Top 100 Agencies: School Reports. (1 of 4)

Clutching the internet close to their hearts and with more staff in their arsenals than for many years, our chosen agencies came through a tough 2006 well-placed to deal with the demands of an increasingly digital future.

You only have to glance along the top row of each school report to grasp how important this bunch consider change to be. All of a sudden, a rash of key players have decided to blur the lines of their offering - some with more justification than others - in a bid to keep clients happy and win new business. Not that there's anything wrong with simply calling yourself an "advertising", "direct" or "media" agency, naturally. But the world of marketing communications is changing so fundamentally that the race to gear up for the future is frantic.

Ogilvy Group's Gary Leih, Starcom's Linda Smith, Saatchi & Saatchi's Lee Daley and DDB London's Michael Bray are just a few from a long list of agency top brass to find themselves involved in varied degrees of internal adjustment. In fact, upon close inspection, most agencies could be found underpinning their offerings with new services in 2006. In 2007, those to have laid the strongest foundations - and implemented them the fastest - could find themselves storming to the top of the class.

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

ABBOTT MEAD VICKERS BBDO
BT
Type of agency: Advertising
Company ownership: Omnicom subsidiary
Key personnel: Cilla Snowball chairman
Farah Ramzan Golant chief executive
Paul Brazier executive creative director
Ian Pearman managing partner
George Bryant managing partner and head of planning
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £407m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £383m
Total accounts year end: 41
Accounts won: 7 (biggest: Motorola)
Accounts lost: 4 (biggest: Yell)
Number of staff: 298 (+1%)

Picking up the most coveted creative prize in advertising - the Cannes Grand Prix for its Guinness ad "noitulove"- was a fantastic achievement by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO in 2006. But it should be remembered the ad was created in 2005 when, thanks to a solid new-business performance, staggering client retention and hardly any lost accounts, the agency was in a better place.

Last year was different, as the biggest agency in the land watched a number of its bedrock accounts walk out of the door, along with the creative team behind that excellent work for Guinness.

The BBC departed after five years, the Department of Health's anti-smoking account left after 22 years and Yell said goodbye after 23 years of faithful service, because of an unfortunate conflict issue with BT.

These multimillion-pound departures were not successfully replaced, with AMV's only wins of note being the pan-European Motorola brief; some extra business from Masterfoods; the accountancy firm BDO Stoy Hayward; and the credit-card giant MBNA.

In people terms, Cilla Snowball was promoted to the role of group chairman after the talismanic Michael Baulk retired.

In its defence, it is worth noting that AMV is constrained in new-business terms by its size and the associated conflict issues this throws up. It was against this backdrop that the agency spent 2006 striving to create new revenue streams to bolster its position. Not only did it launch its version of Stream (Omnicom's branded-entertainment arm) it also formed a joint venture with the US interactive hot-shop iChameleon, which finished the year picking up its first win, The Economist's digital business.

Overall, 2006 lacked the resilience of 2005 for AMV. But it still sits on top of the billings league and did well to widen the gap over its closest rivals. Moves to create fresh revenue streams are commendable, but the agency needs to pull out all the stops this year to scale greater heights.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 7

How AMV BBDO rates itself: 9

"2006 was about being a better AMV. Better creative work: the UK's most-awarded agency at Cannes and Grand Prix winner. Better effectiveness: winning more than twice as many Marketing Society Awards as any other agency. Better digital: iChameleon, one of the US's hottest digital shops, is now core to AMV. Better new business: a 75 per cent success rate and 15 new brands from existing clients."

AGENCY REPUBLIC
BBC Radio 1
Type of agency: Digital full-service
Company ownership: Omnicom subsidiary
Key personnel: Martin Brooks chief executive
Jane McNeill managing director
Andy Sandoz creative director
Patrick Griffith planning director
Martin Kelly media director
Declared income: Undisclosed
Total accounts year end: 29
Accounts won: 10 (biggest: Baileys)
Accounts lost: 0
Creative: 40%
Media planning/buying: 30%
Web design/build: 15%
Digital strategy: 10%
Consultancy: 5%
Biggest-spending clients: 02, Dunlop, Mercedes-Benz
Number of staff: 80 (+22%)

Agency Republic went from strength to strength in 2006 - it was a stellar 12 months for the agency, which completed its first year as part of the newly formed Omnicom specialist collective, Zulu, and launched its own media division, Media Republic.

The digital agency topped its new-business record of eight wins for 2005 by netting an impressive ten victories last year. Three of those came from Unilever - Lynx, Impulse and Dove - and the biggest was from Diageo, which appointed the agency to handle the digital work for Baileys in February.Another assignment from the BBC came - on this occasion online work for the broadcaster's Spanish-language service BBC.Mundo.com.

Campaign-wise, Agency Republic launched some successful digital work in 2006 that built on its already healthy creative credentials. Most notable was its £1.5 million "A-to-S" campaign for Mercedes-Benz, which won a Campaign Digital Award, and "Musicubes" for Radio 1, which got a lot of attention, winning both a commendation from Campaign and the Internet Advertising Bureau Creative Showcase.

In line with the agency's growth, staff numbers grew by 22 per cent. The most significant appointment was that of Martin Kelly, who joined from Unique Digital at the start of last year as the head of Media Republic, which launched in September.

After such a successful 2006, which culminated in being named Campaign Digital Agency of the Year, Agency Republic's biggest challenge for 2007 will be keeping up the momentum.

Score last year: 8

Score this year: 9

How Agency Republic rates itself: 8

"In 2006, we focused our energies on doing the very best creative work for big, serious brands. We won more new business and awards - UK and international - than ever. We grew our talent base by hiring some truly inspiring people from all over the world. We established a relationship with Hall & Partners to measure the value of online brand spend. We played a founding role in Omnicom's global media network, OPera Digital. Importantly, it was also a year of fun and laughter."

AGENCY.COM
Dulux
Type of agency: Full-service interactive agency
Company ownership: Omnicom subsidiary
Key personnel: Alex Wright managing director
Olly Robinson head of creative
Russell Marsh head of client services
Mark Hopwood head of technology
Nick Corston head of business development
Declared income: Undisclosed
Total accounts at year end: 9
Accounts won: 4 (biggest: Ikea)
Accounts lost: 0
Interactive advertising: 30%
Web design/build: 30%
Strategy: 25%
Media planning/buying: 15%
Biggest-spending clients: British Airways, BT, Ikea
Number of staff: 150 (+15%)

2006 marked a coming-of-age for Agency.com: it cemented relationships with its Omnicom siblings TBWA\ and Tequila, and kick-started an ambitious expansion strategy.

The start of 2006 saw a seismic leadership shift, with the chief executive Don Scales departing in February following "strategic" differences. David Eastman, a digital veteran, then stepped up from his role as the managing director of the London office to become the global chief executive, overseeing the entire network.

Eastman's appointment was a significant change in leadership style for Agency.com. He took on the challenge of integrating its activities with those of TBWA\ and Tequila - no easy task given the cultural chasm that still exists between digital and above-the-line agencies. Under his stewardship, Agency.com opened offices in Dublin, Milan and Brussels, with openings in Shanghai and Paris planned for 2007 - an investment reflecting increased demand for global services from clients.

Eastman's move also meant a promotion for Alex Wright, who is now the London managing director. New business wasn't as strong as in 2005 in the UK, but work from its sibling agencies' clients helped beef things up. The publisher HarperCollins and Ikea appointed the agency, as did COI, while its existing client BT handed Agency.com some new projects. Ikea was a particularly exciting win because the retailer is about to launch an e-tailing venture.

"Creativity" isn't the word most associated with Agency.com, but Eastman has vowed to change that. It was shortlisted for or won 40 UK creative awards in 2006, and netted a Campaign Digital Award for its Dulux Colour work. With the foundations laid down last year, a return to new-business strength should follow in 2007.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 6

How Agency.com rates itself: 7

"Another great year, creating engaging interactive experiences and delivering results. We've enjoyed growth in new business, with existing clients and through the TBWA\ group. The biggest challenge for us all continues to be attracting the best people, but we've hired more than 35 of the most talented people in the business. A solid foundation from which to challenge stale conventions, both on and offline."

AKQA
Yell
Type of agency: Digital full-service
Company ownership: Majority owned by General Atlantic
Key personnel: Ajaz Ahmed chairman
Tom Bedecarre chief executive
Declared income: £20m (up from £13m in 2005)
Total accounts at year end: 60 (globally)
Accounts won: 12 (biggest: McDonald's)
Accounts lost: 0
Creative: 45%
Technology: 40%
Digital strategy: 10%
Media planning/buying: 5%
Biggest-spending clients: n/s
Number of staff: 220 (+25%)

AKQA, one of the giants of the digital business in both size and creative reputation, had a very healthy 2006. The agency established a knack of bringing in plenty of new business, while simultaneously scooping up handfuls of creative awards.

Major global wins included Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and McDonald's, for which it became the lead global agency. AKQA also improved on a fairly quiet local performance the previous year to bring the total number of new accounts in London to 12.

The agency, which operates a micro-network of five offices around the world serving its global clients, grew that network to six with the opening of a new shop in Shanghai. To combat the increasing shortage of talent, AKQA also became the first UK digital agency to set up an office in the virtual world of Second Life as a recruitment hub to bring in talent.

Most importantly, the agency continued to diversify and mature, spinning-off a dedicated mobile division and officially netting its first through-the-line advertising campaign for its directory client Yell.

The agency's work for Yell.com made use of interactive bus shelters and encouraged people waiting for buses to find out where local services and shops were in relation to where they were standing. Work for Nike RunLondon and Coke.com also proved popular with creative judges - in total, AKQA won 15 awards last year for its creative output.

AKQA will be hard-pressed to match its new-business drive of 2006 in the coming year, but there is huge potential for it to grow its integrated offering as the divide between disciplines starts to blur. Something not lost on the private-equity company General Atlantic which, at the time of writing, was closing a £250 million deal for a majority share in AKQA.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 8

How AKQA rates itself: 9

"AKQA started the year being named Agency of the Year on both sides of the Atlantic. Its momentum continued throughout 2006, winning 15 awards and 12 new clients. AKQA strengthened its advertising credentials by picking up the integrated activity for Yell.com. This, combined with an office launch in Shanghai and an excellent set of financial results, made it AKQA's most successful year."

ARC LONDON
Great Ormond Street Hospital
Type of agency: Multi-disciplined below-the-line agency
Company ownership: Publicis-owned
Key personnel: Mike Spicer managing director
Diana Cawley deputy managing director
Verity Johnston planning director
Aaron Martin joint creative director
Garry Munns joint creative director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £6m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £5m
Total accounts at year end: 24
Accounts won: 15 (biggest: HBOS)
Accounts lost: 1 (Great Ormond Street Hospital)
Number of staff: 170 (+21% including Triangle merger)

After a couple of turbulent years defined by management departures, Arc London finally seems to be settling down and finding its feet again. The year began well when, in January, the award-winning creative team of Garry Munns and Aaron Martin were promoted to creative directors. They are proteges of their predecessors, Jack Nolan and Graham Mills, whose departure from the agency in 2004 served as a catalyst for the traumas that followed.

The agency produced little high-profile work during 2006, however. One exception was a powerful mailing for Great Ormond Street Hospital - a Valentine's Day-themed pack that asked for contributions to the refurbishment of the hospital's 20-year-old cardiac unit. Ultimately, Arc was to part company with that client in 2006, but the agency says its Alzeimer's Society win more than makes up for the lost billings in that area.

Led by Mike Spicer, Arc London's managing director, the start of the recovery came after its merger with Triangle. This was obviously a big move, but it reaped quick rewards as the new Arc offering helped the agency win the Post Office in-branch account.

Overall, Arc's performance on the new-business front was good. As well as the Post Office brief, it won a place on Nestle's roster and work from Tesco to promote its Sports for Schools and Clubs programme. In November, it teamed up with Leo Burnett to win Barclays Global Investors' pan-European iShares task. It also won some Samsung business as a result of the consolidation of the account into Leo Burnett.

Arc's strategic credentials also received a boost when Andrew Edwards, the president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, hired John Frood as the regional planning director. As well as his regional responsibilities, Frood will also work on strategy for London. The appointment shores up another important area of the business.

There's still a lot of work to be done at Arc, but it's not in as dark a place as it was 12 months ago.

Score last year: 5

Score this year: 6

How Arc rates itself: 6

"We started 2006 as two agencies - Arc UK and Triangle - April saw the merger of the two companies and the loss of the well-known Triangle brand from the industry. After six months of readjustment and the bringing together of two cultures, Arc has emerged with a stronger client offering resulting in significant new-business wins, namely: HBOS, iShares, Kraft Foods, Alzheimer's Society and the appointment to the Procter & Gamble digital roster."

ARCHIBALD INGALL STRETTON
O2
Type of agency: Integrated
Company ownership: Independent (Havas holds minority stake)
Key personnel: Stuart Archibald managing partner
Jon Ingall managing partner
Steve Stretton creative partner
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £115,803
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £1m
Total accounts year end: 15
Accounts won: 8 (biggest: Abbey)
Accounts lost: 0
Number of staff: 107 (+14%)

Archibald Ingall Stretton returned from the new-business wilderness last year with an impressive performance following three years of bedding down its O2 client. In 2006, the structural changes it had put in place 12 months earlier bore fruit. The agency's joint client service directors, Alistair Bryan and Jo Boyd, proved capable of manning the fort as the partners, Stuart Archibald and Jon Ingall, jetted off to Asia in search of other business opportunities.

The new team also proved a successful pitching machine. The agency's haul included Barnardo's, Now Broadband, RNIB, Corgi Gas Fitters and the £16 million Abbey credit-card business. With new-business billings in excess of £21.5 million, Ingall enlisted the help of the former EHS Brann chief executive Andrew Harris to help the agency improve its profit margin and make it more attractive should suitors come calling.

Creative highlights were for Skoda, Moet Hennessy, Barnardo's and O2, including the development of the high-profile Blue Room that gives customers VIP privileges online, in stores and at events.

As part of a joint paper for O2, it won a gold for best integration at the IPA Effectiveness Awards alongside VCCP, ZenithOptimedia and Lambie Nairn.

AIS also earned some green credentials when it went carbon neutral.

At the end of the year, there was more change when Bryan accepted a job at the rival company Iris. AIS responded by promoting Boyd to managing director as part of a restructure that involved its digital division, Dais, being folded back into the main agency.

If AIS can build on last year's new-business success and raise the profile of its work for clients other than O2, it will be hard to beat in 2007.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 8

How Archibald Ingall Stretton rates itself: 8

"In 2006, our dogged pursuit of integration really bore fruit: alongside the usual creative accolades, we bagged an IPA gold and a Marketing Society Effectiveness Award. It was a stellar year for both new business and organic growth - particularly in digital, which we've brought back under the main agency umbrella. And our employees launched our CSR policy - so now every taxi taken to Little Italy sees us plant a little tree."

BARTLE BOGLE HEGARTY
British Airways
Type of agency: Advertising
Company ownership: 49% owned by Publicis Groupe
Key personnel: Nigel Bogle group chief executive
John Hegarty group chairman, worldwide creative director
Jim Carroll chairman
John O'Keeffe executive creative director
Ben Fennell managing director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £213m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £206m
Total accounts year end: 40
Accounts won: 1 (Vodafone)
Accounts lost: 4 (biggest: Smirnoff Ice)
Number of staff: 451 (+19%)

Scooping a fourth consecutive Agency of the Year title was always going to be difficult for Bartle Bogle Hegarty. With two huge slices of business to digest in the form of British Airways and Omo, the fearsome BBH new-business machine was deliberately less voracious in 2006. Similarly, the agency's creative department had a quieter showing at the various awards ceremonies as it attempted to service the demanding new accounts.

Nonetheless, there is much to praise in BBH's past year, not least the manner in which the agency ended it - impressively stealing the £47 million UK Vodafone account from JWT after a pitch led by Ben Fennell, who arrived as the managing director from BBH Singapore in March. The tug of love with JWT for Diageo's Smirnoff Ice brand swung in JWT's favour after the client and BBH agreed it should be reassigned.

And Smirnoff Ice wasn't the only account to say farewell to Kingly Street in 2006. In a high-profile spat, BBH also decided to part company with the £50 million worldwide Sony Ericsson account after it learned the phone manufacturer had been working with the brand consultancy Wolff Olins.

That disagreement in July continued a fractious year for BBH. Earlier, the agency managed to raise a rare protest from the normally docile production community when it attempted to change the terms of its contracts with its editor and producer suppliers.

One criticism that continues to be levelled at BBH is that its traditionally high creative standards have been allowed to slip in its relentless search for new business. Its patchy showing at the various awards last year appears to bear this out, although the executive creative director John O'Keeffe's hirings should see his creative department fire on all cylinders in 2007.

Score last year: 9

Score this year: 7

How Bartle Bogle Hegarty rates itself: 7

"2006 was the year that we had to make sure the black sheep stayed black. We put a hold on new business in order to digest wins of '05. Worked hard to improve creative output, especially print. Most successful agency at Campaign Press Awards and Radio Agency of the Year. Innovated with launch of the brand invention company Zag. Integrated engagement planning and digital into the agency. Resigned business that wasn't right for us."

BDH\TBWA
PZ Cussons Original Source
Type of agency: Advertising
Company ownership: Omnicom subsidiary
Key personnel: Robert Harwood-Matthews chief executive
Nick Brookes managing director
Paul Tinker finance director
Chris Lear joint creative director
Gary Hulme joint creative director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £36m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £64m
Total accounts year end: 30
Accounts won: 5 (biggest: Co-op Travel)
Accounts lost: 3 (biggest: Morrisons)
Number of staff: 110 (-13%)

BDH\TBWA is well known for the long service of its senior managers. So it was quite a shock when the Manchester agency issued marching orders to Neil Griffiths, its chief executive, and Carol Smith, its managing director, last autumn.

How closely their departures were linked to the agency's loss of the £37 million Morrisons account to Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners is an open question. Martin Kemp, the BDH chairman, says not. Nevertheless, there is no question the decision to go for a regime change culminates what has been a tough period for the agency.

Some believe the agency was unlucky to have lost Morrisons. Its work may have passed muster in a stable market, but the supermarket sector is volatile and Morrisons is demanding something special if it is to challenge a dominant Tesco and a resurgent Sainsbury's.

The job of getting BDH growing again now falls to Robert Harwood-Matthews, the former client services director at TBWA\London. Those who know him are struck by his confidence and dynamism. However, it is too early to say what difference he will make and whether he can effectively jump what can be a difficult cultural chasm between agency management in London and the regions.

BDH did score a couple of significant wins during the year - the Co-operative Travel Trading Group (£3 million) and the Dairy Council of Northern Ireland.

But Harwood-Matthews will not need reminding that cash-strapped London agencies are ever-more hungry for regional business, and that accounts such as Morrisons do not come around often. But with clients such as Nissan and PZ Cussons to sustain it, there's no reason for a drama to turn into a crisis.

Score last year: 5

Score this year: 3

How BDH\TBWA rates itself: 5

"'A game of two halves, Brian ...' as someone once famously said. Pants in the first half. But things started to look up in the second. We got a new centre forward. The rest of the team started to believe in themselves again. Bit late to claw everything back in the year. But the future looks good. As in football - the pundits claimed all honours would go to London in '07. I wouldn't bank on it."

BEATTIE MCGUINNESS BUNGAY
McCain
Type of agency: Advertising
Company ownership: Private company
Key personnel: Trevor Beattie founding partner
Andrew McGuinness founding partner
Bil Bungay founding partner
David Bain planning partner
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £43m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £8m
Total accounts year end: 12
Accounts won: 6 (biggest: McCain)
Accounts lost: 1 (Fcuk)
Number of staff: 52 (+64%)

Launched immediately after the May 2005 election, Beattie McGuinness Bungay has had its first full trading year. The boys done well - better, one suspects than even they suspected.

Although there were painful losses along the way last year, the graph tracking BMB's fortunes is still plotting a steep, upward angle.

BMB began 2006 by resigning the Zoo account it had taken just two months earlier, citing conflict with Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell business.

But it didn't have to wait long to replace the lost revenue. In February, the agency landed the iconic £7 million Carling account in a four-way pitch against the incumbent, Leith London, VCCP and Euro RSCG.

Heinz sauces followed in April, adding to the HP Food business that the agency already held. Next came creative duties for Virgin Galactic and Selfridges and, in June, the big one: McCain.

That McCain would want to rekindle its relationship with Trevor Beattie was no surprise. That BMB would come up with anything as bold as the Oliver! hit Food - Glorious Food - rewritten as Chips, Glorious Chips was an altogether bigger surprise.

The wins will have cushioned the agency's unfortunate losses: French Connection severed its long ties with Beattie in June and, when Heinz announced a new marketing director would join later in the summer, a consolidation of advertising duties looked ever more likely.

That review was kicked off in June and expanded in August to include non-roster agencies. BMB eventually said farewell to its Heinz share in November and, while the account's departure is clearly a loss, the three founding partners still have much to congratulate themselves on as they look forward to 2007.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 7

How Beattie McGuinness Bungay rates itself: 8

"Our first full year has been a year beyond our wildest dreams. We've teamed up with Britain's biggest beer, Britain's best store and the world's best chips. All lovely people with ambitions to do great and different things. We've only just begun. But we're now 52 very happy Herberts. Roll on 2007."

BJK&E
Canon
Type of agency: Media
Company ownership: WPP subsidiary
Key personnel: Tim Irwin joint managing director
James Jennings joint managing director
Nick Kelvin board director
Andy Benningfield broadcast director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £49m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £55m
Total accounts year end: 32
Accounts won: 5 (biggest: Dodge Caliber)
Accounts lost: 1 (Fujitsu Siemens Computers)
TV: 31%
Press: 37%
Outdoor: 12%
Radio: 5%
Below the line: 1%
Other (including online): 14%
Number of staff: 26 (+4%)

Apart from a smattering of new business and some fresh hirings, 2006 was a fairly ordinary year for BJK&E. On the new business side, the agency won Dodge, Oasis Airlines and i-mate, but lost the Fujitsu Siemens Computers account to Initiative.

On the staff side, the former Vizeum worldwide head of marketing Mark Robinson resurfaced at the agency in a similar role, acknowledgment that BJK&E needs to improve its new-business record in 2007.

The agency also took the sensible - and rather overdue - step of beefing up its digital capability. To this end, it hired David Fineman from Carat as its first head of digital. BJK&E has developed something of a reputation for solid planning-driven work and, in May, the agency also appointed Nick Kelvin to its board in an attempt to bolster this area.

In last year's report, Campaign suggested the agency might capitalise on Group M's buying power, and the agency moved to do just that by incorporating this advantage into a new market positioning: "Small Agency, Big Business."

In practical terms, BJK&E is small enough to be able to offer clients day-to-day access to its senior people, but on another level, it is supported by Group M without the anonymity a smaller client might normally find at one of the buying group's large media agencies. Handled correctly, this should be a compelling USP and one the agency should look to fully exploit in 2007 with clients in the under-£10 million category.

Score last year: 5

Score this year: 5

How BJK&E rates itself: 7

"We have built on our clear positioning within Group M: 'Small Agency, Big Business.' We've retained our clients and won several new ones, such as Oasis, Hong Kong Airlines, i-mate and Dodge. We have been leaders in the field in digital - from podcasting to IPTV to mobile - and have reinforced this with the appointment of Dave Fineman as the head of digital. With this strong team in place, we are in great shape moving into 2007."

BLM
Setanta Sport
Type of agency: Media planning and buying
Company ownership: Private company
Key personnel: Nick Lockett chairman
Steve Booth chief executive
Charlie Makin chief strategic officer
Paul van Barthold chief operating officer
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £57m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £60m
Total accounts year end: 99
Accounts won: 18 (biggest: MBNA)
Accounts lost: 1 (Hallmark)
TV: 33.5%
Press: 21.5%
Outdoor: 5.2%
Radio: 1.8%
Other (including online): 38%
Number of staff: 106 (+29%)

In 2006, BLM evolved from a tidy business into an impressive one. It went on the acquisition trail, won enough new business to hit its growth targets and continued to evolve its digital offering.

BLM increased its profits by 22 per cent and its head count by 29 per cent, while its group billings are now in excess of £100 million. Its presence in the market was boosted in January 2006 with the acquisition of Red Media to create BLM Red, a fashion and luxury specialist with billings of more than £10 million. It also took a key role in the newly created international operation Columbus Media International, which could potentially provide growth from global clients.

Its new-business performance was good - but not spectacular: it landed the growing Setanta Sport account late in the year, plus other wins including GNER, TK Maxx and, via its BLM Quantum digital division, the £9 million MBNA online media brief.

Digital continues to be a strength for BLM, with Quantum doubling its billings and moving to the heart of the group offering after a management restructure. This saw Pippa Glucklick's role expanded to that of BLM Media managing director and Pedro Avery take on the role of managing director of trading and futures. BLM also hired Gavin Reeder as head of digital strategy from Yahoo!

Not everything went right, though: it failed to land a couple of big accounts it pitched for, notably John Lewis, and it resigned its Hallmark business after differences with the client. But, on the whole, 2006 was a good year. With its founders all still on board, it has set itself the challenge of winning bigger pitches this year while continuing to acquire other media businesses.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 7

How BLM rates itself: 7

"Still the UK's number-one independent agency, adding £36 million in billings following expansion into new sectors. We acquired Red Media and doubled profits. BLM Quantum doubled billings for the second year in a row. The restructure placed digital at the business core and made integration a key proposition. Expanded globally, with Columbus Media International, a $4.2 billion media network in 30 countries. New-business wins included MBNA, Setanta, Warners and TK Maxx."

BRILLIANT MEDIA
DFS
Type of agency: Media buying specialist
Company ownership: Private company
Key personnel: Steve Lane chief executive
David Moutrie managing director
Craig Megretton financial director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £117m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £107m
Total accounts year end: 50
Accounts won: 6 (biggest: Airline Network)
Accounts lost: 1 (Hillarys Blinds)
TV: 45%
Press: 30%
Outdoor: 10%
Radio: 5%
Other (including online): 10%
Number of staff: 100 (+10%)

Brilliant Media had a busy 2006. New business was good and behind the scenes there was a significant release of equity to seven directors, laying the foundation for the next stage of Brilliant's development.

The fact that Brilliant did not generate significant headlines belies its size. It started 2006 ranked 15th in Campaign's Top 50 Media Agencies table, with big-spending clients such as DFS helping it edge out more famous names such as Media Planning Group and BLM.

On the new-business front, the independently owned agency won six accounts, but lost Hillarys Blinds, one of its biggest clients. In August, the £10 million chunk of business moved to MediaCom following a competitive pitch.

On the positive side, Brilliant captured Asda's £12 million regional media business in addition to Airline Network and HomeForm. Despite the loss of Hillarys, the agency said it still managed to grow turnover on the back of these wins.

On the people front, Brilliant implemented some management changes that should secure the future independence of the business and keep its senior talent on board. The agency handed equity to seven directors, while the co-founders, Steve Lane and David Moutrie, retain a majority stake and their operational roles as the chief executive and the managing director of the agency respectively.

Looking ahead, Brilliant will undoubtedly continue to face unwelcome interest in its clients from London agencies, but if it continues to leverage its independence and local expertise through its offices in Leeds and Manchester, the agency should continue to prosper.

Score last year: n/a

Score this year: 6

How Brilliant rates itself: 6

"Brilliant has continued to grow, adding several new accounts across its Leeds and Manchester offices such as Airline Network, Thompson Alfresco Holidays, Pendragon Group, Premierline and Spectrum Financial Services, with turnover projected to exceed £150 million this year. The company is the largest entirely privately owned media agency in the UK and our challenger-brand positioning as a real alternative to the major networks is increasingly striking a chord with many clients. Biggest disappointment? Losing Hillarys."

CARAT
Adidas
Type of agency: Media
Company ownership: Aegis subsidiary
Key personnel: Nigel Sharrocks CEO, Aegis UK & Ireland
Neil Jones managing director, Carat
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £608m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £674m
Total accounts year end: 89
Accounts won: 17 (biggest: General Motors)
Accounts lost: 6 (biggest: Danone)
TV: 48%
Press: 19%
Outdoor: 6%
Radio: 3%
Below the line: 3%
Other (including online): 21%
Number of staff: 368 (+4%)

Carat came into 2006 a tad battered after losing its prized News International account. But 12 months later, the agency can pride itself on having had its best-ever year for new business.

Carat's list of UK planning and buying wins is long and impressive - ranging from Alliance & Leicester's £27 million media business and Abbey Digital to projects for Yahoo! Answers and Google.

The agency's reputation for strong planning was enhanced by a number of COI successes, including the brief for COI Royal Navy/Royal Marines after a competitive pitch. Carat also won a place on rosters for COI communications planning, data planning and sponsorship. Then the agency had a hand in some giant network wins, the most surprising of which came towards the end of the year when, out of the blue, General Motors switched its £400 million media business to Aegis. Carat was assigned to handle the £85 million UK account.

Earlier in the year, Carat picked up media duties for the consolidated Adidas/Reebok account in the UK as part of a global consolidation into the agency. The win was testament to a recurring theme in the agency's year, namely its pre-eminence in digital and an ability to offer integrated solutions. Neil Jones, who restructured the agency into six business units allowing delivery of integrated solutions, should be credited here.

The standard of the agency's work was high, too. Highlights included the agency's Think! teen road safety campaign winning a gong at the Campaign Media Awards.

However, at the end of the year, a little shine came off Carat's relentless progress. A string of high-profile losses - Danone, EMI and Amercian Express - showed the agency needs to make sure the back door is bolted while ushering in new business through the front.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 8

How Carat rates itself: 7

"In 2006, we established a new vision and identity - 'Transforming Communications', which was adopted across the Carat network globally. We also radically restructured the entire business into multi-disciplinary client groups to achieve this vision. In addition, a new planning approach - the Communications Framework - was introduced for all of our people. We produced award-winning work for existing clients and had another record year for new business."

CHEETHAMBELL JWT
Department for Work and Pensions
Type of agency: Integrated marketing communications
Company ownership: WPP subsidiary
Key personnel: David Bell chief executive
Andy Cheetham creative director
Katrina Michel chairman
Jane Clancy managing director
Russ Vine business development director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £42m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £56m
Total accounts year end: 30
Accounts won: 8 (biggest: COI Benefit Fraud)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: Reckitt Benckiser)
Number of staff: 80 (-20%)

The senior management team at Cheethambell JWT will feel hard done by to have lost such a huge chunk of billings following Reckitt Benckiser's decision to move all of its business out of the JWT network. Even though the pitch was run by the main JWT agency, the loss will still have to be absorbed by the regional agency, ultimately putting a dampener on 2006.

In 2005, Cheethambell JWT was on a high. It finished the year the second-biggest regional agency in the land, with nine account wins, no losses and a full nine months clocked up on the Campaign new-business league. No such luck in 2006. In fact, one of the wins that underlined the previous year's success, Bradford & Bingley, left the agency in 2006.

But that isn't to say Cheethambell JWT had a bad year new-business wise, because it managed to pull in some substantial wins. The biggest victory came from the Department for Work and Pensions, which handed the agency its Benefit Fraud account (to be shared with VCCP). This was followed with wins from John West, Stena Line Ferries, Coors Brewery and Sport England.

Away from the new-business arena, the agency was making a concerted effort to increase its offering to clients, a vital move for any regional operation seeking to take on London rivals and win. It also beefed up its direct marketing and digital offerings.

On the people side, Cheethambell JWT hired Jane Clancy as its managing director - an executive with a strong track record of running full-service agencies. That she was persuaded to join from rival BJL - the biggest independent regional agency - speaks well of the existing Cheethambell JWT management team and the agency's plans for growth.

If Cheethambell JWT can deliver on its direct and digital plans, and put together a new-business run sufficient to repair some of the damage from Reckitt Benckiser, then 2007 will be a good year.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 6

How Cheethambell JWT rates itself: 6

"A year of two halves. Reckitt's realignment hurt. Our campaigns always earned top marks for service and sales growth, yet we lost the business through no fault of our own. Trouble is, it happened just as other clients began to cut their ad budgets. Since then, however, our pitch record has left the locals standing and big London names beaten. Our latest COI win was huge; we have just clinched Stena and a main competitor's managing director was so impressed she jumped ship. Bring on 2007!"

CLAYDON HEELEY
Type of agency: Direct marketing
Company ownership: Omnicom subsidiary
Key personnel: Richard Madden chief executive
Mike Welsh managing director
Pete Harle creative director
Dave Woods creative director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £4m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £7m
Total accounts year end: 22
Accounts won: 7 (biggest: 3)
Accounts lost: 0
Number of staff: 106 (+14%)

For many agencies, losing your chief executive and founder is unsettling, but losing your flagship client in the same year as well could be devastating.

But when the Claydon Heeley chief executive, Nigel Jones, departed in 2005, closely followed by its showcase client The Guardian, the agency took it in its stride, formulated a recovery plan and got on with it in 2006.

The first move was to import Tim Millar as planning director from its sister digital shop Agency Republic. Together with Mike Welsh, who was promoted to managing director at the end of 2005, his arrival completes the management team that replaces Jones.

This new team, alongside the creative directors, Dave Woods and Pete Harle, and the chairman, Jon Claydon, have formed a formidable pitching team. It won Dodge, 3 and Mates Condoms in the UK and Manix in France, Bupa Hospitals and QVC - accumulating more than £30 million in new-business billings.

Last year was also the year that Claydon Heeley kick-started its digital strategy, as winning 3 meant it couldn't rely on Agency Republic (which has O2) for its digital output. The agency hired Sam Bertram from Good Technology to lead its own offering, which is now responsible for around 16 per cent of Claydon Heeley's revenues.

Creatively, the agency has been doing more to impress clients than awards juries. ING Direct, Egg and DaimlerChrysler have all handed the agency more work on the strength of the results its campaigns generated.

Claydon Heeley ticked all the boxes across new business, client retention and its enviable management team. And the business will go into 2007 with an ever-more confident line-up, following the appointment of Richard Madden as its chief executive in January 2006. If the agency can now find a client that will allow it to do some more of the brave and engaging work it produced for The Guardian, Direct Agency of the Year could be in its sights for 2007.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 7

How Claydon Heeley rates itself: 7

"We were always going to be in the spotlight following Nigel's departure, and 2006 was supposed to be a year of transition. But the year was much better than expected. Headcount was significantly up, and we won nine pitches. Richard's arrival as the chief executive gives us another gear: he's one of the sharpest brains around, and a nice guy to boot. With the competition getting hotter, we're in good shape."

CLEMMOW HORNBY INGE
Type of agency: Full-service advertising
Company ownership: Independent
Key personnel: Simon Clemmow partner
Johnny Hornby partner
Charles Inge partner
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £138m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £142m
Total accounts year end: 25
Accounts won: 11 (biggest: Lexus)
Accounts lost: 3 (biggest: Heineken)
Number of staff: 168 (+31%)

Clemmow Hornby Inge's 2006 may not have been quite as spectacular as 2005, but in the year the independent agency celebrated its fifth anniversary, there was still plenty to cheer. Whether or not CHI will remain independent over the next 12 months is a moot point - industry chatter points to a deal of some sort being done possibly with Havas; one which could turn CHI into an altogether different beast.

Any change in ownership is unlikely to alter the agency's voracious appetite for new business. Last year, it cemented its position on the European Toyota roster and scored wins that included Branston, Thomson Directories and Britvic's J2O brand. In addition, it successfully defended its hold on Anchor Butter.

Much of its growth in 2006 came from its relationship with founding client Carphone Warehouse, which goes some way to explaining why CHI won fewer accounts than the previous year. The retailer will likely hand CHI advertising duties for the AOL Broadband business it bought last autumn. And its tie-up with Best Buy, the US retailer, should see CHI make tentative steps towards the creation of a network, with a US office likely to open at some point this year.

Creatively, CHI must still feel it has to silence its critics who say the agency's output plays second fiddle to its wins. The executive creative director, Ewan Paterson, strengthened his department with a number of big-name signings last year, and he exudes an easy confidence that says 2007's reel will be better.

CHI's losses - on the account side, at least - were small: Kinder Bueno departed after a year, during which no new work was produced. However, the defection of its widely regarded new-business director, Ben Slater, who joined Bartle Bogle Hegarty New York in August 2006, was a more stinging blow. Christian Hinchcliffe, his replacement, who joined from McCann Erickson in January, has large shoes to fill, although no-one doubts he will stamp his mark on the agency.

Score last year: 8

Score this year: 7

How Clemmow Hornby Inge rates itself: 7

"We welcomed some fantastic new creative talent to help make the next five years as wonderful as the first five, which included Nigel Roberts, Ed and Dave and Thiago de Moraes. Our creative work is better than ever as a result. Existing clients rewarded us with new brands like Branston, J20 and Yaris, and we won new clients like Lexus, Best Buy and Geek Squad. Our work now runs across Europe, in Russia and Manhattan, too."

CRAIK JONES WATSON MITCHELL VOELKEL
Type of agency: Direct marketing
Company ownership: Omnicom subsidiary
Key personnel: David Watson chief executive
Fiona Scott managing director
Jackie Stevenson deputy managing director
Mark Buckingham creative director
Caroline Parkes planning director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £3m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £2m
Total accounts year end: 31
Accounts won: 4 (biggest: Arcadia Group)
Accounts lost: 1 (Piat d'Or)
Number of staff: 92 (+9%)

A bumper creative year and a management overhaul showed Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel was intent on rejuvenating its fortunes in 2006.

The first major change was the departure of the founding partner Robin Mitchell. This left the chief executive, David Watson, as the only remaining founder. Claire Syrett, the new-business director, followed him out of the door, her responsibilities transferred to the deputy managing director, Jackie Stevenson.

Five new members of the board were appointed as a result of this shake-up, including Caroline Parkes, who was promoted to planning director in March.

Craik Jones' new-business efforts then improved, and it was once again a regular fixture on shortlists such as Direct Line and Virgin Atlantic, which it failed to convert. The agency did win Arcadia's direct marketing, the integrated Guideline Daily Amounts account, and secured a place on the newly created below-the-line roster for Unilever UK. It also won the DM for Hellmann's Extra Light. Other victories included Gap's online CRM and an awareness project for Refuge.

On the downside, the agency stopped working for The National Trust on a retained basis and is facing a review of its flagship Orange account, as its owner France Telecom looks at consolidating its broadband and mobile direct accounts.

Creatively, 2006 was faultless and the agency scooped a D&AD yellow Pencil, a Campaign Direct silver, and Campaign's DM campaign of the year accolade, for its "bulldog clip" mailing for Land Rover. And if you thought this would be a tough act to follow, it delivered gems for Refuge, Virgin Trains, Surf and Gordon's Gin.

Clearly, the management changes were designed to help Craik Jones get its new-business mojo back and while some success did come, it wasn't a stellar showing. It is the agency's outstanding creative performance, for which Rebecca Rae - the only woman on Campaign's list of top direct creatives for 2006 - should also be given credit, that lifts Craik Jones' score this year.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 7

How Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel rates itself: 8

"This year was particularly satisfying on the creative front, with 42 awards spread across seven accounts. We've steadily continued to grow, both through demand from current clients and finding some interesting new ones. And we're working across a broader media canvas than ever before. There are also bright new people all over the agency, especially in digital, which continues to grow faster than any other department."

DARE
Lynx
Type of agency: Digital advertising
Company ownership: Independent (Bartle Bogle Hegarty: holds a 25%
share)
Key Personnel: Mark Collier managing partner
John Owen planning partner
Lee Wright managing director
Flo Heiss creative partner
James Cooper creative director
Declared income: £8m (£5m in 2005)
Total accounts year end: 15
Accounts won: 10 (biggest: Vodafone)
Accounts lost: 0
Web design/build: 25%
Digital advertising: 20%
eCRM: 20%
Interactive content: 15%
Digital outdoor and point-of-sale: 10%
Mobile: 5%
iTV: 5%
Biggest-spending clients: Barclays, Vodafone, Sony Ericsson
Number of staff: 106 (+89%)

Last year was a strong one for Dare - the Campaign Digital Agency of the Year 2003, 2004, 2005 - as it enjoyed the best period of growth since its inception back in 2000. Despite losing out to Agency Republic for an award it had practically made its own, Dare's progress and creative output was still impressive.

Over the 12 months to the end of December 2006, the agency almost doubled in size, swelling its ranks to more than 100 staff. Dare also topped its new-business record from the year before, taking on ten new accounts, compared with the six that it won back in 2005.

Highlights included a place on the Unilever roster - working on the Flora and Magnum brands - and the coveted Vodafone brief. A win that got things off to such a good start back in January last year.

Joining Dare's ranks was its first managing director, Lee Wright, who was poached from Grand Union. Meanwhile, the creative combination of James Cooper and Flo Heiss continued to flourish. The agency was the most awarded in the Campaign Digital Awards, where it scooped prizes for its work for Lynx and Sony Ericsson, and for its "Dare School" project.

Despite losing its Campaign crown, it was a good year for Dare, only a mug would rule against it winning back its Digital Agency of the Year title again.

Score last year: 9

Score this year: 8

How Dare rates itself: 8

"Digital marketing took some giant leaps forward in 2006. At Dare, we found ourselves increasingly being engaged at a higher level by clients who see digital as central to their marketing - and are prepared to invest in it. This resulted in the most prolific year of growth in our history. Along the way, we delivered some stand-out work and attracted some great people. Finding top talent is still the biggest challenge for us - and the industry."

DDB LONDON
Harvey Nichols
Type of agency: Advertising
Company ownership: Omnicom subsidiary
Key personnel: Michael Bray acting chief executive
Jeremy Craigen executive creative director
Lucy Jameson head of planning
Richard Morris business development director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £202m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £235m
Total accounts year end: 32
Accounts won: 6 (biggest: Star Alliance)
Accounts lost: 6 (biggest: TUI)
Number of staff: 406 (+4%)

True, there were some wins: Financial Times (£5 million) and the £15 million pan-European account for the satellite navigation system Garmin among them, but challenging barely begins to describe DDB London's 2006. Three of its flagship accounts left, and the agency spent the whole year with no full-time leader, leaving it rudderless in a ruthless market.

DDB London was long envied for the quality of its management and sureness of touch. Making it all the more astonishing that there seemed so few suitable takers to replace Paul Hammersley as chief executive, after his defection to The Red Brick Road late in 2005.

Quite how much of what happened to DDB is directly linked to the departures of Hammersley and David Hackworthy, the chief strategy officer, is an open question. But their exits undoubtedly made an impact on some key client relationships and exacerbated a difficult period that saw the Weetabix, PG Tips, Lurpak and The Guardian assignments go elsewhere. Justin Tindall also defected at the end of the year.

There was even more upheaval at the end of 2006 when Jorian Murray, the managing director, quit, and a merger between DDB London and its sister agency Burkitt DDB was announced.

It all adds up to a stern test for Stephen Woodford, the former chief executive of Engine Group, who was named as Hammersley's successor last summer but was contractually barred from taking immediate command.

It should be noted that this difficult year for DDB London unfolded against a tragic backdrop. In January, John Webster, widely regarded as the finest creative mind in the history of advertising, died. He was 71. Webster had worked at the agency until his death.The sad news was followed by the loss of DDB Worldwide president and chief executive Ken Kaess, who lost his battle against cancer in March 2006, at the age of 51.

By the end of the year, though, DDB London's emergence as the most-awarded agency at the IPA Effectiveness Awards, as well as its acclaimed series of Harvey Nichols press ads, suggested all was not lost.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 3

How DDB London rates itself: 6

"This year, we're the most effective agency in Britain (source: IPA Effectiveness Awards); the most creatively awarded agency in the world (source: Gunn Report); and the best Television Agency in the country (source: BTAA). We also won more business than we lost and found ourselves a great new CEO. So, other than a lot of bad press, it was a pretty good 2006."

DELANEY LUND KNOX WARREN & PARTNERS
Vauxhall/Opel
Type of agency: Advertising full-service
Company ownership: Creston subsidiary
Key personnel: Greg Delaney chairman
Mark Lund chief executive
Richard Warren director of strategy
Tom Knox joint managing director
Alex Kuropatwa joint managing director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £145m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £142m
Total accounts year end: 37
Accounts won: 7 (biggest: Morrisons)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: Premier Foods)
Number of staff: 220 (+6.2%)

Will 2006 go down as the year Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners bought its creativity more closely into line with its voracious new-business performance?

Constantly taken to task over the perceived chasm between its commercial and creative success, the agency began demonstrating it could move beyond its familiar "all-singing, all-dancing" style. Indeed, the Vauxhall Corsa "c'mon" campaign, and the teenage pregnancy work for the Department of Health may prove harbingers of better creativity to come.

An account that cries out for such work will be Morrisons. The supermarket chain switched its £37 million account out of its northern heartland for the first time (it was DLKW's biggest win of the year) in an attempt to give its brand more personality, and move its advertising beyond the mere workmanlike.

At the same time, the agency had to come to terms with some disappointments. The Financial Times severed a 14-year relationship. There was also the frustration of losing Premier Foods' Branston range over a clash with its Campbell's business. Much to the agency's chagrin, however, the conflict failed to materialise when Premier and Campbell's became part of the same group.

Successfully managing growth will be DLKW's priority in the coming months. The agency made nine redundancies last year, the result of what it acknowledges was staffing up too quickly.

Offering more integrated services may well prove the key to such growth. Managing the cultural change that comes with its ownership by mini-conglomerate Creston is also key, as will be success in building on the knowledge gained from its relationship with General Motors across Europe to win more international assignments. All the more reason to keep the creative momentum going.

Score last year: 8

Score this year: 7

How Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners rates itself: 8

"Creatively it was one of our best years, with highlights being the Corsa "c'mons", and "astrabatics" for Vauxhall/Opel, as well as "condom essential wear" for sexual health (COI). There was also a great little film for Everyman involving some unfeasibly large testicles. We may have won fewer pitches than last year, but the value of the wins was greater. International is now around 20 per cent of income and our digital, DM and in-store divisions grew by around 50 per cent."

DIFFINITI
Aviva
Type of agency: Full-service online planning and buying
Company ownership: Aegis subsidiary
Key personnel: Robert Horler managing director
James Harris board director
Barrie Cree board director
Declared income: n/s
Total accounts year end: 18
Accounts won: 3 (biggest: Aviva)
Accounts lost: 0
Media planning/buying: 90%
Consultancy: 10%
Biggest-spending clients: Aviva, Dell, AOL
Number of staff: 72 (+70%)

Diffiniti, part of the Aegis-owned Isobar network, debuts in the school reports this year following 12 months of healthy growth in 2006. The year began on a high for the agency, as it landed the £20 million digital media and communications business from Norwich Union and the RAC parent company, Aviva. The latter being one of the biggest bits of online media business around. However, other than the Aviva victory, the agency was fairly quiet on the new-business front - in part owing to its focus on capturing and bedding down that client.

Internally, perhaps the most significant development for the agency was the creation of its own search-engine optimisation division, a move reflecting growing demand in the market for services that take a more strategic approach to digital. The company also took on Tesco's former head of affiliate marketing, Edwina Farquhar, to head all performance-based marketing at the group.

Throughout 2006, Diffiniti - which itself evolved out of Carat Interactive in 2004 - continued to inform and supply the rest of the Aegis network. Then, in October, in a bid to boost the network's integrated digital offering, Aegis Media's chief executive, Nigel Sharrocks, decided to move a 25-strong team of Diffiniti's digital experts into Vizeum. Although all still part of Isobar, the reshuffle means Vizeum clients can now be serviced by one agency brand for both their on- and offline media requirements.

2006 was a healthy year of evolution for Diffiniti. Having shifted AOL back into Vizeum at the end of the year, its billings are now derived 100 per cent from its own clients, compared with around 65 per cent for the past year. It all adds up to a real test of new-business acumen in 2007. If Diffiniti can maintain its momentum here - while continuing to grow as it diversifies - it should be a good year.

Score last year: n/a

Score this year: 6

How Diffiniti rates itself: 9

"Diffiniti had its best ever year in 2006. The highlight, of course, was winning the Aviva pitch, which is the largest online media pitch ever conducted in the UK. We have launched a search-engine optimisation division, currently the fastest-growing part of our business, which included a full set of proprietary search tools. We almost doubled in size and didn't lose a client. Overall, a great year."

DRAFTFCB LONDON
Chevrolet
Type of agency: Multi-channel communications
Company ownership: Interpublic subsidiary
Key personnel: Nigel Jones co-president
John Minnec outgoing co-president
Andrew Fraser executive creative director
Simon Calvert executive planning director
Enda McCarthy managing director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £54m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £2m Draft/£47m FCB
Total accounts year end: 42
Accounts won: 7 (biggest: Chevrolet Captiva)
Accounts lost: 1 (Associated Newspapers - Daily Mail)
Number of staff: 243 (+18%)

With its midsummer marriage only months old, it is inevitable that the union of FCB, a classic ad agency network, with Draft, a direct marketing specialist, should pose more questions than answers.

On a global scale, will the merged operation prove greater than the sum of its parts?

In the UK, the question is particularly relevant. Not least because of the recent history of the two operations: Draft was unprofitable; FCB was a mess, its pan-European Chevrolet business one of its few significant accounts.

In management terms, that of FCB has taken the lead. This was confirmed this year when Draft's John Minnec announced his return to the US, leaving FCB's Nigel Jones in sole command.

But other issues remain to be resolved. Can two diverse cultures be united and made to work together towards common goals? What effect will last year's Wal-Mart fiasco (DraftFCB won the £320 million US account only for it to be jettisoned six weeks later) have on morale?

On the positive side, DraftFCB celebrated its nuptials with a brace of modest wins - the global ad assignment for the video games brand Atari and Allied Carpets' £2 million creative account.

And by bringing the Draft and FCB operations in London under one roof (due to happen in the spring), along with the establishment of a single P&L, the merged operation should be able to articulate its offering with greater clarity.

If the agency can truly deliver on its promise of a genuine multi-channel offering, working more closely with its sister media agency Initiative, it will have achieved what nobody has previously managed on such a scale. The ambition is a grand one. A few big wins will show if it can be realised.

Score last year: n/a

Score this year: -

How DraftFCB London rates itself: 6.5

"The integration of Draft and FCB was announced in June. By year end, the two offices had already forged a close working relationship offering a unique multi-channel capability based on a single P&L. The new model has already attracted tremendous client interest and new business (Atari, HP, DreamWorks, MoneyGram). The new management structure was announced in November, and 2007 will see the full launch of DraftFCB London in a new single location."

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).