School Reports 2015: Isobar

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Score: 5  Last year: 5

2014 was the year that Isobar stopped a period of flux and started to rebuild. While it is too early to truly celebrate a strong, confident agency with a clear identity, a solid body of work does provide its leaders with reason for optimism.

The agency’s 133 staff currently service just 15 accounts, including Kellogg, Auto Trader and Google. It claims to have won five new pieces of business, but it is indicative of a complex group positioning that Isobar has asked Campaign not to name three of them.

This leaves wins for the Chinese telecoms company Huawei and its mobile brand Honor. Interesting, but far from earth-shattering.

Isobar is hoping to build a proactive, collaborative culture and put the disruptive Glue transition years firmly behind it. Key arrivals include Jon Boardman as the managing director in May 2014 from VCCP. Isobar also bolstered its planning department with four new strategy directors.

The global chief executive, Jean Lin, was appointed in March. She is said to be a key driving force and keen on positioning the network as "pirates", operating as one global, borderless agency. Isobar believes it can leverage the strong media and performance resources within Dentsu Aegis Network to allow single client briefing across all disciplines. Google is cited as a client that sees the benefit of this model, selecting Isobar UK as the key hub to deliver digital work across Europe.

Among the highs of 2014 was Sony’s "One Stadium Live" around the Fifa World Cup. The platform of curated social content helped to deliver engagement from a modest media investment.

The agency says it spent 2014 perfecting its roadmap, vision and messaging, suggesting 2015 will be the year of action. Here’s hoping.

How the agency scores itself: 6

How the agency rates itself: 2014 was the year we closed the book on the long story of change at Isobar and moved forward as a strong, confident organisation with a clear identity, strong leadership, productive long-term client relationships, solid body of work and lots of optimism and ambition for the future. We focused on foundations, building a proactive, collaborative culture both in London and – in our role as a global growth hub – through the broader Isobar network.

Isobar
Type of agency Global creative digital marketing
Company ownership Dentsu Aegis Network
Nielsen billings 2014 £8m
Nielsen billings 2013 £8m
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 15
Accounts won 5 (biggest: Huawei)
Accounts lost 0
Number of staff 133 (+9%)
Key personnel Nick Bailey chief executive and executive creative director
Jon Boardman managing director
Patricia McDonald chief strategy officer

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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