School Reports 2012: Rapier

Last year was always going to be a crucial one for Rapier, having restructured its management team in 2010 and lost two of its biggest accounts: Lloyds TSB and Virgin Media.

Recent Yell work
Recent Yell work

Score: 6

Agency factfile: Rapier
Type of agency Integrated
Company ownership Independent
Key personnel Jonathan Stead chief executive
  Ed Morris creative partner
  John Shaw strategy and planning partner
  Sue Payne chief operating officer
Nielsen billings 2011 £11m
Nielsen billings 2010 £16m
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 12
Accounts won 5 (biggest: RAC)
Accounts lost 0
Number of staff 96 (no change)

While the agency has always been considered a direct marketing specialist since its creation, in 2011 it worked hard to reposition itself in a bid to be taken seriously as an integrated advertising agency.

It wasn't long before the hard work began to pay off, with Rapier competing and winning business against big traditional ad agencies. Its first major coup came midway through the year when RAC moved its ad account out of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO into Rapier without a pitch. A month earlier, the agency had also won the brand's digital and direct marketing account, making RAC the agency's biggest win in 2011.

New business was a priority, led tirelessly by the chief executive, Jonathan Stead, and the agency went on to win business including the BBC.

Rapier cemented itself as a serious agency capable of producing big above-the-line campaigns when it won Travelodge's £6 million ad account from Mother after a pitch. The win strengthened the agency's existing relationship with Travelodge, which became Rapier's second-biggest client behind Yell.

As Rapier's biggest account, much was riding on the launch of Yell's campaign at the beginning of last year. It was also the first piece of work by the executive creative director Ed Morris since joining the shop.

The ad was a remake of Yell's classic 80s "fly fishing" TV ad, which replaced the author searching for his book using a Yellow Pages with a DJ trying to track down a long-lost trance mix using Yell's iPhone app. The brand is now holding an international pitch and Rapier is contesting for the account.

This year should be a good one for the agency if it keeps up the momentum of new business and produces the great work that it's more than capable of creating.

Score last year: 3

How Rapier rates itself: 7

"Rapier feels reinvigorated. We began 2011 by creating the popular Day V Lately ad for Yell and ended it at number seven in the new-business rankings on the back of our RAC and Travelodge wins. In between, we hired some great people, retained all of our clients, and picked up critical projects."

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