School Reports 2013: Lean Mean Fighting Machine


Score: 8  Last year: 7

Lean Mean Fighting Machine is an unusual agency – its spirit of independence, honesty and unconventional nature is fun. And we like that.

It makes the industry a more interesting and less pompous place. It’s the sort of agency that you would like to go out for a drink with.

So it was particularly pleasing that an agency that sometimes cocks a snook at its larger, more corporate rivals had such a successful 2012 that saw it shortlisted for Campaign’s Digital Agency of the Year. LMFM’s independent, unconventional spirit meant that it was producing work that clients liked and bought into, and resulted in new business and a hefty increase in headcount.

The year got off to a healthy start when LMFM picked up the social media account for Vimto – a relative minnow, maybe – but it allowed for some particularly creative first work with a Vimto’s "mixed up messages" campaign for Valentine’s Day.

Bigger things were to come. A cross-portfolio digital brief from Heineken International soon followed, while it triumphed in pitches for Unicef and Domestos against network agencies including Lowe Worldwide, and it also won some Wall’s business from SapientNitro and De Beers from AKQA. In addition, LMFM extended its relationship with Unilever with further accounts including Flora pro.activ. Only three accounts went out the door, including Snuggle, which stopped using digital, and Betclic, which moved its creative in-house.

Among its creative highlights was the roulette-style "flush of fortune" work for Domestos and an installation on the South Bank for World Toilet Day that featured a 5.5 metre-high statue of a man having a shit to symbolise the plight of the 2.6 billion people for whom access to basic sanitation is denied.

LMFM contributes much to the vitality of the agency world – long may it continue to do so.

Lean Mean Fighting Machine
Type of agency Digital
Company ownership Independent
Key personnel Tom Bazeley managing partner
Sam Ball creative partner
Dave Bedwood creative partner
Dave Cox technical partner
Declared income £2.5m
Total accounts at year end 13
Accounts won 8 (biggest: De Beers)
Accounts lost 3 (biggest: Betclic)
Number of staff 38 (+31%)

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 Lean Mean Fighting Machine scores itself: 8

"Deep in digital adland, lying nestled amongst the detritus of jargon, hyperbole and self-proclaimed gurus, you’ll find an agency that talks to you like you’re a normal person, knows its left from right and right from wrong. The people that work there understand what to take seriously (work) and what not to (themselves). They enjoyed 2012 immensely. Especially the Olympics."