Gold: PHD UK
PHD UK has been rightly crowned Media Agency of the Year after taking its momentum, energy and empathy to the next level. Over the course of 2020, the Omnicom shop delivered across the board, increasing pitch wins and client satisfaction levels, reducing staff turnover and delivering some of the agency’s most creative, effective work – all amid a challenging set of conditions.
Highlights across the year include working with Channel 4 and the British Heart Foundation to create a special one-off episode of 24 Hours in A&E, developing a range of media executions to boost Confused.com’s standing in the motor insurance comparison market and helping McCain outperform its category by 26% in lockdown.
On the product front, PHD developed tools to analyse fast-changing business trends and consumer attitudes, particularly relevant during the turmoil of 2020. A “keyword universe tool”, for example, enables the agency to analyse millions of search data points at speed, while analysis on challenger brands that was developed into a book in 2019 was expanded into a client workshop format and a series of podcasts.
Industry contributions across 2020 addressed some of the biggest challenges such as the future of the media agency, the workplace and racial inequality. Actions followed words as the agency overhauled its D&I approach and set new goals. Notably, it also increased access to coaching for more staff, upscaled unconscious bias training and undertook an inclusivity review of its supply partner list. If the agency can do all this in a pandemic year, just think what PHD might achieve in 2021.
As ever, Goodstuff punched above its weight, championing independent shops by helping them to deal with the challenges of Covid-19 through a series of initiatives. This included the launch of “The land of independents”, an ad campaign promoting the indie sector as the destination of choice for progressive brands.
Goodstuff also went the extra mile with its clients. The agency designed and built its own data-led product, “The Rapport Report”, allowing it to compare client recommendations of the agency against an internal recommendation of working with that client, with the aim of identifying and highlighting any potential relationship challenges.
From a people point of view, Goodstuff stuck to its pledge to avoid redundancies across 2020 and publicly shared its D&I targets. It launched its “Do The Right Thing Council” where partners lead an area of D&I, and also hosted inaugural Black History Month sessions. A well-deserved silver award.
Bronze: MediaCom UK
The agency’s achievements across 2020 include winning 22 new accounts, improving client satisfaction scores and increasing employee engagement. At the beginning of the year, MediaCom UK pledged to become the most inclusive agency in the UK, putting in place diversity targets at team level and hosting a workshop on microaggressions. To protect its people, it offered free access to the wellbeing app, Unmind and held weekly Town Halls to keep staff informed and ensure they were listened to.
In 2020, Essence added five big brands to its roster and invested in innovation, making significant breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and advertising sustainability. It helped brands such as L'Oréal accelerate its ecommerce ambitions and produced scenario planning for the likes of The Financial Times and Peloton, helping them to capitalise on changing media and fitness habits.
The agency’s 2020 highlights include winning 10 pitches and helping its staff to adapt and thrive during the pandemic, running sessions on everything from nutrition and sleep to posture and mindfulness. It also made a commitment to diversifying its workforce through an internal steering group called The Collective.
In 2020, MG OMD’s standout work included a new campaign for Specsavers following the end of the UK’s first lockdown, celebrating the real-life stories of customers and in-store colleagues during lockdown. The agency had one of its best years yet in 2020, launching a mentoring partnership with Brixton Finishing School and providing strong support and education around diversity and inclusion.
Thought leadership and a strong sense of collaboration have shaped OMD UK’s performance in 2020. The agency strengthened its relationships with its biggest clients, with highlights including winning Lidl’s UK media buying account, having worked on the supermarket’s strategic planning account since 2018. The agency also won more awards for more clients in more categories.
2020 saw Zenith get closer than ever to its clients, strengthening its partnerships and delivering some of its best work. Highlights included Carling’s partnership with TALKsport featuring some of football’s heroes speaking frankly about their darkest moments through virtual “TeamTalks” and winning TikTok’s global media and buying account.