School Reports 2011: PHD Group

At the end of 2010, PHD was named Campaign's Media Agency of the Year. Innovative campaigns, an excellent new-business performance and a tangible investment in culture and people had created a spirit and dynamism missing at many of its rivals.

Recent PHD Group work: Irn-Bru
Recent PHD Group work: Irn-Bru

Score: 9

Agency fact file: PHD Group
Type of agency Media and marketing communications
Company ownership Omnicom
Key personnel Daren Rubins chief executive, PHD
  Frances Ralston-Good managing director, PHD
  Hugh Cameron chief strategy officer, PHD
  David Wilding head of planning, PHD
  Mark Girling managing director, Rocket
The Nielsen Company billings 2010 £238m
The Nielsen Company billings 2009 £187m
Declared income £19.6m (2009)
Total accounts at year end 87
Accounts won 10 (biggest: Kraft Foods)
Accounts lost 1 (Simple)
TV 53%
Press 28%
Outdoor 7%
Radio 7%
Other 5%
Number of staff 218 in 2009 (-0.6%)

The agency's year was defined by its capture of the consolidated £50 million Kraft/Cadbury business in a hard-fought pitch against the Kraft incumbent Starcom MediaVest Group. The win was symbolic as well as commercially important because PHD had produced some of its strongest work in recent years on Cadbury.

More good news was to follow when PHD retained the ING Direct business and Rocket kept the £60 million Co-op account in a pitch. The agency's only loss came when Alberto Culver bought Simple and rolled it into Carat in an international alignment. Wins included Dyson, Fitness First and Porsche. PHD also has an advantage in content creation via its Drum business. And the quality of PHD's work for the likes of Irn-Bru and Cadbury also stood out.

The management team was stable under the chief executive, Philippa Brown, and the managing director, Daren Rubins. Rubins' ability was recognised early in 2011 when he was promoted to chief executive, leaving Brown to focus on her wider Omnicom Media Group role.

This year, it will be interesting to see to what extent PHD, with its new managing director Frances Ralston-Good on board, can push its pioneering approach into new-media channels, while building on the investment it has made in areas such as direct and search.

Score last year: 7

How PHD Group rates itself: 9

"2009 was a good year for PHD but 2010 was even better. Faced with extraordinary challenges, we stayed true to our principles and looked after our clients and our people. Overall, we've retained more business, converted more new business and created more career opportunities than at any other time in our history. So it is fitting that we celebrate being Agency of the Year on our 20th anniversary - we've never been in better shape."

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