Opinion: Perspective - Why Naked has become a brand to be proud of

Another week, another batch of newly minted adland millionaires. Nice to see the media guys doing well this year.

First BLM and its £20 million Havas deal, now Naked and Photon and £16.5 million. That's one advantage (probably the only one) of the impending CGT rule change: a rash of deals.

So what should we make of Naked's sale? Inevitable, for starters. Naked's probably sold at the optimum time. Its UK agency still has some credibility (more so with the excellent Will Collin and Ivan Pollard redirected back to London). And its overseas offices, particularly in Australia and the US, are riding the crest of comms strategy's fashionability in those markets.

The "why?" of it seems obvious - £16.5 million is why. Except that there's also an ambitious expansion plan on the back of it. Photon's backing will fuel new offices, probably initially in China, India and Brazil. And here the ambition is to round out the offering (tangibly, rather than hyperbolically - which has been a bit of a Naked weakness in the past). So there'll be investment in evaluation services, brand activation and digital and branded content.

And why Photon? Well, selling to a company that sounds like it makes fertilisers was probably the only credible option if you buy the Naked positioning. Naked could never have sold to one of the big holding companies and still looked its logo in the eye afterwards. If you believe in the challenger brand positioning, then a semblance of independence is crucial.

From Naked's briefing notes on the deal, the partners' preoccupation with this "independence" issue is obvious. Photon's "decentralised philosophy is consistent with Naked's media neutral heritage".

"Unlike the multinational networks, they respect the individual businesses within their portfolio and steer away from consolidation, choosing instead to let each business operate with complete autonomy." And just in case you're still not convinced, Naked is insistent that it will be able to "continue to be a channel agnostic advisor to clients, free from any pressure to upsell or cross sell other businesses within the group".

Crucially, the briefing note asks: "How will this deal affect Naked's unconventional culture?" And the answer they give to their own question: "We believe that Photon embodies much the same culture as Naked, they are misfits who wear ties, we are by and large misfits who wear T-shirts!"

Yeah, yeah, this jars; it's a bit too contrived now, this shabby-clever badge. And maybe Naked is too project-driven, maybe it is too full of young talent with not enough experience, maybe everyone does comms planning now and it has lost its USP. All of this may be true, but you can't argue that Naked has set an important agenda and created a great business. Crucially Naked is a brand, and there aren't many agencies - media or otherwise - you can say that about. A brand worth £16.5 million seven years after launch.

It's also true that Naked's very existence has helped to force the rest of the UK advertising market to raise its game on communications strategy, to the extent that the discipline has become a crucial and high- profile part of the advertising offer. Not everyone does it very well - and there's a desperate shortage of talent in this sector of the market - but it's a must-have for everyone now.

And while Naked is a brand resolutely shaped, still, by its founders, it nevertheless has values and a culture that could live beyond the earn-out, with some careful marketing.

Despite all its critics over the years - and I distinctly remember Naked being booed when it went up to collect one of Campaign's Media Awards a few years back - the brand has remained interesting and exciting. While the rest of the media market is in danger of slipping back into commodity territory, Naked has continued to surprise. And its energetic international expansion has proved Naked as an export we should be proud of.