School Reports 2013: Glue Isobar

Royal Bank of Scotland/NatWest
Royal Bank of Scotland/NatWest

Score: 5  Last year: 7

Last year saw the beginnings of an overhaul of the Aegis-owned agency following the arrival of the chief executive Penny Herriman in January. Mark Cridge, the global managing director of Aegis Media’s Isobar network and the founder of Glue, departed, as did the executive creative director, Seb Royce, and the chief innovation officer, Niku Banaie.

So it was out with the old and in with the new, as Patricia McDonald, previously the head of digital strategy at CHI & Partners, took up the role of chief strategy officer in May. The agency also hired Rick Williams, the creative development director at AKQA, as its chief technology officer. In February 2013, the agency completed its line-up with the appointment of Nick Bailey from AKQA Amsterdam as the executive creative director.

The agency grew its business by extending existing client relationships with Google and Kellogg, including taking a European role for Google’s Play, Nexus and Google+ and becoming the global digital lead for the Kellogg-owned Krave and All-Bran brands. It also became the lead digital agency for advertisers including The Guardian and Pringles. However, the shop suffered a major loss in the shape of the Royal Bank of Scotland/NatWest business that was consolidated into the client’s above-the-line agency, M&C Saatchi, after a pitch.

Glue Isobar launched a new innovation unit, called Isobar Nowlab, which launched an event called Isobar Create London, a 36-hour near field communication "hackathon" in partnership with O2 that brought together developers and designers. The agency was also recognised at the Campaign Big Awards when it won a silver in the Interactive category for work on NatWest and a joint gold with Grey for its work on the British Heart Foundation’s "hard and fast" campaign in the Direct category.

With a fresh senior line-up now in place and a renewed energy, the agency is well placed to move on from a tricky period to a new era without the leaders of Glue.

Glue Isobar
Type of agency Digital
Company ownership Aegis Media
Key personnel Penny Herriman chief executive
Wayne Brown managing director
Nick Bailey executive creative director
Rick Williams chief technology officer
Patricia McDonald chief strategy officer
Declared income n/s*
Total accounts at year end 18
Accounts won 5 (biggest: Pringles)
Accounts lost 1 (Royal Bank of Scotland/NatWest)
Number of staff 136 (no change)

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 Glue Isobar rates itself: 7

"2012 was a pivotal year for us, focused on positive change and renewal, setting ourselves up for the next decade. Full credit to our senior team who - despite only being together for a short time - won numerous new clients towards the end of the year, including Pringles, whilst extending relationships with Google and Kellogg’s. We also launched Isobar Nowlab, created the UK’s first NFC hackathon and did award-winning work on The Guardian and Auto Trader."