Back in 2005, just when it seemed as though the era of the big independent media agency was coming to an end, the7stars decided to prove the industry wrong. Ten years later, the case has been well and truly made.
After generating 77 per cent growth in billings between January and September, the7stars has become the UK’s 12th biggest media agency, according to Nielsen. By the time the full year’s billings are tallied up, they are expected to exceed £200 million, thanks to new-business wins including Iceland, Trainline, Prostate Cancer UK, Warner Music UK and Ancestry.co.uk.
Led by Jenny Biggam (below) and Mark Jarvis, the co-founders, and Gareth Jones, the partner, the7stars was named Media Week’s Media Agency of the Year 2015. In addition, The Sunday Times called it the third best small company to work for in the UK and The Daily Telegraph included it in its 1,000 Companies To Inspire Great Britain report.
And the agency has managed this while producing innovative work: it took on the tricky challenge of making Iceland cool again and generated a huge social media response with "the power of frozen", which included an ad takeover during Britain’s Got Talent and a Surf & Turf experiential shack.
The7stars also displayed strategic nous behind the silent 20-second ad for Rescue Remedy, with specially targeted TV media buys and skippable versions on YouTube. Average week-on-week sales for the product went up 30 per cent following the campaign.
Hostelworld saw a 43 per cent increase in visits and bookings following the "meet the world" campaign, which included targeted outdoor activity, a presence on Instagram and a partnership with ASOS, where users could select their festival outfits and book nearby hostels.
This year has also witnessed the evolution of 8th Wonder, the7stars’ joint venture with Alpha Century, which offers bespoke creative resources. 8th Wonder’s revenue has grown by 396 per cent, its head count has doubled and it created 96 pieces of content in the past year.
All in all, a wonderful year for the7stars’ crew.
It was a competitive field for 2015’s Media Agency of the Year. After taking the trophy for two years, it’s MediaCom’s turn to step aside – but that’s not to say it hasn’t had a good year. New-business wins included the £15 million European Betfair account and the whopping £125 million Tesco business.
MediaCom hasn’t been wanting in terms of innovation either, and generated 3.8 million impressions on Twitter when it recreated Jurassic Park at Waterloo station. Its "share a Coke" campaign with Channel 4 was among the winners at the Media Week Awards.
Another highlight was "tap to beat cancer" for Cancer Research UK, which turned shop windows into donation channels. It picked up gold in Media Innovation at the Media Week Awards.
A low staff turnover – at 18.2 per cent this year, well below the industry average of 23.6 per cent – is particularly impressive. Media-Com prides itself on taking on ten apprentices every year, and welcomed 24 new staff to the fold.
As 2015 reached the finishing line, MediaCom promoted the highly regarded Josh Krichefski to chief executive and Karen Blackett to the role of chairman.
Carat has also had a productive year: it picked up the £40 million Mondelez International, £20 million Lionsgate and £14 million Halfords accounts. It also added Peperami and Eurostar, and retained the £9 million Department for Transport business.
Meanwhile, the shop struck a deal between The Electoral Commission and Channel 4 – a first for both – to create an ad starring the younger stars of Gogglebox to encourage viewers to vote.
PHD receives an honourable mention after an impressive 2015. In the year it turned 25, the Omnicom shop retained Sainsbury’s after a fiercely fought pitch against WPP and won new clients worth a total £68 million, including Virgin Atlantic and Twitter. The work highlight was "Oreo eclipse", which was named Media Campaign of the Year at the Campaign Media Awards.
Starcom Mediavest Group
Starcom Mediavest Group also turned in a fine performance. It ended the year on top of Campaign’s new-business table, boosted by its £70 million Lidl win. Other victories include TomTom, Royal London and the Samsung outdoor business, helping Starcom Mediavest Group make its first appearance in this list for some time.
Recent winners: MediaCom (2014); MediaCom (2013); Goodstuff Communications (2012); PHD (2011); PHD (2010)