School Reports 2013: AKQA


Score: 8  Last year: 9

To say 2012 was a big year for AKQA is an understatement. After years of on-and-off talks with various suitors, the digital agency finally sold to Sir Martin Sorrell’s WPP for a whopping £345 million.

The deal was sealed during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity week in June, when AKQA also managed to pick up a silver Design Lion for its Nike+ FuelStation work and a bronze in the Mobile category for its Under The Thumb app for MTV – a new client for the agency.

Much of the early part of 2012 was spent building up to that big moment. However, AKQA still managed to continue its international expansion plans by launching offices in Paris and Portland to service Nike.

AKQA’s work remained strong, with its creativity again raising industry standards.

Aside from the award-winning Nike+ and MTV activity, other notable work included Nike’s "#make it count" Olympic campaign, a collaboration with Wieden & Kennedy, and the Nissan Leaf campaign.

The agency also boasted a strong new-business record, winning work from Barclays, Google, Lancôme, Mini, MTV and Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

However, it wasn’t a total bed of roses for the agency, which lost the bulk of its De Beers account to Lean Mean Fighting Machine – although it continues to work on a portion of the business.

There were also some high-profile departures, such as its head of planning, Rachel Lawlan, who joined Saatchi & Saatchi. The creative development director, Rick Williams, and the managing director of mobile, Daniel Rosen, also left, for Glue Isobar and Joule respectively.

That said, AKQA appointed Matthew Bagwell to the new position of head of strategy services in a bid to evolve its planning approach.

All in all, 2012 was a great year for AKQA, albeit one in which its UK agency seemed to not quite hit the highs of 2011. Looking forward, with a strong management team led by the founder, Ajaz Ahmed, AKQA is in a good place to continue its path of innovation.

Type of agency Digital
Company ownership WPP
Key personnel Ajaz Ahmed co-founder and CEO
Tom Bedecarré chairman
Lester Feintuck chief financial officer
Guy Wieynk vice-president, international
James Hilton co-founder and chief creative officer
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 30
Accounts won 6 (biggest: n/s)
Accounts lost 0
Number of staff 380 (+9%)

Score key: 9 Outstanding 8 Excellent 7 Good 6 Satisfactory 5 Adequate 4 Below average 3 Poor 2 A year to forget 1 Survival in question

How AKQA rates itself: 9

"AKQA made history, winning eight agency of the year titles, opened four new offices and being recognised as the world’s most awarded digital agency. We launched the national best-seller, Velocity: The Seven New Laws for a World Gone Digital, representing a landmark collaboration of agency and client, donating all our proceeds to youth homeless and global healthcare charities. We also joined WPP and are excited about where it will help take us next on our journey."