmarama secured a significant tranche of funding from Phoenix Equity Partners to finance an acquisition spree. The deal was not only good news for the agency, but showed renewed confidence in the industry at large.

The deal allows Karmarama and its group of agencies, including the PR offshoot Kaper and the production arm Kream, to invest in direct, data and technology companies. The new parent company, Karma Communications, has since bought The Crayon Group.

Karmarama also boosted its digital offering by going into partnership with a collective of digital experts who now sit within the agency and work with the existing digital team.

It was also a successful year for new business, with Karmarama snapping up a much-coveted place on the BBC creative roster. The shop's wins also included eHarmony's £8 million account, Pilgrim's Choice, the Wells & Young's advertising business, Gaymers, Onken and the digital business for Betfair. The agency only lost one client: Lastminute.com.

Notable work included a well-crafted spot for Lastminute.com and a new campaign for Bombardier beer starring Rik Mayall, but it was hardly a vintage year creatively. Its portfolio of demanding new clients, in particular the BBC, should help move the work on.

The agency's profile was raised by its chairman, Nicola Mendelsohn, taking on the role of president of the IPA and, with its expansion plans, Karmarama is set to continue to grow in clout in 2012.

Score last year: 7

How Karmarama rates itself: 7

"Another good-karma year winning seven accounts, expanding our services and creating our most innovative work including digital firsts for Betfair, La Senza and Bombardier. We were the highest-rated agency in The Sunday Times Best Companies list, Kaper won best new PR consultancy and we secured investment for ambitious growth plans. It's been hard work, but it's paid off. With brilliant clients, superb people and great opportunities, 2012 will be our most exciting year yet."

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