School Reports 2011: Poke

Poke, mindful that digital agencies need to offer that bit more to keep clients interested these days, applied its digital creative wizardry at the heart of clients' business problems. For example, it established a new customer service team for Orange that uses social media to proactively resolve customer problems. As well as coming up with the strategy, the agency helped recruit the team.

Recent Poke work: Orange
Recent Poke work: Orange

Score: 6

Agency fact file: Poke
Type of agency Ideas-driven, digital creative
Company ownership Founding partners and Mother
Key personnel Nick Farnhill founding partner
  Nik Roope founding partner
  Peter Beech founding partner
  Tom Hostler founding partner
Declared income £4.7m (unaudited)
Total accounts at year end 17
Accounts won 4 (biggest: Contiki)
Accounts lost 1 (Barnardo's – resigned)
Number of staff 54 (+8%)

Poke also developed an online direct sales channel for French Connection, called "YouTique', which allows customers to buy clothes via the ads.

Other outstanding work included the Orange "Glastotag" campaign, which set the world record for the most-tagged photo. The campaign allowed the brand to interact with the 7,000-plus people who tagged themselves and a wider audience of Facebook users. Another novel idea was the "bakerTweet" Twitter tool the agency developed to alert customers when freshly baked goods were coming out of Albion Bakery in Shoreditch. On a grander scale, the agency also launched the Skype Mobile app and created a popular, content-rich website for the Virgin Formula One team.

Poke bases its business model around organic growth, rather than chasing new-business prospects, and it added business from clients including Orange, French Connection and Skype in 2010. All the more impressive when you consider the agency waved goodbye to two founding partners in the space of a year. Simon Waterfall left the agency in 2009, only to be followed by Iain Tait, who left to join Wieden & Kennedy at the beginning of 2010.

Nicolas Roope and Nick Farnhill, two of the Poke London founders, remained to lead the agency through a year that defied expectations.

Score last year: 7

How Poke rates itself: 8

"2010 gave us plenty to be happy about. We increased our fee income and produced some great work, including a world record-breaking GlastoTag for Orange, which continues to hand us juicy communications challenges. We've helped Skype to redesign, which will get more than one billion unique visitors this year. We've added Ferrero's Tic Tac, the travel specialist Contiki, and the Swedish insurance giant If to our client list. We also helped launch and chaired Internet Week."

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