Media: Lifeline - Initiative London

Interpublic's UK arm is under pressure following some high-profile account losses.

NOVEMBER 2000 ... Jerry Hill (pictured), the former chief executive of the ITV sales house, TSMS, is appointed as the group chief executive of Initiative Media UK, following a merger with its fellow Interpublic media operation, Western International.

NOVEMBER 2004 ... But Initiative's London operation is rocked to its foundations (its original founding parent, Lintas, had once been Lever Brothers' in-house agency) when it loses the Unilever account, worth £196 million in the UK. Hill vows to resist redundancies, saying that the loss will not distract the agency from its commitment to its other clients.

OCTOBER 2006 ... Back in June 2005, Initiative had restructured to accommodate an increased focus on digital. But there's more trouble ahead - speculation that Initiative and its sister agency Universal McCann may have to merge, following the loss of the £400 million General Motors account (which had been shared by the two agencies) across Europe.

MARCH 2008 ... Initiative promotes Gary Birtles (pictured) to the role of chief executive, UK and Ireland, after Hill is promoted to the role of global strategic development director. Danny Donovan becomes the managing director.

SEPTEMBER 2008 ... Interpublic is moved to announce that it remains committed to Initiative London despite the loss of its £76 million Orange account and rumours of the imminent departure of its biggest remaining client, Tesco. However, to reduce costs, it will now share offices with Universal, with assurances from top brass that the two brands will be preserved at all costs. Hill also leaves the group.


MAY 2009 ... Under Birtles, Initiative embarks on a dream-like period of unprecedented success. Having held on to Tesco, he confounds circling IPG suits by winning back not just General Motors, but Unilever too after snap pitches. The icing on the cake comes when Birtles, following a shock eleventh-hour call-up, scores the winning goal at Wembley, securing the FA Cup and League double for his beloved Tottenham Hotspur.