Top 300 Agencies: School Reports. (4 of 6)

LOWE - 2

Lowe's best hope for 2005 must be that its worst days are over and that it can build on award-winning creative work to reclaim its place as a force in UK advertising.

Last year was annus horribilis in Knightsbridge. Barely a month seemed to pass without the exit of a key account, either because a relationship turned sour or through global issues beyond the agency's control.

Into the former camp goes Unilever Bestfoods' £25 million global Flora account and Diet Coke (£8.7 million), both of which departed as a result of

mutual unhappiness.

Into the latter goes the global Braun assignment, creatively undemanding and highly profitable but always vulnerable to an agency centralisation by its Gillette parent.

Even that loss, though, is dwarfed by HSBC, which aligned its entire £350 million business into WPP, not because of any dissatisfaction with the London agency's creativity, but because network chiefs failed to spot the warning signs.

The account haemorrhage not only led to 80 redundancies but exposed the cultural misfit of the 1999 marriage between the creatively led Lowe and the solid-but-dull Ammirati Puris Lintas. Today, all the extra critical mass has disappeared. The agency is almost exactly the same size as it was five years ago, pre-merger.

For Lowe's revamped management frontline, which includes a newly appointed creative director, Ed Morris, there is much to do. Not least in getting more of Lowe's creative output to match the quality of its signature Stella Artois work. Nevertheless, given the turmoil of 2004, the standard of creative work was more than impressive. Strong work for Nestle, Tesco and Stella abounded.

The agency is improving but fragile morale needs the boost that comes with Lowe's inclusion on more quality pitchlists. It made the final cut on the Weetabix and Homebase pitches, but failed to convert either. Now, with Matthew Bull having vacated the chief executive's chair for a global creative role, Lowe has drafted in Garry Lace to end the new-business famine.

Lace has a mighty job to do in getting his battle-weary troops winning again.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Interpublic subsidiary

Key personnel Paul Weinberger chairman

Garry Lace chief executive

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £198m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £219m

Total accounts year end 34

Accounts gained 4

Accounts lost 4

Number of staff 230

Score last year 2

M&C SAATCHI - 6

Last year's stock market flotation means that M&C Saatchi's quest for new business will have to be pursued with even more than its usual vigour during 2005.

The need to satisfy shareholders will inevitably put more pressure on an agency whose predatory instincts have always been those of a fox in a chicken run but which, by its own admission, were less than impressive over the past 12 months.

Going into the year needing to replace the exiting Matalan and MG Rover, the agency scored some important goals. The £8 million Halfords account arrived after the high-street car and bike specialist split with Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, while Harrods appointed it as part of plans to present itself as more than just the preserve of well-heeled foreign tourists.

There were also more briefs from existing clients, notably the Royal Bank of Scotland, which assigned the agency its £25 million Privilege Insurance account, and COI Communications, through which it won the Home Office's crime reduction programme and the Inland Revenue Child Trust Fund promotion. They all added up to a 5 per cent billings hike, making M&C Saatchi the UK's fifth-biggest billing shop.

However, a couple of major prizes slipped through its grasp. It failed to land the £14 million Muller yoghurt and desserts business or to capitalise on its RBS connection to take the £40 million Direct Line account.

The veteran Jeremy Sinclair, having stepped in to run the creative department after Matt Eastwood's departure for the US, will be aware of a need for greater consistency. While the work for police recruitment has reaped plaudits, the Scottish Courage campaigns continue to disappoint.

This year, the agency will be using its flotation money to fuel its European expansion, with a car account at the top of its wanted list. Expect also to see the group moving into the brand, identity, design and fashion areas.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership AIM listed

Key personnel Moray MacLennan chairman

Tim Duffy chief executive

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £246m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £233m

Total accounts year end 35

Accounts gained 8

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 283

Score last year 5

MCCANN ERICKSON - 4

Expectations of what the McCann Erickson London chairman and chief executive, Rupert Howell, would achieve in 2004 were high, as he entered his first full year in the job of turning the beleaguered outfit round.

His aim is to make the London agency the EMEA hub for global accounts, but to do this he first has to re-establish its status as a strong domestic agency. But with clients running out of the door at an alarming rate and its creative reputation in tatters, it was an unenviable task.

The first significant change of the year was the arrival of Robert Campbell as the executive creative director. Respected and liked in equal measure, Campbell lured two acclaimed veterans of the industry in Frank Lieberman and Mark Reddy as his respective executive head of TV and executive head of art.

Resources have been ploughed back into creative services, which suffered under the previous management. Meanwhile, Damian O'Malley, who joined as the executive head of planning, is rebuilding a dysfunctional planning department.

However, so far there has only been a small improvement in the creative work. New ads for Cornetto and Wall's sausages have benefited from humour and their respective famous advertising ideas - "Just One Cornetto" and the Wall's dog - returned. Though its debut for Ernest Jones was a disappointment.

The appointments of Stephen Whyte as the chief executive and Christian Hinchcliffe as the marketing director completed the eight-strong board to tackle new business and client services. The former replaced Chris Hunton, who quit without a job to go to.

Howell's methods have not proved popular with everyone, and this was illustrated when Bacardi - an £11 million global client - split with the London agency. Other losses included Norwich Union and Glenfidddich.

To Howell's credit, the agency has started winning business, including Signet, the Carbon Trust and the Co-op's membership services. And the year ended with the news that the agency will start working on the Co-op Movement's £17.5 million account in January.

Howell has thrown money at McCann, hiring what must be the most expensive management team in town. 2005 will show whether this was money well spent.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Interpublic subsidiary

Key personnel Rupert Howell president (EMEA)

Stephen Whyte chief executive

Robert Campbell executive creative

director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £305m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £303m

Total accounts year end 301

Accounts gained 57

Accounts lost 15

Number of staff 772

Score last year 2

MEDIA PLANNING GROUP - 5

Over the past couple of years, Media Planning Group's UK agency has been forced to lower its horizons.

In 2003, it lost the Orange planning and buying account and as a result fell down the agency billings league. Realising that it could no longer depend on its patchy international network for business or compete consistently against the big UK agencies for large domestic accounts, MPG has since focused on chasing smaller UK-only business.

Seen in this light, 2004 was a quiet success for MPG. It won accounts from the Conservative Party, Polaroid, Pioneer, a project from Mothercare and Bhs. Its only network-derived win was Air France.

After a bad 2003 for losing existing clients, MPG plugged the leaky bucket last year, not losing any accounts and extending its relationship with TUI by winning the Thomson Fly account.

There were some changes on the personnel side but the core UK team of the chief executive, Marc Mendoza, and the joint managing directors, Marie Oldham and Dominic Stead, were a constant. It was the end of an era, however, when the veteran Bob Offen stepped down from his role as the director of strategy and the head of client services, Andrew Canter, also left a leaner-looking MPG.

MPG lost its senior planner, Rupert Millington, to Vizeum, but hired Naked's head of new-business development, Craig Wills, as its strategic planning director. It produced strong work for Camelot's repositioning and the relaunched Independent.

While MPG moved into a new office in 2004 (Euro RSCG's old Leicester Square location) courtesy of its holding company Havas, its future may depend on more fundamental action from Havas as it looks at various merger and acquisition possibilities to strengthen the MPG network. Failing this, MPG must hold on to its key accounts and continue its steady new-business performance.

Type of agency Media

Company ownership Havas subsidiary

Key personnel Marc Mendoza chief executive

Dominic Stead joint managing

director

Marie Oldham joint managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £83m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £137m

TV billings 39.4%

Press billings 33%

Outdoor billings 6.5%

Radio billings 5.3%

New-media billings 11.2%

Below-the-line billings 0%

Other 4.6%

Total accounts year end 65

Accounts gained 15

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 90

Score last year 3

MEDIACOM - 9

MediaCom was its usual relentless self in 2004, landing new business, keeping hold of its biggest clients and generally picking up where it left off the year before.

Its first task was to bed down the large amount of business it won towards the end of 2003. It successfully integrated business, including Boots, while hitting the new-business trail.

The agency finished second in Campaign's new-business table in 2004, with wins totalling £100 million . New clients included T-Mobile, Sky, EFD, Wella, Prudential Insurance, Rustlers and the Australian Tourist Commission. Doubts over the future of its Volkswagen account have been resolved with a network consolidation into MediaCom.

A minor downside was the loss of £3.7 million in billings from Oracle and eBay.

MediaCom's stable senior management team remained in place, still headed by the chief executive, Stephen Allan. Allan was at pains to play down the impact that WPP's takeover of MediaCom's parent, Grey, will have on the agency's culture and management team - arguing that the agency will be backed by WPP's clout but that little else will change.

Managing growth is an issue for MediaCom. It added close to 100 staff last year, but it seems to have done this successfully. Then in December, it launched a specialist ethnic division called CultureCom.

Last year, Campaign said MediaCom could introduce more "creative sparkle" to its act. There were small signs of this in 2004 with its work for the Metropolitan Police and Volkswagen and the introduction of its affinity ad breaks initiative (bundling related advertisers into one TV ad break) but a small criticism might be that it could generate more of these ideas.

MediaCom sets itself high standards and in 2005 its targets should be developing jaw-dropping pieces of work to go alongside the new-business success.

Type of agency Media

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel Stephen Allan group chief executive

Nick Lawson joint managing director

Jane Ratcliffe joint managing

director

David Kyffin joint managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £715m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £611m

TV billings 24%

Press billings 17%

Outdoor billings 8%

Radio billings 2%

New-media billings 5%

Below-the-line billings 0%

Other 44%

Total accounts year end 223

Accounts gained 23

Accounts lost 3

Number of staff 465

Score last year 7

MEDIAEDGE:CIA - 5

As Rob Norman skips up the steps of the aeroplane en route to his new life in New York, he can look back on his time in charge of the agency with some satisfaction.

After all, two years ago the prospect of running the newly created Mediaedge:cia was considered the biggest hospital pass in town. But now, while MEC is far from firing on all cylinders, 2005 showed that the agency Norman passes on to Tom George is very different from the one he inherited.

The appointment of George was a masterstroke, particularly after the shameful Matt James farrago. The respected George had been overlooked at ZenithOptimedia and was looking for an agency management post of his own, while Norman was clearly getting itchy feet having done some major re-engineering of the battered MEC UK brand.

You may not have noticed it, but Norman has quietly developed a clever positioning for MEC, although this may be driven by a simple recognition that it can't compete with the MindShares or OMDs of this world. MEC now aims to be at the forefront of creating integrated media strategies away from simple media buying, evident by its decision to merge its digital and DM divisions.

MEC's new-business record was average. It won the £10 million Ferrero Rocher account from Initiative, although the joy of this victory was tempered somewhat by the loss of Reebok, its share of Allied British Foods and Haven Holidays. It must have also been deeply frustrating that Heinz perceived MEC's northern European agencies as too weak and split the account with Vizeum.

Nonetheless, much has been achieved. The fact that MEC is getting on to pitches - and converting them - shows how far the agency has come.

With Norman now Stateside, George needs to prove he is up to the job he has wanted for so long of running his own agency. Norman has cooked up quite a compelling recipe and George should have few problems taking MEC a stage further this year.

Type of agency Media

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel Tom George managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £171m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £199m

TV billings 21%

Press billings 21%

Outdoor billings 6%

Radio billings 2%

New-media billings 41.2%

Below-the-line billings 7.2%

Other 1.6%

Total accounts year end 165

Accounts gained 30

Accounts lost 3

Number of staff 208

Score last year 3

MEDIAVEST MANCHESTER - 6

After a blistering 2003, MediaVest Manchester had a solid year during which it restructured, improved its client offering and consolidated its existing business.

Perhaps the high point of the year came when the agency retained the Chupa-Chups and Smint accounts against some exalted opposition, despite the fact that the client had aligned into Carat throughout Europe. The agency then retained £24 million-worth of its £28 million Alliance & Leicester account, only losing out on the press buying. It won assignments from the conservatory manufacturer Planet, Computeach and the Trafford Centre.

However, it did relinquish its place on the roster of the mail-order company Red Caps.

A restructure saw it realign its media buying and strategy execution divisions, which will now operate by medium rather than client, in keeping with the trend set by a handful of London agencies.

The agency also grew its interactive brand MVi and began offering existing clients the use of a state-of-the-art online accountability tool, Netsight.

MediaVest Manchester continues to benefit from a stable and hierarchy-free management team, with the managing partners, Andy Jeal and David Lucas, operating alongside a large group of long-serving board directors.

Jeal seems to have emerged unscathed from a commission scandal in 2003.

So after an excellent 2003 and a solid 2004, the agency starts the new year in good shape. It has declared billings of close to £200 million and is bigger than some of its more famous, London-based rivals, such as Media Planning Group.

It's also one of the only media outfits that can offer clients access to a huge global network, yet simultaneously boast that it is still owner-operated, with 80 per cent of its shares held by staff in the Manchester office. On this foundation, it could well spring a few surprises in 2005.

Type of agency Media

Company ownership Minority-owned by Publicis

Key personnel David Lucas managing partner

Andy Jeal managing partner

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £108m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £105m

TV billings 23%

Press billings 56%

Outdoor billings 3%

Radio billings 4%

New-media billings 10%

Below-the-line billings 3%

Other 1%

Total accounts year end 160

Accounts gained 4

Accounts lost 2

Number of staff 158

Score last year N/A

MICHAELIDES & BEDNASH - 6

George Michaelides and Graham Bednash will be delighted to see the barriers have been torn down in this year's Top 300, enabling their agency to be included alongside its creative peers. Never comfortable with the media agency tag, Michaelides & Bednash continues to occupy its interesting niche founded on the concept of "brand activation".

That said, the sort of brands that M&B has been enlisted to activate recently are surely different from the ones the agency envisaged working with when it launched a decade ago. Indeed, the appeal of its niche has become increasingly mainstream.

M&B produced acclaimed work on existing clients in 2004 and continued to consolidate its place on the Unilever roster. The agency landed an additional £15 million pan-European assignment for Knorr with a brief to find new ways for the brand to connect with audiences. M&B continued to expand in the FMCG arena with a further £3 million brief from GlaxoSmithKline for the launch of Aquafresh Zones.

Although both of these wins indicate there is a huge potential market among FMCG giants for brand activation specialists, M&B continued to pitch, albeit less successfully, for more traditional domestic media briefs such as O2 and a communications planning task from TK Maxx.

Brand activation may sound like a conveniently indistinct and unaccountable mast for M&B to pin its colours to, but the agency continued to produce effective work, particularly for its flagship Channel 4 client with the launch of Four magazine and a striking campaign promoting the arrival of The Simpsons to the channel from BBC2.

M&B can look back on 2004 with some pride as its appeal has become more widespread without compromising its heritage. As to the future, the agency will need to strike a balance among its expanding portfolio of clients to pre-empt any criticism that it is just becoming an FMCG sales promotion adjunct.

Type of agency Communications planning

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel Graham Bednash managing partner

George Michaelides managing partner

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 n/a

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 n/a

Total accounts year end 21

Accounts gained 3

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 18

Score last year 6

MILES CALCRAFT BRIGINSHAW DUFFY - 7

Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy completed its fifth year of trading in rude health.

A strong new-business performance throughout 2004 demonstrated that the agency still has the energy and enthusiasm of a start-up.

Its Metropolitan Police and Greene King wins hit the headlines last January.

One month later, the agency had picked up Thomson Local. In May it snatched the £8 million Tetley account before pitching unsuccessfully for the Burger King business.

But MCBD's greatest triumph came at the end of the year, when it won Debenhams' £16.5 million account. It was an achievement on two levels.

First, it is the kind of mainstream account the agency needed in order to consolidate its standing in the London market. Second, MCBD competed against the toughest competition, beating Clemmow Hornby Inge, Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners and WCRS.

Creatively, however, the agency hit both highs and lows. Its Alan Whicker work for Travelocity was one of the year's better campaigns, while its strong Metropolitan Police campaign against drug abuse filled many column inches. But then there was MCBD's Tetley debut, one of the year's howlers, while work for Thomson Local and Bells lacked depth.

Meanwhile, the agency set up HOW with the creative veterans Ken Hoggins and Chris O'Shea. The benefits may be shortlived, however. Although it enabled MCBD to win the Waitrose account in the short term, the retailer's relationship with CHI poses a threat.

The Amplified joint venture with Martin Bowley, the former Carlton Sales chief executive, has better long-term potential, however. It will give the agency and its clients insight to the growing areas of digital and content provision.

MCBD has worked hard to achieve consistent growth for the past five years and there should be more of the same this year. The only area of concern is the creative department, which would benefit from young hiring, and higher standards.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel Jeremy Miles chairman

Helen Calcraft managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £54m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £41m

Total accounts year end 24

Accounts gained 6

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 55

Score last year 6

MINDSHARE - 9

MindShare, under the control of Kelly Clark, was elected Campaign's Media Agency of the Year for the second year running in 2004. It is obvious to see why, given the agency's astonishing new-business prowess and its ability to produce ground-breaking and award-winning media strategies.

Victory in the £206 million Unilever pitch secured MindShare's position as the UK's biggest media agency by some way and followed wins for HSBC, the Irish Tourist Board, the entire Nestle business and the Homebase media planning task. It is to the credit of MindShare's entire team that not one client left the agency in 2005, given the amount of work involved in pitching for these new accounts.

But size isn't everything - it's what you do with it that counts. So, as well as being the biggest, MindShare has constantly striven to be the best.

Its House of Media proposition, upon which much work was produced in 2003, continued to develop and grow, evident in MindShare's success in putting together content deals for clients such as Nike, Ford and Nestle.

The Nike campaign was a worthy winner of the Campaign of the Year at the Campaign Media Awards. MindShare is already ahead of the game with branded content in the US and, unless its rivals act quickly, it could soon be doing the same here.

Much of this success must come down to the senior managers the capable Clark has assembled around him, including Nick Theakstone, who took on the new role of managing director of GroupM Trading, the biggest negotiation point in the UK.

With so much new business - and a client of the size and shape of Unilever arriving through the doors - it is essential that existing clients are not neglected to make way for the demanding, housewife-buying behemoth.

They should be OK, judging on past performance, and wouldn't three consecutive Media Agency of the Year gongs be something to aim for?

Type of agency Media

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel Kelly Clark chief executive

Jed Glanvill managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £577m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £557m

TV billings 53%

Press billings 22%

Outdoor billings 9%

Radio billings 5%

New-media billings 4%

Below-the-line billings 2%

Other 5%

Total accounts year end 40

Accounts gained 7

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 335

Score last year 6

MOTHER - 6

Improving on 2003's undisputed conquest of the year - the £90 million Boots account - would always be a near-impossible task for Mother. No new-business win came remotely close to rivalling it in 2004. Indeed, the agency's new-business activity was markedly subdued. Mother was noticeably absent from all the year's big-billing pitchlists and its strike rate for those it did take part in was unimpressive.

The RAF, Mr Kipling and Emaar Properties all slipped through the net and Magic FM defected to St Luke's.

The clients effectively shepherded into the Mother fold were hardly established brand names. The little-known Hong Kong luxury department store Lane Crawford, SAB Miller, which has yet to break the market in the UK, and Tiger Telematics' Gizmondo did not make the agency the envy of its rivals.

Understandably, the bulk of the agency's attention turned to juggling the demands of Boots and Orange, with varying degrees of success. Its cinema work for Orange was one of the year's highlights, while its Harry Hill campaign for Boots fell flat.

On the positive side, Coca-Cola, one of the world's most influential brands, reaffirmed its faith in Mother, choosing the agency as the only independent to compete in its inter-roster review.

Furthermore, the return of the highly acclaimed Argentinian creative Carlos Bayala, with a view to launching a South American office, promises to bolster the Mother family unit.

In 2005, Mother must demonstrate that it can still produce cutting-edge creative work and win pitches while handling demanding establishment brands such as Boots, Orange, Coca-Cola and Unilever.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel Stef Calcraft partner

Robert Saville partner

Andy Medd partner

Mark Waites partner

Matthew Clark partner

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £108m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £99m

Total accounts year end 25

Accounts gained 7

Accounts lost 2

Number of staff 105

Score last year 8

MUSTOES - 4

After an unexceptional 2003, Mustoes went some way towards picking itself up in 2004, reappearing on the new-business scene and launching multimillion-pound campaigns.

However, the agency still has a long way to go before it can be regarded as a major player. Despite appearing on some credible pitchlists, the only notable win of seven in 2004 was a Unilever project for Cif, for which it pitched against Lowe.

Smaller victories included the regional brewer Everards, the books chain Ottakar's and the task to launch H Bauer's weekly men's magazine, Cut.

Losing the £1.5 million LG Electronics account as a result of the company's decision to realign its advertising globally made the net haul unspectacular.

But new business is an area the agency is keen to address and it created the role of marketing director towards the end of the year. Allan Dutton was hired from Quiet Storm and tasked with spearheading Mustoes' new-business drive. There will be considerable pressure on Dutton - not least from Mustoes' Japanese part-owner, Hakuhodo - to boost the somewhat lacklustre image of the agency, put its name on more high-profile pitchlists and start winning more substantial pieces of business.

The agency has been busy creatively with the launch of its £15 million animated Kia campaign and new work for Lloyds Pharmacy, Start-rite and Butlins. Mustoes needs to act fast to capitalise on the profile such campaigns could lend it. In the mean time, however, it is languishing in no-man's land.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Minority-owned by Hakuhodo

Key personnel Nick Mustoe chief executive

Mick Mahoney joint creative director

Andy Amadeo joint creative director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £34m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £29m

Total accounts year end 25

Accounts gained 7

Accounts lost 1

Number of staff 57

Score last year N/A

NAKED COMMUNICATIONS - 7

The media equivalent of Tony Blair on one of his overseas jaunts, Naked reckons it can teach Johnny Foreigner a trick or two.

In 2004, it exported its own brand of communications expertise to Australia - where it launched a majority-owned subsidiary - and continued to build its businesses in Amsterdam and the Nordic region.

Naked's vision, expressed in an ambitious statement, is: "To become the acknowledged leader in creating communication solutions globally." Its critics may argue that this is vain and ridiculous, but Naked's progress in Australia (where it has already landed a sizeable Coca-Cola planning task) suggests otherwise. Whether the Naked founders have the hard-nosed business nous to grow these overseas operations into thriving companies over the long term is another matter.

The agency has also been pursuing its expansionist vision back on home turf. "Joint venture" seems to be its mantra and its Naked Inside co-operation with Clemmow Hornby Inge had some notable new-business success (mainly with CHI clients such as the Telegraph Group and Carphone Warehouse). Ventures with Fallon and WCRS, called Happen at Fallon and Element respectively, were launched this year, signs that Naked can see the benefits of working closely with advertising agencies.

But its Naked Ambition spin-off collapsed after Grey backed out of taking a minority stake and Matt James, the founder of the venture, left after the debacle.

Nevertheless, Naked claimed a 35 per cent increase in income (with 78 per cent of this retained). UK wins were less sizeable than in 2003 but included the planning task for DirectGov, through COI Communications, and TK Maxx.

Naked continued to win awards over the year. Its Lapdance Island activity for E4 was successful at the Campaign Media Awards, but its work in general achieved a lower profile than in recent years.

Naked is well into its fifth year and it will be interesting to see how far the company can stretch its joint-venture model in the UK - and open new offices abroad - without spreading its founders Will Collin, John Harlow and Jon Wilkins too thin.

Type of agency Communications planning

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel John Harlow founder

Jon Wilkins founder

Will Collin founder

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 n/a

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 n/a

Total accounts year end 61

Accounts gained 27

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 46

Score last year 9

OGILVY & MATHER - 4

It has been a few years since Ogilvy & Mather made a big splash in the market and 2004 was no different - apart for the Dove campaign, which produced some of the most eye-catching and successful billboard ads of the year. The "real women" campaign, which featured "normal" people instead of stick-thin models, was unquestionably the year's creative climax for O&M.

Elsewhere - on Ford, Castrol and Lucozade - the reel began to show signs of improvement as the executive creative director, Malcolm Poynton, completed his first full year in the hot seat. The jury is still out on whether he has what it takes to oversee a complete turnaround.

James Sinclair quit his post at the helm of Ford's creative output and Richard Russell joined from Wieden & Kennedy as a creative partner.

New-business performance was an area for concern, as it had been in 2003.

Success last year was restricted to small-scale victories on Ocado, Cancer Research, Tilda Rice and Nutricia globally.

O&M missed out on the higher-profile accounts that would once have been its mainstay: Direct Line, Burger King and Flora all opted for more creative shops.

The agency gave away the chance to launch Unilever's low-carb range in the UK and failed to secure the Direct Line business, despite being given a second chance.

Ogilvy & Mather appears to have lost its once strong domestic presence, now seeming more like a satellite of the network's successful New York operation. It needs to start building a local personality in 2005 and put itself back on the creative and new-business maps.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel Mike Walsh chairman

Paul Jackson chief executive

Malcolm Poynton executive creative

director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £235m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £253m

Total accounts year end 45

Accounts gained 6

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 300

Score last year 3

OGILVYONE - 7

After a series of extremely ordinary years, OgilvyOne ended 2004 as direct marketing's unlikely star performer in terms of new business.

It pulled in billings worth a massive £42 million, more than half of which came from HBOS Retail, the account it won after a ten-month pitch process involving Rapier, MRM and Publicis Dialog.

The agency started the year by pinching the Cancer Research acquisition business from WWAV Rapp Collins. It followed this by winning the Mothercare direct account and landing Unilever's low-carb food range, Carb Options.

OgilvyOne was appointed to implement pan-European customer relationship management programmes for Sunsilk, Knorr and Nestle and benefited from Kraft's realignment out of Young & Rubicam and into Ogilvy & Mather. Its only loss - BP Retail - came near the start of the year.

Having presided over such a good year,the chairman, Paul O'Donnell, enters 2005 in the new role of chairman of OgilvyOne Europe. Last November, he announced a succession plan in which Mike Dodds and Guy Lambert became joint managing directors and Rory Sutherland was promoted to vice-chairman.

The restructure moves Sutherland even further away from the daily running of the creative department and gives the creative director, Cordell Burke, a freer hand.

The agency produced some decent work (its pack for Comfort was a creative highlight), won a smattering of largely results-based awards and kept most of its clients happy. Burke may not yet have recreated OgilvyOne's golden age but the industry has changed a lot since then, so perhaps it is time to stop judging the modern agency by the standards of its illustrious past.

OgilvyOne is one of a handful of large direct agencies that really struggled during the recent advertising recession. In 2004, inspired by a healthier new-business landscape and the freeing up of client budgets, the agency finally reminded the industry that it is still a force to be reckoned with.

Type of agency Direct marketing

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel Paul O'Donnell chairman (Europe)

Rory Sutherland vice-chairman and

creative director

Mike Dodds joint managing director

Guy Lambert joint managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 n/a

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 n/a

Total accounts year end 15

Accounts gained 6

Accounts lost 1

Number of staff 250

Score last year 4

OMD - 6

Events at OMD Group were more convoluted in 2004 than the plot of Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep. Whether the company's new chief executive, Nick Manning, emerges from the confusion as resplendent as Philip Marlowe, Chandler's rough-diamond private detective, should become clear during 2005.

Manning, formerly the chief executive of Manning Gottlieb OMD, was appointed to head the UK group in March. The plan was to provide greater links between Manning Gottlieb and its larger sister agency, OMD UK, while stopping short of a full merger.

Then came the twists and turns. Paul Taylor, OMD UK's long-serving chief executive, took more of a back-seat role. A group board, comprising the leadership of both agencies, was then formed. This was followed by the creation of OPera, an Omnicom buying unit, in partnership with PHD.

Paddington-based OMD UK had an up-and-down year in terms of new business, bringing in £18 million from Emap Consumer Media's Grazia magazine launch, Express Shopping Channel, Harper Collins and Onken. It lost close to £16 million from the departure of South Africa Tourism, Halfords and Nestle petfoods.

OMD UK's work was of a good standard - its Hasbro Action Man activity won awards and its campaigns for Nestle and Vodafone also caught the eye.

There was less stability at MG OMD. Alison Wright, its managing director, left the agency in October. This followed the agency's loss of its £19 million More Than business as well as Safeway and NPower. Large wins for MG OMD were hard to come by but it picked up 15 accounts, including Conde Nast's Easy Living, Teacher Training Agency, Reebok and Friends Reunited.

Work for Eurostar, Virgin Trains and the AA all won awards.

Manning Gottlieb's new management triumvirate of Robert Ffitch, Neil Hurman and Phil Nunn decided not to repitch for the AA, which called a review late in the year. Questions about how well MG OMD was fitting into the OPera structure were raised internally as rumours of TV trading issues abounded.

MG OMD needs to stop losing clients to return to top form in 2005. OPera's glitches should also be ironed out and the fruits of group co-operation made tangible to new and established clients.

Type of agency Media

Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary

Key personnel Nick Manning group chief executive

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £476m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £427m

TV billings 57%

Press billings 24%

Outdoor billings 8%

Radio billings 9%

New-media billings 0%

Below-the-line billings 0%

Other 2%

Total accounts year end 182

Accounts gained 50

Accounts lost 6

Number of staff 306

Score last year 6

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