School Reports 2013: Arena Media


Score: 5  Last year: 7

Last year was not the happiest for Arena Media as the once independent and now Havas-owned agency lost several of its talented staff.

Dan Clays was the first out of the door at the turn of 2012, when it was announced that he would be leaving his chief strategy officer role and moving to OMD to become its managing director. Soon afterwards, Arena announced the departure of the chief operating officer, Paul van Barthold. The agency then unveiled a new management line-up, with Pippa Glucklich as the chief operating officer and Pedro Avery, previously the head of trading, as the managing director.

This didn’t last long. By the autumn, it was revealed that Glucklich had been poached by Starcom MediaVest Group. As if this wasn’t enough of a headache for the chief executive, Steve Booth, around the same time the agency’s head of planning, Sarah Heyworth, decided to opt out of the industry altogether. By the end of the year, Arena had also lost Seth Ball, its insight director, who was poached by PHD.

Thank goodness, then, for the bright and dynamic Justin Gibbons, the agency’s creative director, who also seems to have taken over the planning responsibilities left behind by Heyworth. Arena didn’t suffer new business-wise, showing a gain of ten accounts with wins including Betfair, Tesco’s Blinkbox and ZSL. Its two losses were both tourist boards – Visit Wales and Norway Innovation – but neither were big spenders. In terms of work, there were campaigns from Domino’s Pizza and Eurostar.

Arena’s key challenge in 2013 will be retaining and nurturing skilled employees in the wake of the talent exodus of 2012.

Arena Media
Type of agency Media
Company ownership Havas
Key personnel Steve Booth chief executive
Pedro Avery managing director
Justin Gibbons creative director
Gary Greasby finance director
Henry Daglish deputy managing director
Nielsen billings 2012 £81m
Nielsen billings 2011 £78m
Declared income n/s*
Total accounts at year end 56
Accounts won 12 (biggest: Blinkbox)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: Norway Innovation)
Number of staff 148 (+6%)

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

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

How Arena rates itself: 6

"Arena already feels like a different place. The agency's direction of travel is now to a more creative and inspiring destination.  We are attracting new types of people into the business; Mark Holden joins from PHD to be our first head of futures and we’ve recently added insight business Work Research into our Arena Media offering."