Gold: Taylor Herring
Taylor Herring takes the PR Agency of the Year gold with aplomb following a 2020 marked out by some of the biggest new-business wins in its history, strong revenue growth and eye-catching work.
More than half of the sparky independent agency’s income is project-based so when pitches were either delayed or postponed, and many activations centred on shelved events, Taylor Herring radically evolved and reshaped its client work at speed.
Standout campaigns included the promotion of Notting Hill’s lockdown carnival with Samsung and the launch of the “Greggs Concierge Card” with Stormzy, creating a range of kid-friendly Covid masks for easyJet and educating Santander’s older customers about online fraud.
Tongue-in-cheek content featuring Olympic gymnast Max Whitlock helped to promote Samsung’s white goods, while for Greggs a delivery team on skates – dubbed the “Sausage Roll-er Skating Squad” – reminded the public they could get a pastry-based fix delivered to their homes during lockdown.
On the people front, to help with staff wellbeing over the pandemic, regular one-to-one check-ins became the norm as well as weekly Friday drinks, mindfulness sessions and meet-ups when it was safe to do so. Unlike many others, the shop was able to transition seamlessly to home working as it already had an existing flexible working policy in place.
Despite the challenging conditions, revenue at the shop grew by a whopping 17.5%. Judges were generous in their praise for the agency’s creative response to Covid, commenting on how this had helped Taylor Herring surpass its projected growth targets and bring in new business.
Silver: Hill & Knowlton Strategies
Hill & Knowlton, the silver winner in the PR category, can look back on 2020 with pride. It produced a number of industry-leading campaigns for clients such as Adidas, Gillette (pictured) and Ford, resulting in record growth in its work for sectors including consumer packaged goods and healthcare. Its teams across entertainment and mobility doubled in size, while several flagship brands were added to its technology practice.
The WPP agency continued to invest in initiatives such as Future Councils, which provides an opportunity for new talent and future leaders to help shape the company. It also offers career progression learning and development modules for junior and mid-level staff. On the thought leadership front, 2020 was the agency’s busiest year to date, with insights and opinions published regularly on its website.
Bronze: Tin Man
Tin Man nabbed the bronze after impressing judges with its swift response to the pandemic by redirecting campaigns and developing new expertise to service the needs of its clients and their audiences. Its people were also key, leading to greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion. To help navigate these unprecedented times from a PR perspective, the agency developed an audience-centric Covid data tracker to measure consumer sentiment and the messages likely to resonate with the public.
In 2020, the agency formally committed to becoming an actively anti-racist company and invested in learning and development. Staff undertook courses on creative leadership and the agency offered its services to the industry as creative mentors, The Romans, which is backed by ad agency Mother, finished 2020 recording a fourth year of double digit growth, attracting new clients and retaining existing ones.
W Communications reinvented how the agency worked from the ground up, winning new business and doubling down on diversity and inclusion. It opened new international offices and invested in talent and training and supported the industry through a number of initiatives including the co-founding of the Creative Industries Club.