School Reports 2012: Arena Media

Credit should go to Arena Media in 2011 for rolling up its sleeves in an attempt to deliver one of the most transformative years in terms of repackaging its offering.

Recent work for Eurostar
Recent work for Eurostar

Score: 7

Agency fact file: Arena Media
Type of agency Media
Company ownership Havas Media
Key personnel Steve Booth chief executive
  Paul van Barthold chief operating officer
  Pedro Avery chief investment officer
  Pippa Glucklich managing director

Henry Daglish deputy managing director
Nielsen billings 2011 £78m
Nielsen billings 2010 £83m
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 59
Accounts won 14 (biggest: Eurostar)
Accounts lost 1 (Warner Leisure Hotels)
TV 39%
Press 18%
Outdoor 7%
Radio 3%
Digital 33%
Number of staff 142 (+15%)

After finalising the integration of the agency's digital media unit, Quantum, in 2010, Arena decided on the solution of retaining the Arena Quantum brand as a business consultancy service. The agency's new focus on behaviour change is another point of difference.

Meanwhile, the agency's best new-business moment came in June, when it landed the £6.5 million Eurostar business. It also captured the Sports Direct media account and the digital media for Axa's Swiftcover and Axa Direct brands. Arena's only loss was the Warner Leisure Hotels account.

There was flux in the boardroom in its fourth year of Havas ownership: the previously independent shop saw Charlie Makin become the second of three founders (after Nick Lockett) to leave the business. The third founder, Steve Booth, seems likely to stay a while yet.

Dan Clays, the former chief strategy and development officer who was instrumental in the agency's transformation, has since been poached by OMD to be its managing director. The loss of Clays at a time when Arena needs momentum behind its offer seems a real blow, and it will be interesting to see how its senior management team moves things on.

Last year also saw the agency hire Sarah Heyworth from MEC as the head of planning and the former PHD director, Justin Gibbons, as the head of behavioral economics. Arena is not short on talent but needs to work hard to maintain its position in the market.

Score last year: 6

How Arena Media rates itself: 8

"The launch of Arena's new agency positioning around 'partners for now and next' and an entirely unique planning approach incorporating behaviour change principles have been central to a hugely exciting year for us - recording our best-ever year of new business, including the Eurostar account. We started 2011 with clear intent for Arena to stand out for its work and culture, and we are delighted with the results."

Footnote: *indicates where agencies claim the corporate governance constraints of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation.

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