School Reports 2014: 18 Feet & Rising

National Trust
National Trust

Score: 7  Last year: 7

18 Feet & Rising had a solid 2013, yet there remains the feeling that, after three years, the agency hasn’t quite fulfilled its promise. It is progressing, but perhaps not as quickly as some had hoped.

While Nationwide has allowed 18 Feet & Rising to demonstrate its craft in an enduring campaign, one calling-card ad or campaign that captures the public’s imagination is all that it would take to push the agency into the big league. That none of the key players has jumped ship, though, suggests they are confident that such a campaign is imminent.

The shop is already making the right noises creatively. The "I oakleaf" campaign for the National Trust was striking and full of charm, while the live and improvised ad break for Kabuto Noodles showed guts, even if the execution didn’t turn as many heads as expected.

Meanwhile, "whimpering chair" for Cuprinol and "no more unsightly cracks" for Polycell, a new client, displayed the kind of irreverence that is the young agency’s stock-in-trade, as well as the creative partner Matt Keon’s penchant for giving his ads an uncomfortable, jarring quality.

In addition to strengthening its relationship with AkzoNobel by landing Polycell, 18 Feet & Rising also won a pitch for the cider brand Kopparberg and earned a place on the roster of the restaurant chain Nando’s. Overall, it was a decent enough, if unspectacular, year in terms of new business.

Getting on the pitchlist for the Dixons ad account – alongside Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and M&C Saatchi – was a real achievement. If it had converted this, that really would have propelled the shop to the next level. 18 Feet & Rising says it was dismissed due to its size, which should give its management food for thought. Having brushed off rumours of a sale, coyly declaring that the agency would remain independent "for now", one questions whether this step up will now happen in 2014.

How 18 Feet & Rising rates itself: 7

18 Feet & Rising's year in a Tweet: If anyone wants proof that advertising bods are sleep-deprived speed fiends, I refer you to @18feetandrising

18 Feet & Rising
Type of agency Advertising
Company ownership Independent
Key personnel Jon Busk managing director
Matt Keon creative partner
Tim Millar strategy partner
Jonathan Trimble chief executive
Rob Ward head of strategy
Nielsen billings 2013 £22m
Nielsen billings 2012 £21m
Declared income £2.8m
Total accounts at year end 12
Accounts won 3 (biggest: Kopparberg)
Accounts lost 0
Number of staff 33 (+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.