Top 300 Agencies: School Reports. (Part 4 of 5)


Type of agency Communications planning Company ownership Private company Key personnel George Michaelides managing partner Graham Bednash managing partner Paul O'Neill partner Jason Gonsalves partner Total accounts year end 26 Accounts won 5 (biggest: More4) Accounts lost 0 TV 33% Press 17% Out of home 18% Radio 7% Below the line 19% Other 6% Number of staff 15

Michaelides & Bednash, the granddaddy of the communications planning sector, continues to blur the lines between media and creative and remains one of the most interesting propositions in the media space.

Rumours circulated in 2005 that it might sell up to a larger operator.

But, for the time being, the company remains independent.

The agency specialises in offering clients creative capabilities as well as the usual nuts-and-bolts communications planning services. M&B has been criticised in the past for the narrow width of its client list - its reliance on Channel 4 and Unilever - and little seemed to change in 2005.

A brief from the film and cinema industry to increase cinema attendance was not enough to counter this criticism.

On the Unilever front, the agency further consolidated its place on the roster with wins for the washing powder brand Omo and Dove.

The agency also won a pan-European brief from Birds Eye Fish Fingers.

Channel 4 continues to be the agency's standout client. M&B strengthened its relationship with the broadcaster by beating Naked to the communications strategy account for More4. M&B also launched the channel's hit drama Lost and produced some acclaimed creative work for Jamie's School Dinners.

The agency should take pride in Channel 4's recent boast that 2005 was its most successful year, creatively and commercially.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 6

How M&B rates itself: 8

"This was a year of diversity for M&B, including full-service campaigns, communications planning and branded content. Wins included Birds Eye and other Unilever projects, Johnson & Johnson and AIM (the film and cinema marketing body), while the much talked-about launch of More4 expanded M&B's role with Channel 4, Campaign's Advertiser of the Year."


Type of agency Advertising Company ownership 51% owned by Cossette Communications Group Key personnel Jeremy Miles chairman Helen Calcraft managing director Paul Briginshaw creative director Malcolm Duffy creative director Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £75m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £55m Total accounts year end 20 Accounts won 5 (biggest: Subaru) Accounts lost 1 (Business Link) Number of staff 77

Now into its sixth year, the graph charting Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy's success continues resolutely on its upward path.

The agency finished 2005 in high spirits. It was a very successful year for new business, creativity and, of course, a financial bonanza for the founding partners.

The four were made millionaires overnight with the sale of a 51 per cent stake to the Canadian holding company, Cossette Communication Group.

The sale, worth £7.8 million, is part of a six-year, three-stage deal that gives Cossette the option to increase its stake to 75 per cent in three years.

But there was precious little time to count the money. A string of new-business wins, including Blacks and Millets (£5 million), Subaru (£7 million), Jet Airways (£5 million) and HM Treasury stakeholder pensions (£4 million) ensured the agency was busier than ever. And the merger with HOW late in the year brought with it the Waitrose account.

The only loss of the year was the £1 million Business Link account, but the future of the £3.5 million Travelocity business is uncertain after its parent, Sabre Holdings, bought and indicated a desire to combine the accounts.

Losing Travelocity would be a blow, less in financial terms than in creative.

MCBD was producing strong creative work for the client, an accomplishment acknowledged in December's IPA Effectiveness Awards, where it netted the Grand Prix and was named the Effectiveness Agency of the Year for smaller agencies.

That said, the MCBD creative department is in rude health following the April signing of Adam Chiappe and Matthew Saunby from Bartle Bogle Hegarty, and other plaudits look certain to follow in 2006.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 8

How MCBD rates itself: 8

"Highlights: we gained £32 million of new business, including Waitrose, Subaru, Jet Airways and the COI Treasury stakeholder pensions. We won a D&AD silver; two Campaign Poster silvers; bronze at Cannes; Campaign Direct gold plus two silvers; two Campaign Press silvers; Creative Circle gold; IPA Effectiveness Agency of the Year; Sunday Times seventh-best small company in UK - and we sealed the Cossette deal."


Type of agency Media Company ownership WPP subsidiary Key personnel Jed Glanvill chief executive Nick Theakstone investment director Sandra Collins director of new business and marketing Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £762m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £577m Total accounts year end 40 Accounts won 8 (biggest: News International) Accounts lost 3 (biggest: Gillette) TV 55% Press 21% Out of home 9% Radio 5% Below the line 4% Other 6% Number of staff 450 (including MindShare Worldwide team)

MindShare's year was solid rather than spectacular as it consolidated following 2004's monumental Unilever win. While new business was not as impressive as it was in 2004, the agency still made many big pitchlists and won Cereal Partners and News International.

The agency's chief executive, Kelly Clark, moved to a wider role running WPP's Group M across Europe. Clark was replaced by Jed Glanvill, whose task is now to keep up the good work.

MindShare got tough with media owners in 2005, locking horns with Channel 4 while negotiating a new airtime deal on behalf of Unilever in April.

To the agency's credit, it also stood its ground with the Daily Mail when the newspaper increased its rates despite losing circulation.

MindShare's boldest move came when it jeopardised its £60 million Kellogg account by bringing in Nestle's Cereal Partners business (won in 2004).

It has held on to both accounts. Similarly, MindShare shifted Express Newspapers to MediaCom, enabling the agency to pitch successfully for News International's £30 million business. ITV came in mid-year and the pan-European Motorola business was won at the end of 2005. On the negative side, the agency said goodbye to the not insignificant AA and Abbey National accounts.

The agency's "real women" campaign for Dove and "go nocturnal" for Nike Run London triumphed at the Campaign Media Awards. But, with Unilever settled, it would be good to see MindShare's normally high creative standards raised in 2006.

Score last year: 9

Score this year: 7

How MindShare rates itself: 8

"MindShare bedded in Unilever and Nestle and retained the £60 million Kellogg account after a pitch, while producing award-winning work for Dove, Nike and Persil. Billings increased by 30 per cent, moving us to number two in the rankings (number five in 2004). New business, including News International, Motorola and ITV, amounted to £85 million."


Type of agency Digital full service Company ownership Digitas subsidiary Key personnel Martin Reidy president Norm Johnston managing director, Europe Dani Nadel managing director, East Brian Powley managing director, West Declared income n/s Accounts won 8 Accounts lost 0 Creative n/s Media planning and buying n/s Web design/build n/s Consultancy n/s Biggest-spending clients Ericsson, General Motors Europe, HP Number of staff 100 (UK only)

For an agency known to rely on its US-based network to bring in global accounts, Modem Media UK had a stellar new-business year. The highlight of the year was undoubtedly the hotly contested Lloyds TSB digital pitch, in which Modem capitalised on its full-service credentials by winning the online creative, media planning and buying accounts for the bank. Similarly, its ability to offer media and creative under one roof helped it land a place on the BBC's three-strong digital marketing roster.

Modem's strength in search proved its worth later in the year, when HP, an existing network client, consolidated its £10 million European search business into the agency after a competitive pitch.

Extra work from local and global clients meant staff numbers increased by 20 in 2005 to more than 100, and the network bolstered its European offering by opening an office in Germany.

The London office produced one highly awarded piece of work in 2005: the "interviews from hell" viral for the headhunter Kendall Tarrant, which picked up a bronze at Cannes, a Campaign Digital award and two silvers at Epica.

That aside, Modem's UK creative effort was uninspiring - although the agency is not helped by its overwhelmingly corporate global client list.

Local creative output is an area that needs work if Modem is to convert more of its appearances on big pitchlists into new business. A couple of creatively led UK account wins would be the right way for the agency to begin 2006.

Score last year: n/a

Score this year: 7

How Modem Media rates itself: 9

"M - major wins (Lloyds, BBC) O - obsessive commitment D - digital experts E - energy M - merged Digitas/Modem Media M - marquee clients: Ericsson, General Motors, HP, Royal Bank of Scotland E - experience (1987) D - distinction in the industry I - innovation A - awards winner (41/2005)."


Type of agency Advertising Company ownership Private company Key personnel Stef Calcraft partner Matthew Clark partner Andy Medd partner Robert Saville partner Mark Waites partner Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £141m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £108m Total accounts year end 19 Accounts won 10 (biggest: Fanta) Accounts lost 0 Number of staff 125

Another very busy creative year for advertising's favourite iconoclast.

Even by Mother's exacting standards, the quality of work leaving the Biscuit Building was good.

2005 saw strong campaigns for Orange (both on TV and in the cinema), Boots, Coca-Cola and Egg Money Card all jostling for position at the top of the house reel.

To a certain extent, the creative dynamo worked at the expense of the new-business machine. Account wins were limited to awards from existing clients rather than conversions at any large pitches. Still, the agency defied its sceptics and built healthy relationships with Boots and Orange.

The departure of Will Orr and Claire Dobbie left new business floundering.

As a result, Mother's new-business record for 2005 was dominated by Coca-Cola, with the wins of Coca-Cola football (£5 million), Fanta Z (£3 million) and Fanta (£8 million). The £3 million Home Choice account also came in.

The arrival of Jonathan Mildenhall as the strategy director, however, should lend stability to new business.

Whether the creative department will fare well this year is open to question.

The departures of Caroline Pay to Bartle Bogle Hegarty and of Yan Elliott and Luke Williamson to WCRS as its joint creative directors were keenly felt losses by the agency, and ones that Robert Saville and Mark Waites will be looking to move quickly this year to replace them.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 7

How Mother rates itself: 8

"2005 work highlights: Egg 'guinea pigs'; Orange 'New York'; 'Rio' and 'dance'; Miller 'downhill' and 'peel away'; Fanta Z 'spit'; Boots No7 'full impact' and 'stay perfect'; Boots relaunch 'trust Boots'; Frank 'irritating kid'; Orange Gold, Coke Football 'the band' and the Xfm posters among others. Because only the work counts."


Type of agency Advertising Company ownership Part-owned by Hakuhodo Key personnel Nick Mustoe chairman Ben Simonds-Gooding managing director Mick Mahoney executive creative director Andrew Levy planning partner Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £34m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £37m Total accounts year end 19 Accounts won 4 (biggest: Coca-Cola) Accounts lost 1 (biggest: HP Sauce) Number of staff 62

In 2005, Mustoes competed against respected agencies on some credible pitches, among them, but suffered a poor conversion rate.

Its wins included the Energy Savings Trust account and the online poker company PokerStars. But together these still failed to plug the £6 million gap left by HP Foods' departure in April.

The HP Foods business was the agency's first major loss in several years and it walked out of the door citing creative differences.

To bolster its senior management the agency hired its first managing director - Ben Simonds-Gooding, an account director from Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam. He was given the responsibility of running the new-business department after the departure of Allan Dutton, the marketing director hired in 2004.

There were also changes in the creative department and Andy Amadeo, Mustoes' joint executive creative director, left the agency after three-and-a-half years. His creative partner, Mick Mahoney, took over as sole creative head.

Mustoes' creative output in 2005 was lower profile than in 2004. A continuation of the animated Kia ads and its first EST work were the only real campaigns of note. Both were solid but unlikely to win any awards.

Mustoes is still stuck in no-man's land but there is an impression that it is trying hard to get back on track. Last year it re-shaped its management line-up and showed that it could get on some attractive pitchlists. This year, it has got off to a good start with a place on Coca-Cola's roster.

Score last year: 4

Score this year: 4

How Mustoes rates itself: 6

"Overall: solid with an exceptional end to the year. The work was consistently strong and new business was gained which included the Energy Savings Trust, the National Gallery and Coca-Cola. We're looking forward to 2006."


Type of agency Communications planning Company ownership Private company Key personnel Will Collin founding partner Jon Wilkins founding partner John Harlow founding partner Ivan Pollard partner Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 n/a Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 n/a Total accounts year end 63 Accounts won 24 Accounts lost 1 Number of staff 55

The Naked name might not attract the buzz it did two years ago but there's no doubting that the company is still growing. Expanded London offices, international launches and an enlarged management team all point to the Naked Communications cottage industry assuming larger proportions.

The bolstered management team included the non-executive chairman, Nigel Long, taking a more active role and the appointment of Ingram's Ivan Pollard as the fourth partner.

In December, Naked finally announced details of its New York launch - hiring the heavyweight team of The Media Kitchen's Paul Woolmington and Ogilvy & Mather's senior partner MT Carney to lead the operation. But it wasn't all good news on the international front. Simon Summerscales, who helped Naked launch in Paris, left the agency to launch a division for Wieden & Kennedy.

There was a blow for its venture with WCRS, Element Communications, when it lost the BMW and Mini planning business to PHD Group and then lost its founder Yusuf Chuku to the latest communications planning start-up, Staufenberger, Smith & Butte.

New business included a Sony project to develop a broad communications strategy across its products and Nike appointing the company to work on its iD range. There was the capture of the Financial Services Authority strategy brief and a UK strategy brief for Ikea to work alongside the creative agency. The icing on the cake was landing a global brief from Coca-Cola to manage non-traditional media globally.

On the downside, there was six months of wasted effort on a Lloyds TSB pitch, which was called off at the last minute, and the move of Orange's media planning business into Initiative. The agency also lost Campbell's planning to ZenithOptimedia.

Overall, though, Naked's London hub is thriving and diversification into international markets is paying dividends. Question-marks might linger over Naked's partners being stretched too thinly, but they will hope that the arrival of Pollard and the international talent that they have hired will fuel growth in 2006.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 7

How Naked rates itself: 8

"2005 was the year Naked came of age, adding offices in New York and Paris. By hiring Ivan Pollard it further underlined its strategic credentials and bolstered management capability for the growing Naked Group and its global clients. Award-winning work continued, for example for Orange with the Paper Film Festival."


Type of agency Advertising Company ownership Private company Key personnel Bruce Crouch joint executive creative director Paul Shearer joint executive creative director Andy Bird head of art and design Paul Adrian general manager, new business Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £13m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £11m (Soul) Total accounts year end 12 Accounts won 4 (biggest: Nike) Accounts lost 0 Number of staff 45

Nitro's acquisition of Soul in April 2005 was designed to provide the company with the solid London base it needs to build a credible network. The deal led to the departure of two of Soul's founders: Kevin Brown and Duncan Bird. The creative founders Bruce Crouch and Andy Bird remained at the merged shop leaving the management team, which also includes the creative director, Paul Shearer, very creative top-heavy.

Going forward, Nitro needs to bolster its strategic credentials.

Nevertheless, the team proved capable of running a functioning new-business department. Shearer, who previously worked at Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam on Nike, did well to mobilise his contacts with this client, helping Nitro to snatch a pan-European project from his former agency.

Nitro's modus operandi, which is to focus on large, blue-chip clients, may be in the process of changing. It picked up a handful of smaller accounts, including the drink brand WKD, and it was quiet on the big pitchlists.

The Unilever project that it launched with in 2004 hasn't materialised.

The new agency lost Soul's Fanta business, but it remains on the Coca-Cola roster with Powerade.

Nitro did not create a lot of memorable work in 2005. Its Nike ad was solid, if uninspiring, and work for the Tresemme haircare brand will not be troubling any juries. However, its One London campaign for the Greater London Authority struck the right balance.

The acquisition of the direct marketing agency River Communications indicated Nitro's intent to develop a full-service offering; a sensible initiative for any agency with growth ambitions.

Its newness to the market means Nitro has yet to carve itself a clear positioning in London. In 2006, it needs to define what it stands for.

Score last year: n/a

Score this year: n/a

How Nitro rates itself: too early to call

"Nitro opened its London office as a new-generation integrated agency with the acquisition of Soul Advertising and River, a direct marketing agency. Immediately pitched and won Nike pan-European launch of Nike Pro. Additional wins included Powerade, WKD and Winterthur. Increased business with current clients Oxy and Drambuie. 2006 will see Nitro move to new offices, announce a new head of planning and purchase a digital agency."


Type of agency Advertising Company ownership WPP subsidiary Key personnel Gary Leih chairman Malcolm Poynton executive creative director Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £266m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £241m Total accounts year end 27 Accounts won 5 (biggest: Kraft confectionery) Accounts lost 0 Number of staff 275

Based miles from Soho among the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, Ogilvy & Mather is often seen as an agency in the wilderness. This perception seems to have become ingrained in its psyche, generating a feeling of stagnation.

This was exacerbated throughout 2005 by O&M's inability to convert pitches into tangible new business.

For a top-ten agency to make the shortlists for clients including easyJet, Adecco, the Royal National Institute for the Blind and the longlist for British Airways, but fail to convert any of them is a serious worry. Of the business it did pick up - accounts such as Morgan Stanley and BP Fuels - most of them came without a pitch.

However, this is not to say that the business is not profitable and successful.

With global wins such as Pilsner Urquell, more business coming from Unilever and not a single account loss to speak of, the agency consistently hits its targets and profit forecasts, and 2005 was no exception. But any growth was from the network, not from domestic efforts.

The agency can take heart from its ability to get on to pitchlists but needs its creative director, Neil Dawson, hired from TBWA this year, and executive creative director, Malcolm Poynton, to start radically improving the standard of creative work. A poster for Harrods, hailed by the readers of Campaign as the best poster ad of 2005, was a rare gem to emerge from the O&M creative department.

The new chairman, Gary Leih, is attempting to refresh and relaunch the agency in 2006, including a radical management restructure. Leih needs to inject personality and energy into Ogilvy, changing it from the London outpost of a successful network into a London agency in its own right.

Score last year: 4

Score this year: 4

How O&M rates itself: 7

"Gary Leih joined as the chairman. Richard Russell, Neil Dawson and Greg Burke joined, adding senior creative muscle. We discovered the vast potential of the Ogilvy Group. Dove is the most talked-about communications campaign in the world. We won the Euro Effies Grand Prix and press Grand Prix at London International."


Type of agency Direct marketing Company ownership WPP subsidiary Key personnel Paul O'Donnell chairman, EMEA Mike Dodds business partner Guy Lambert business partner Rory Sutherland vice-chairman Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 n/a Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 n/a Total accounts year end 21 Accounts won 7 (biggest: Yahoo!) Accounts lost 0 Number of staff 200

Three years ago, the monolithic OgilvyOne was in a spot of trouble.

It had lost its mammoth TV Licensing account and its interactive business had lost £40 million in billings as a result of the dotcom crash.

Its management team, led by the executive creative director, Rory Sutherland, and the chairman, Paul O'Donnell, set about a turnaround of the business, which began to bear fruit in 2005.

The agency started the year with the capture of the £10 million HBoS business after a pitch against Rapier. This was a clear sign that the agency was strong enough to start winning the domestic pitches that are a clear sign of good health. It proved this was no one-off by adding the direct marketing business for the Nectar American Express card; Tottenham Hotspur's corporate direct marketing account; and a relationship marketing brief from Kimberly-Clark.

It won 11 gongs at the Direct Marketing Association Awards including four golds, and a gold at Cannes for its work for Cancer Research UK, proving that its creative department is working well under the day-to-day guidance of Cordell Burke and Colin Nimick.

This performance has resulted in a buoyant agency, buzzing from its success.

However, it has to make sure it isn't distracted or handicapped when it moves closer to its sibling networks during the creation of the Ogilvy UK Group this year.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 7

How OgilvyOne rates itself: 8

"Few agencies manage to be international and locally relevant. Fewer handle highly complex assignments and manage to win numerous awards in the process - right across their client base, covering business to business and business to consumer. Fewer still are doing this on- and off-line - with scale and impact. We are."


Type of agency Media Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary Key personnel Nick Manning chief executive (OMD) Steve Williams managing director (OMD UK) Robert Ffitch managing director (MG OMD) Peter Magnani managing director (OMD International) Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 (group) £725m Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 (OMD UK) £473m Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 (MG OMD) £252m Total accounts year end 196 Accounts won 30 (biggest: Aviva) Accounts lost 4 (biggest: COI radio) TV 53% Press 20% Out of home 11% Radio 7% Below the line 0% Other 9% Number of staff 361

After spending 2004 restructuring around a group positioning, it was time for the OMD agencies, OMD UK and Manning Gottlieb OMD, to get motoring. At one point in 2005, however, it looked as if it would be a year of frustration. Eventually, some big wins - Aviva, the owner of the RAC, moved its £64 million business into OMD UK and Sara Lee switched to Manning Gottlieb - contributed to a fine flurry in the last quarter.

Earlier in the year, Manning Gottlieb had won the consolidated Sony BMG business after a pitch against Vizeum. However, the AA account moved to PHD.

In addition to Aviva, OMD UK won Carlsberg and Kia following pan-European reviews and also landed the Etihad airline business. Perhaps most importantly, it retained the £64 million Peugeot-Citroen business after a hard-fought pitch.

Major losses were the £21 million COI radio account to Starcom and the £7 million Express Newspapers business to MindShare.

Nick Manning, the OMD chief executive, restructured OMD UK in February.

The decision saw the departure of the strategy director, Mark Palmer, who was replaced by Toby Roberts. The changes brought in a younger, fresher team at OMD UK under its managing director, Steve Williams.

At Manning Gottlieb, Robert Ffitch was appointed as managing director.

Management stability was ensured with the other two managing partners, Phil Nunn and Neil Hurman, staying on. Sam Phillips, the former IPC director, arrived as its group marketing director, replacing Mark Dickinson, and healthy strides were made in the creation of closer links between the two agencies in areas such as digital and metrics.

Both agencies won awards - Manning Gottlieb's work for Nissan and OMD UK's activity for Wanadoo stood out. Management stability and a good run of new business should be priorities for OMD in 2006.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 6

How OMD rates itself: 7

"2005 was the year we exploited our full potential to win more business (£150 million) than anyone, while retaining £70 million of PSA. We won the IPA's Award for Awards, a couple of Campaign golds, launched OMD Fuse in content and OMD Metrics just flew."


Type of agency Direct marketing Company ownership Private company Key personnel Phil Andrews managing partner Steve Aldridge creative partner Shaun Moran creative partner Kate Waters planning partner Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £3m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £0.1m Total accounts year end 11 Accounts won 4 (biggest: Vodafone) Accounts lost 1 (RAC) Number of staff 48

2005 was another strong year for Partners Andrews Aldridge, after the combined experience of the creative partner, Steve Aldridge, and the managing partner, Phil Andrews, was put to the test in 2004 when they bought themselves out of Havas.

This year, the agency's new-business record has been impressive, winning places on the BSkyB and Vodafone accounts, pitching against Harrison Troughton Wunderman, and retaining its place on the Lloyds TSB roster. Creatively, the agency won plaudits at the Campaign Direct Awards for Lexus and Video Arts.

A low point came in August when Partners lost the £10 million RAC business after only a year when RAC's new owner, Aviva, consolidated its account into the Norwich-based agency Fox Murphy. Barnardo's also parted company with the agency in March following differences over strategy.

Now a year into independence, Partners has recorded healthy income growth, up 17 per cent to £3.8 million from £3 million. At the same time, the agency boosted its management team by appointing Kate Waters as its planning partner, while Jon Gowar joined as the group account director.

The strength, stability and profitability of the seven-year-old agency and its talented management team has made it an industry leader. Indeed, its performance in 2005 is all the more impressive when compared with the fruitless toils of so many network-backed rivals.

Score last year: 8

Score this year: 8

How Partners Andrews Aldridge rates itself: 8

"Chelsea riding high, Vodafone and Sky clients in reception: what more could we ask for? A bit more shelf space for the latest crop of awards would be nice. Biggest challenge? Keeping up with all those updated phone lists. Any more hirings and we'll need another floor. Oh, seems we've already got one."


Type of agency Media Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary Key personnel Tess Alps chairman Morag Blazey managing director Mark Holden executive planning director Louise Jones executive strategy director Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £226m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £213m Total accounts year end 79 Accounts won 9 (biggest: AA) Accounts lost 1 (Transport for London) TV 42% Press 30% Out of home 14% Radio 6% Below the line 4% Other 4% Number of staff 50

After a 2004 characterised by new-business losses, PHD's performance in 2005 was excellent: a turnaround that saw it named Campaign's Media Agency of the Year in December. It won £63 million in new billings, including AA, Bayer/Roche, Digital UK, Sainsbury's Bank and Yell.

It reaffirmed its pre-eminence as a planning-led agency, winning the BMW and Mini planning accounts. COI planning briefs also came its way.

PHD also proved its resilience in retaining business in pitches, starting with the £6 million UKTV account in January. It retained BMI and avoided a review of its Sainsbury's business despite the latter's intention to look at all suppliers. Its biggest new-business blow was the loss of Transport for London's £14 million account.

PHD was creative during 2005, both in its work for clients (notably The Guardian, Make Poverty History, BT, Nando's and Adidas) and in its approach to a restructure. It introduced a new planning approach, underpinned by "neuroplanning", and formed two joint ventures with ad agencies. The first was Lunar, a joint venture with Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO within its Rocket division, which landed BT as its first client. The launch of the communications planning business Sherlock Communications with Campbell Doyle Dye followed; then PHD merged Rocket and the London office of its Compass operation.

PHD's respected management team was stable (its co-founders David Pattison and Jonathan Durden were also on hand to help the day-to-day team). The agency's only high-profile personnel loss was Ben Christie, the director of its PHDiQ digital division.

Omnicom's announcement that it is to roll out PHD as a global network gave the UK agency a huge boost and should ensure its future on the international stage.

Score last year: 4

Score this year: 9

How PHD rates itself: 8

"2005 reaped the benefits of our 2004 investment in Pioneering from PHD. We reinvented everything from our planning process to our training programme. We launched new companies; iQuest, Drum Screen and Lunar. Our new-business drive was successful and our clients' work reinvigorated. Hard work, great fun and more to come!"


Type of agency Digital full service Company ownership Private company Key personnel Daryl Arnold chief executive Wayne Arnold managing director Daniele Fiandaca chief operating officer Matt Powell creative director Declared income £4.4m Accounts won 13 (biggest: Channel 4) Accounts lost 0 Creative 45% Media planning and buying 45% Web design/build 10% Consultancy 0% Biggest-spending clients Ask Jeeves, Bulldog, Channel 4 Number of staff 55 (UK only)

Profero's positioning as a full-service digital specialist has left it exposed to a lingering criticism: that creative is the weaker side of its offering. This year was no exception: the agency won far more media business than it did creative.

Even on the media side, Profero did not pitch for the biggest accounts, but picked up some attractive medium-sized pieces of business, including Bulldog, Channel 4 and Butlins during a particularly prolific few weeks in August.

The agency did manage to leverage its full-service capability by converting media wins into creative briefs for Channel 4 and Bulldog, but did not appear on as many big creative pitches as it might have liked.

Creative new-business wins included the Belgian Tourist Board, Western Union and, while the agency retained its high-profile COI child protection on the internet account following a pitch at the end of the year. Ask Jeeves also rewarded Profero's long service on its UK business by awarding the agency its European account.

Creative output was also less prolific than it has been in previous years.

There was some good work on COI's Frank campaign and for Motorola, for which the agency produced backstage shows from the V Festival exclusively for the web.

Profero is looking for a global creative director and any appointment will be a positive step in bolstering its creative offering as well as its ability to pitch for global accounts. The agency also continued its international expansion this year, opening four new offices in Asia.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 6

How Profero rates itself: 8

"Another great year. 100 per cent client retention reflected in a 50 per cent increase in client investment. Another strong new-business year with a 75 per cent competitive pitch success rate. We were voted Media Employer of the Year (by Pathfinder's media recruitment) and internationally we opened offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo. Looking forward to 2006!"


Type of agency Direct marketing Company ownership BBDO Worldwide subsidiary Key personnel Amanda Philips managing director Caitlin Ryan creative director Lou Barber director of client services Simon Calvert head of strategy Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £19m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £9m Total accounts year end 29 Accounts won 11 (biggest: InterContinental Hotel Group) Accounts lost 0 Number of staff 255

The most significant event in Proximity London's year was the announcement in November that its chief executive, Chris Thomas, was following the network path he has long been expected to take, leaving to run BBDO Asia.

Otherwise, it was a fairly ordinary year for the UK division of BBDO's direct marketing network. However, after the experiences of recent years - the exodus of the founders in 2003 and the distraction that leading Omnicom's (unsuccessful) HSBC pitch last year caused - perhaps a quieter time was what the agency wanted.

Client relationships stabilised, as did management turnover. Its existing client Shell consolidated its £7 million pan-European forecourt business (previously held by 16 agencies) into Proximity London. It also picked up the below-the-line business for EDF Energy, a direct response press task from BT Mobile and a sales promotion brief for Royal Mail's Special Stamps.

Creatively, Proximity was awarded the IPA's best of the best award for its 2004 efforts as well as four gongs at the Direct Marketing Awards, one of them a gold for TV Licensing.

It rejuvenated its digital offering with the appointment of Unit9's managing director, Mark Iremonger, and won briefs from MoneyGram, and from Masterfoods for Dolmio.

Although there was little pitch activity with its sister agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, the ad agency's decision to close Minerva saw Harvey's advertising account shifted to Proximity. The fact that AMV's Cilla Snowball was named group chief executive, including responsibility for Proximity, means the two will work more closely together in the future.

The newly installed managing director, Amanda Phillips, has some work to mature an agency still in its infancy (Proximity Worldwide was launched in 2000).

Score last year: 4

Score this year: 5

How Proximity rates itself: 8

"A strong agency-wide performance in 2005 delivered award-winning creative, an unblemished client-retention record and significant business wins from both new and existing clients. The merger with Minerva allowed joint clients, including Masterfoods, to reap the benefits of a consolidated offering, and we will continue to set the benchmark for innovation across integrated marketing services in 2006."


Type of agency Advertising Company ownership Publicis Groupe subsidiary Key personnel Tim Lindsay chairman Grant Duncan chief executive (Publicis) Simon Marshall chief executive (Publicis Dialog) Jason Frost managing director (Publicis Blueprint) Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £284m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £288m Total accounts year end 63 Accounts won 17 across Publicis Groupe (biggest: Visit London) Accounts lost 0 Number of staff 528

For several years, Publicis has looked like a big success story waiting to happen. Last year was no different, with the results of a quiet revolution set in motion by Tim Lindsay, the UK group chairman, still to be seen.

But many believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Handed the job of dismantling the barriers between the group's three main companies - Publicis, Publicis Dialog and Publicis Blueprint - to ensure seamless communications solutions, Lindsay has made significant progress. Increasingly, the three units operate as one, with account teams working alongside each other, often on a fully integrated basis.

At the same time, last year's acquisition of Freud Communications marks a significant step forward in improving the group's all-round offering.

However, Lindsay will need no reminding that Publicis has some way to travel. Although the group has a solid base of blue-chip clients and a reputation for populist advertising, its engine still is not firing on all cylinders. True, it lost no business last year and picked up new assignments from existing clients including HP, United Biscuits, Cadbury and Procter & Gamble.

Nevertheless, there is no disguising the fact that new business is not what it could be. Insiders claim the agency's attention was diverted by the need to bed down problematic accounts and a repitch for its £5 million Fidelity Investment Services business. Failure to land the £20 million News Group Newspapers assignment was a particular disappointment.

Creative output was solid, with likeable work for Clio and McCoy's.

Lindsay's task for 2006 is to translate new working methods into tangible success. That could mean Publicis will be in the market for a brand consultancy and, almost certainly, for more specialist talent.

Score last year: 5

Score this year: 5

How Publicis rates itself: 6

"In a tough year for the big agencies, we earned a Champions League place. Strong campaigns for Clio, the Army, Procter & Gamble and McCoy's; new-business wins (five), client losses (none); awards, including M&M Creative Agency of the Year. More pitches and fewer second places would have been good, but that's for 2006."


Type of agency Advertising Company ownership Private company Key personnel John Longworth chairman Rick Ward creative director Pete Camponi creative director Nielsen Media Research billings 2005 £46m Nielsen Media Research billings 2004 £53m Total accounts year end 10 Accounts won 4 (biggest: Grampian) Accounts lost 2 (biggest: Fox's) Number of staff 28

PWLC's relentless rise up the agency ranks hit a speed bump last year when an acrimonious falling out culminated in Mike Phillipson's departure as a managing partner.

Just what caused the schism at the Leeds shop is an unanswered question.

Phillipson cites a disagreement over the agency's direction, his partners claim the parting was precipitated by a less than impressive new-business record.

After Phillipson's departure to the creative agency Propaganda, followed by the loss of the Fox's Biscuits and The Car People accounts, PWLC must intensify its efforts to lessen its dependence on the DFS retail business that continues to dominate its client list.

Britain's fifth-largest advertiser, which spends £80 million a year, may be undemanding creatively but throws into sharp focus the need for the agency to balance its portfolio. "We've been in danger of becoming a one-trick pony," John Longworth, one of PWLC's founding partners, admits. "The responsibility for new business is now mine."

Grampian Country Foods, which is taking on Dairylea and Ginsters in the snacks market, a marketing consortium promoting Blackpool as a holiday destination and Kingston Communications all helped tip the scales away from DFS. But the agency failed to win either Magnet (£9 million) or Iceland (£10 million).

For the moment, PWLC is putting the best possible spin on the management changes, arguing they have enabled some "housekeeping" to take place and some unprofitable business to leave.

One measure of how well PWLC comes through the upheaval is whether it is successful in achieving its aim of opening a London office.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 4

How PWLC rates itself: 5

"PWLC highlights include an IPA Effectiveness Award for Fox's Rocky, new TV campaigns for the Blackpool Marketing Consortium, The Car People and DFS - a regular in Adwatch's Top Five. Account wins include Kingston Communications, Grampian Country Foods, Kwok's Foods and Pleasure Beach Blackpool. PWLC looks set for a prosperous 2006."