School Reports 2011: The Union

Not a big name in London ad circles, The Union is a sizeable enough business with income of £5 million in 2010. Its low profile is largely because Leeds is the furthest south the agency has travelled (it has offices there and in Edinburgh) and probably says much about the insular nature of the capital's ad industry.

Recent The Union work: STV
Recent The Union work: STV

Score: 6

Agency fact file: The Union
Type of agency Integrated marketing communications
Company ownership Independent
Key personnel Ian McAteer managing director
  Andrew Lindsay executive creative director
  Michael Hart creative director
  Mark Reid planning director
  Beverley Hart deputy managing director
The Nielsen Company billings 2010 £20m
The Nielsen Company billings 2009 £19m
Declared income £5m
Total accounts at year end 36
Accounts won 3 (biggest: Braehead Shopping Centre)
Accounts lost 1 (Historic Scotland)
Number of staff 64 (-9%)

How many adlanders will have noticed, for example, that The Union scooped three golds, four silvers and two bronzes at the Marketing Society Awards and was named its agency of the year in 2010? Or that it topped the Scottish Ad Awards with nine awards and 11 commendations? And the agency's World Cup work for STV won the Chairman's Award on the night.

Having said all that, The Union's new-business performance last year did little to boost its profile. Happily, its only loss was Historic Scotland after a roster review. The biggest wins of the year were the Braehead Shopping Centre and the hotel group Principal Hayley. Others were projects from TUI, the Gleneagles/Ryder Cup 2014, the coffee brand Matthew Algie and additional work from existing client Clydesdale Bank.

Its management team remained stable and attracted the business development director, Karen Andre, from Leith's direct agency Tangible to join Union Direct. But total staff numbers were down by nearly 9 per cent.

The business, which is celebrating its 15-year anniversary in 2011, expanded last year by partnering with Data Lateral to offer data, profiling and segmentation services alongside the four-pronged integrated approach it already delivered via The Union, Union Direct, Union Digital and Union Connect (sales promotion and field marketing). Ian McAteer, the managing director and group chairman, has high hopes for more awards in 2011 but The Union's big challenge will be to move forward when public sector cuts bite.

Score last year: 6

How The Union rates itself: 6

"We look back on 2010 with considerable satisfaction: we retained clients, with only one loss. Not a vintage new-business year - but we were delighted to win Braehead, Scotland's largest shopping centre, and Principal Hayley, the adventurous hotel group. Our dominance at the Marketing Society Awards and yet another good year at the Scottish Ad Awards maintained our position as a market-leading agency. We're positive about 2011, despite the undoubted challenges of public sector cutbacks."

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