UM’s win is a recognition of the bold changes it has made across the EMEA region, resulting in "a year of acceleration". The network, in common with fellow Interpublic winner McCann, delivered some exceptional business results, standout creativity for clients and a real investment in people and culture.
Campaign’s judges singled out UM for particular praise for its high level of client wins and retentions, and its focus on real-time planning, which they saw as a unique offering in a cluttered media agency world. They also identified the network’s connection with data specialist Acxiom as a positive, together with UM’s culture and low levels of employee churn.
Led by Chris Skinner, EMEA president, UM is present in more than 50 markets in the region. Its success in 2019 stems from its decision, in 2018, to implement some big changes, shifting its approach to audiences and developing a new agency model built around speed, agility and human insights.
The result? Twenty-three client wins, 15% revenue growth, 11 Cannes awards and a low staff turnover of 12%. UM also claims to be the fastest-growing media network in the UK, Germany and France. UM’s account wins included American Express, Mattel, Just Eat and Nestlé (it now manages 97 brands across eight European markets for the FMCG giant), and Hugo Boss in Germany.
The network also proved its creative excellence, celebrating 11 Cannes Lions, and its standout work included the "Loud silence" campaign with Marie Claire and Spotify in France (pictured, top), the "Half-full" activity for Coca-Cola in Romania and its Amex presence at the Wimbledon tennis championships in the UK.
Investment helps, of course, and Interpublic’s $2.3bn acquisition of Acxiom, completed in late 2018, has fuelled UM’s ability to create audiences for clients, and scale them across the region. But it wasn’t all about the tech. UM also expanded its creative content arm and established a progressive new working environment.
Focusing on its people, UM built a new "Open" culture, championed diversity and halved its gender pay gap. Better working conditions for staff included agile working options for all, the introduction of "core hours" and extended maternity and paternity leave benefits. This helped UM to achieve a significantly lower churn rate versus the market average – 13% for UM EMEA across 2019 (18% in UM UK, versus an industry average of 28%).
In addition, UM’s "Better World" initiative offers paid volunteering days to all staff. And it has created Impact Day, when every UM office around the globe closes its doors to do good. 2019’s activity was all about making a real difference to local communities. The network restored national parks in Spain, worked with sick children in France and cleaned up forests in Poland. UM has also committed to have plastic-free offices across Europe by 2021.
The network’s "Open" model allows UM to service clients in a more flexible and agile way. At the start of 2019 it shared an "Open Toolkit" with all EMEA markets, with advice on how to be a more progressive employer, and provided KPIs that required them to implement at least three "Open" initiatives across the year.
UM has also developed thought-leadership programmes that are focused on underrepresented and stereotyped groups in society, including "The Invisible Women" project in the UK. Alongside this, it has launched the "Wave X: Remix Culture" project from London, creating research that demonstrates how to connect with global consumers through remixing and recreating cultural moments.
The network scored highly with judges on most criteria and deserves its triumph for capitalising on a brave and progressive strategy, in the process proving that culture and transformation is the real driver of success for media networks.
The origins of Dentsu X might lie in Asia but the network, which partners pioneering brands, is now making an impact in the region. In 2019, revenue in EMEA increased 1.8 times on 2018 on the back of Dentsu X’s experience-led proposition. Client wins included Jaguar Land Rover, Heineken and Nestlé. Its work for Jaguar across the region and Heineken/Cruzcampo in Spain was among its most recognised. The big differentiator for Dentsu X is integration of media, technology, creative and design, which seems a promising platform for growth.
Initiative EMEA celebrated its best year in 2019, growing both revenues and profits substantially, and building its non-media revenues (consultancy, insight and analytics) into 40% of the total. It won business from Deliveroo, Groupon, Revlon, Teva, Phonak and Philips, while boasting high talent-retention rates and strong client-satisfaction scores. Initiative’s performance is especially impressive, given the swift turnaround in its fortunes, based on a belief in the value of the agency’s culture.
MediaCom’s relentless approach led to 254 pitch wins across 35 countries in 2019 – equating to an impressive 69% conversion rate. The network’s "People First, Better Results" culture attempts to help its employees be the best they can be to deliver better work for clients, and this approach was emphasised by a new leadership team, with Josh Krichefski promoted to EMEA chief executive and Steve Gladdis to EMEA chief strategy officer. Client work that attracted attention included Gillette’s "I don’t roll on Shabbos" in Israel, Missguided’s Love Island activity in the UK and a partnership with Sky in Germany to relaunch Das Boot as a series.
It was a transformational 2019 for M/SIX in the region. It won 13 new clients, including Electronic Arts and London Business School, increased billings to £642m, and grew revenue by 20%. M/SIX also invested in its first people-based initiatives, including a neurodiversity programme for its teams. Punching well above its weight, M/SIX’s challenger approach, including the in-housing of teams with clients, stands out against its rivals and the capture of its first truly global client – EA – provides every prospect for future growth in 2020 and beyond.
OMD achieved outstanding new-business success in 2019, winning more than $1bn in billings in net new and retained business across EMEA. That included 247 pitch wins (a win rate of 77%), including Allianz, Müller, Beiersdorf and Boehringer Ingelheim. The network has a 50:50 gender split across its EMEA leadership – women lead OMD’s business in its top five markets. It also won 137 awards including nine Cannes Lions and eight Effies, and launched diversity and inclusion initiatives such as the steering group RED, which focuses on staff recruitment, engagement and development.
There were few signs of a decline in fortunes for PHD, Campaign’s EMEA Media Network of the Year for 2018. The network’s EMEA billings surpassed $3bn for the first time, and it won 105 industry awards. PHD also remained true to its mindset, looking to add some magic to all its work. Alongside its culture, PHD’s business growth and client win rate were notable – the network was successful in 140 pitches in 2019, amounting to $435m in billings across EMEA. Wins included LG Electronics and TikTok globally, and Aldi, Beiersdorf, Rewe, Lindt & Sprungli, Chauffeur Privé and HBO locally.