10 Katie Lee
Chief executive, Lucky Generals
After a tumultuous time, having been made redundant just months into her role as chief executive of Y&R, Lee resurfaced at Lucky Generals at the beginning of the year. She has already made her mark at the agency as it continues to grow out of its start-up roots. Lee’s tenacious and driven nature nicely complements the co-founders. Winning the Zoopla business this year is evidence of her talent.
9 Natalie Graeme
Co-founder, Uncommon Creative Studio
Uncommon Creative Studio is like a three-legged stool – all three founders make the agency a complete, functioning object. Graeme, the new-business machine, has been extremely busy since the agency launched. Uncommon is so in-demand, that it’s rare to see a pitch list without its name on it. Achieving this, while also keeping its small but perfectly formed roster of existing clients happy, is credit to Graeme.
8 Andrew Peake
Chief executive, VCCP
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO used to be the past master of agency succession, but VCCP could now teach it how to attract, nurture and keep the top talent. Peake was promoted to chief executive of VCCP last year, having previously been its managing director. In both instances, he followed in the footsteps of Michael Sugden, who is now group chief executive. The fact that each pass of the baton was so smooth – an epithet that could also be applied to Peake – is testament to the way the agency is run.
7 Sarah Douglas
Chief executive, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Another new name on this list, the hitherto obscure Douglas took on the top job alongside Justin Pahl following the departure of Dame Cilla Snowball – named Campaign’s Agency Head of the Year. Pahl then quit to become chief of VMLY&R. Douglas’ profile hasn’t grown significantly – you’d be unlikely to find her on the party circuit or propping up the bar – but her capability isn’t in doubt, judging by the quality of the creative output that continues to be produced.
6 Nick Farnhill
Chief executive, Publicis.Poke
While many co-founders would have taken the money and run, Farnhill has risen to become a major figure within Publicis UK within six years of selling Poke to Publicis Groupe. He now leads Publicis.Poke, having spent most of 2019 masterminding the merger of Publicis London, Poke and Arc into a "de-siloed" integrated business.
5 Neil Christie
Chief executive, Wieden & Kennedy
Given the high-stress stakes of running a top agency, having a release valve is important. Christie, a gruff but not unamusing Scot, finds his as a member of a band – Emperor Penguin. Back in the office, he continues to propel Wieden & Kennedy on a steady trajectory, producing memorable work for the likes of Three UK, and helping lead the response to the increasingly loud calls for the advertising industry to be more environmentally sound.
4 Xavier Rees
Chief executive, Havas London
You can’t have failed to notice that talking about "issues", such as climate change or inclusivity, is terribly fashionable. But Rees doesn’t do it to look woke – his big heart and compassion is genuine. Away from being virtuous, Rees’ mission to turn Havas into a centre of creative excellence continues apace. His hiring of Vicki Maguire as chief creative officer from the increasingly moribund Grey London was a great choice. There is no reason why Rees’ 2020 won’t be even better than 2019.
3 Bill Scott
Chief executive, Droga5 London
There are few agencies with the strength in depth of Droga5 London – Scott, David Kolbusz and Dylan Williams. It’s little wonder that the triumvirate was Campaign’s Independent Agency of the Year 2018. Just four weeks later, Accenture Interactive acquired the agency, and it is to the credit of Scott that he has managed to avoid it being subsumed by the consultancy, thereby retaining the distinctiveness and spirit that made it the winner in the first place.
2 Sarah Golding
Chief executive, The & Partnership London
Having handed over the IPA president reins to Nigel Vaz, after a successful tenure in the post, Golding has since been able to focus all her attention on running The & Partnership London. It has yielded great results. Sweetest of all must have been snatching the Royal Bank of Scotland account from its long-standing agency, M&C Saatchi. With The & Partnership’s creative product also reaching new heights, Golding can look back on a year of significant progress.
1 Tammy Einav
Joint chief executive, Adam & Eve/DDB
Taking up the mantle left by the departure of James Murphy is not for the faint-hearted. But Einav (and joint chief executive Mat Goff) rose to the challenge, steadying the business – there has been no client fallout – and picking up briefs along the way. It’s pleasing that the continuity of the client-handling skills Murphy picked up from Jim Kelly (late of RKCR) continue.