Each year it becomes harder for media agencies to stand out from
the crowd. More clients are centralising their accounts, forcing
agencies to scrabble around to keep hold of a shrinking client
One agency, however, appears to have come of age and fulfilled its
promise of being a strategically led media shop, putting in a sterling
performance in 1998. This was best illustrated when BT, the UK’s largest
advertiser, decided to award its pounds 100 million-plus media strategy
account to New PHD last April. At the time, David Pattison, New PHD’s
chief executive, said: ’It shows how it’s possible for a company like us
to be both strategic and big.’
In 1997, the agency faltered after its merger with the Abbott Mead
Vickers BBDO media department, and its ’strategic’ edge was then blunted
by the loss of First Direct’s planning to the rival shop, Michaelides &
But in 1998, the agency bounced back, scooped a number of major accounts
and unleashed new branded services into the media world.
Criticised in the past for not being aggressive enough on the
new-business front, New PHD substantially improved its record once its
marketing director, Mike Anderson, was fully on board.
The agency won ONdigital’s pounds 15 million business - and held on to
it - even when AMV, its sister creative agency, lost the account in the
late summer. In fact, New PHD lost just one piece of business last year,
the RAC to BBJ, while chalking up more than pounds 35.7 million in
account wins, including Pizza Hut, Duracell and Prudential Direct.
Aware that it could not sit on its laurels, New PHD introduced two
independent divisions, Apollo and Space Station. Apollo was created to
offer strategic planning services alongside database marketing and Space
Station was set up as the specialist regional press division.
New PHD shone at Campaign’s Media Awards, scooping the best media
campaign of the year and best use of outdoor with its Yellow Pages work,
which appeared on liveried Tube trains, escalator arches, platforms and
tickets, as well as taxis and posters. The agency also came up with the
’choose your own Bond movie’ initiative on ITV for the launch of
ONdigital, and helped Egg produce an outstanding launch campaign.
New PHD’s other agency brands have also performed well. Its
second-string operation, Rocket, has pulled in a number of new clients,
including 49s and Emap Radio, while MSc, New PHD’s media joint venture
with Partners BDDH, clinched Bradford & Bingley’s pounds 15 million
All in all, New PHD returned to form in 1998, proved its strategic worth
and showed that it was capable of developing its products and services
in a rapidly changing media environment.
Of the other contenders, Initiative Media had a lot to prove in 1998 -
and did so with style. The surprise departure of the chief executive,
Phil Georgiadis, at the end of 1997 - just as the agency began bedding
down its pounds 90 million Peugeot-Citroen media account - raised a
number of questions about the underlying strength of the agency he left
But over the course of 1998, Initiative won a place on a number of
prestigious pitch-lists, such as BT, and proved itself a worthy
contender for big business. Its new-business triumphs included the
pounds 9 million LVMH business, Calvin Klein’s centralised account and
the pounds 18 million Johnson & Johnson media business taken away from
The agency ended the year having successfully shaken off its image as
the Unilever buying shop, sharpened its press buying skills, accumulated
more than pounds 30 million of new business and positioned itself as a
serious rival at the top end of the media market.
Another close runner-up was BMP Optimum, which ended its first full year
of independence with a handsome portfolio of new-business wins,
including the pounds 10 million National Savings account, pounds 13
million of Easy Play business, the pounds 20 million Camelot media
buying task and pounds 9 million of Compaq from an international
realignment. A couple of losses - Thomson Holidays, Do It All and, in
another international network shift, that pounds 18 million of Johnson &
Johnson business - tempered what has been a strong track record in
Other agencies deserving honorable mentions. Carat scooped the pounds 60
million Diageo business and the pounds 10 million SCA account in an
otherwise relatively quiet new-business year but continued to be one of
the most formidable players in the market. Its sister agency, BBJ Media
Services, can look back on a terrific string of wins in 1998, including
Cable & Wireless and the RAC, while Leo Burnett’s media department, with
help from MediaVest, snaffled the biggest win of the year: pounds 170
million of Procter & Gamble business.
Zenith Media tempted Simon Marquis back to the media mire and turned in
a respectable performance - clocking up pounds 50 million in new
Walker Media’s first year in business began on a high as it took the
pounds 107 million Dixons Group business, followed by the pounds 10
million Channel 5 account, although the agency ended the year with
something still to prove in the competitive arena.
Another start-up - the Allmond Partnership - was responsible for one of
the boldest client moves of the year when it walked off with the pounds
110 million BT TV account, proving once again that its parent, Manning
Gottlieb Media, is still one of the shrewdest outfits around.
Previous two winners: Michaelides & Bednash (1997); TMD Carat (1996).