School Reports 2015: FCB Inferno

BMW
BMW

Score: 8  Last year: n/a

Having gone under starters orders with rather unpromising odds on it at the beginning of last year, FCB Inferno’s subsequent performance must have left its Interpublic parent feeling like a relieved punter whose long shot is romping home.

Sixth in Campaign’s new-business rankings for 2014 thanks largely to its success at prising BMW’s UK creative business from WCRS after 35 years, and the winner of three out of four government pitches, FCB Inferno can make a compelling case for being greater than the sum of its parts.

Not bad for a merged operation that had looked more like the manifestation of the desperation felt at IPG about the underwhelming performance of DraftFCB.

IPG’s third network seemed to have a personality problem, bearing little relation to the integrated outfit Draft or the once mighty FCB that merged to form it. What’s more, Inferno appeared to be neither an easy cultural fit nor a potential cash cow.

A year on, FCB Inferno can justifiably claim that the integration of both its merged entities and its offering has exceeded expectations. Indeed, it was BMW’s eagerness to appoint a single agency capable of servicing its entire UK business that was said to have been a key factor in the agency getting the nod after a five-way pitch.

Creatively, the agency has set out a stall that is anything but ho-hum. Its first TV commercial for BMW, in which a caveman chases a herd of horses and ends up riding one, is an audacious bid to change the self-image of BMW drivers. Meanwhile, the "#IOU" spot for Grant’s whisky grabs attention, presenting what is a short film rather than a product-led communication to get millennials to take a second look.

The agency isn’t at the winning post yet, but it has certainly hit the turf running.

How the agency scores itself: 8

How the agency rates itself: 2014 has been a momentous year – we successfully integrated both agencies and exceeded expectations in terms of new wins and creative output. We’ve hired great talent. We’ve maintained a top-six position in the new-business ranking, continuing our winning streak for the government roster and by welcoming BMW. There has been much effective work including a Christmas ad for Post Office, our first TV ad for BMW and global brand work for Nivea and Grant’s.

FCB Inferno
Type of agency Advertising
Company ownership Interpublic
Nielsen billings 2014 £69m
Nielsen billings 2013 £52m
Declared income £19m
Total accounts at year end 26
Accounts won 5 (biggest: BMW)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: Hyundai – resigned)
Number of staff 188 (+66%)
Key personnel Frazer Gibney chief executive
Tim Doust founding partner
Al Young chief creative partner
Simon White chief strategy officer
Sharon Jiggins managing director

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.

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