School Reports 2013: UM London

Royal Mail
Royal Mail

Score: 7  Last year: 6

Bargain Booze was one of UM’s many new-business wins in 2012, but its success on the pitch trail didn’t go to the agency’s head. It remained focused throughout the year on creating strong work for clients and on growing relationships through its "curiosity works" positioning.

The reward for this came in March 2013 when the chief executive, Andy Jones, was promoted to a broader IPG Mediabrands role, with the chief strategy officer, Russell Place, moving up to managing director.

UM’s activity impressed during 2012. The agency won at the Campaign Media Awards for its Statoil work and campaigns for H&M also stood out. Credit should go to a strong strategy and planning team, led by the talented Place and Sally Weavers.

On the new-business front, UM did not disappoint. Its 25 wins included new advertisers and brands that aren’t exactly household names, but, on occasion, it competed with the best in the market and won business including Royal Mail, Wellness Foods and Hotels.com.

On the downside, UM lost the Goodyear and Totaljobs.com accounts and opted not to repitch for Burberry when the client called a global pitch.

UM seems to be evolving its offering and must be given credit for the relatively high proportion of its billings from digital/search – a surprising statistic for those who continue to pigeonhole the agency as a broadcast buying shed.

It also put great store in growing relationships, and Microsoft, Dairy Crest and ExxonMobil all responded by adding to UM’s workload.

The year ahead could see greater co-operation between UM and its sister agencies as Interpublic looks to push the Mediabrands proposition in the UK. This should help UM to grow, so long as it sticks to its formula of strong work, tireless new-business activity and investment in client satisfaction.

UM London
Type of agency Media
Company ownership Interpublic
Key personnel Andy Jones chief executive, IPG Mediabrands UK and Ireland
Russell Place managing director
Richard Oliver managing partner, investment
Yvonne O’Brien managing partner, research, insight and analytics
Sally Weavers managing partner, comms planning
Nielsen billings 2012 £189m
Nielsen billings 2011 £178m
Declared income n/s*
Total accounts at year end 131
Accounts won 25 (biggest: Royal Mail)
Accounts lost 3 (biggest: Totaljobs.com)
TV 34%
Press 10%
Outdoor 6%
Radio 5%
Digital/search 36%
Other 9%
Number of staff 137 (+5%)

Score key: 9 Outstanding 8 Excellent 7 Good 6 Satisfactory 5 Adequate 4 Below average 3 Poor 2 A year to forget 1 Survival in question

Footnote: *indicates where agencies claim the corporate governance constraints of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation.

How UM London rates itself: 8

"2012 was a sterling year for UM London – a company re-brand, a new pay-for-performance business model, our best Awards performance to date and new clients including Royal Mail, Wellness Foods, FSCS and TRIA Beauty. 'Curiosity Works' is integral to all our campaigns and thought-leadership projects. We’ve always been known for our media curiosity; our focus now is on proving it works. The business results we’ve delivered for our clients are evidence of that."

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