CAMPAIGN DIRECT AWARDS 2002: Direct Agency of the Year - Campaign Gold Award. Partners Andrews Aldridge

Partners Andrews Aldridge's triumph followed the toughest contest to date for the Agency of the Year title. The award was richly deserved but TBWA/GGT Direct provided strong competition.

Andrews Aldridge, launched just under four years ago as part of the Partners Group alongside Partners BDDH, impressed in all areas during 2001. Above all, its creative was outstanding on all accounts.

The past year has seen Andrews Aldridge grow to 35 people, while turnover increased by 47 per cent and profits by 48 per cent. This was on the back of account wins including Lexus, E&J Gallo wines, a chunk of the BUPA account, several briefs from Lloyds TSB and the Art Fund.

An ability to muscle in on large accounts, such as BUPA and Lloyds TSB, was impressive. In both cases, Andrews Aldridge was hired to produce challenging work that would stand out in the market. Its creative for Lloyds' savings and telephone banking is especially strong. One mailing for Lloyds, which spoofs the old idea of accounts with savings books, particularly grabbed attention.

Andrews Aldridge also had a strong presence at awards ceremonies. It scooped DMA Grand Prix and Campaign Silvers for its Co-op Associated Creameries "milk bottle

activity and also won with its Art Fund work. Its "missing picture

work for Art Fund, which involved a blank wall space in the Tate Modern where a picture should hang, brought to life the message of the Art Fund - that great art will disappear from public view if the charity isn't supported.

The agency made senior hirings including Michael Sim as a client services partner and Paul Walton as its head of art. It also bolstered its interactive team with the hiring of Jeremy Kay as a digital partner. The stability of the senior team, led by Phil Andrews and the creative partner Steve Aldridge, proved to be an asset.

Andrews Aldridge's performance was especially good given the difficult year experienced by its sister agency, Partners BDDH, which meant it had to go out and do its own thing. The fact that it was able to make waves in the market despite its relatively small size bodes well for the future.

Andrews Aldridge pulled off the enviable achievement of a successful financial performance in a tough year while setting the creative agenda.

In the past 12 months it has proved that it can win blue-chip clients while preserving its ethos of partnership with clients to energise brands through direct marketing.

TBWA/GGT Direct pushed Andrews Aldridge all the way with a stunning new business performance and improved creative. Archibald Ingall Stretton, which created some of the strongest work of the year, and IMP, which of the larger DM agencies had the best financial performance, were also shortlisted.

- Partners Andrews Aldridge managed to pull off a successful financial performance in a tough year as well as set new creative standards for the industry. Winning heavyweight accounts such as Lloyds TSB and BUPA only consolidated its place in the market, although it fought off stiff competition from TBWA/GGT Direct for the agency of the year title.

The founding partners (left to right) are Phil Andrews and Steve Aldridge.