School Reports 2014: AKQA

Nike+ Kinect Training
Nike+ Kinect Training

Score: 8  Last year: 8

AKQA performed well in its first full year under the WPP banner, making it a runner-up for Campaign’s Digital Agency of the Year in 2013 and only let down by a poor submission.

The shop boasted an 85 per cent pitch-success rate and captured 14 new clients, including being made the digital agency of record across Northern Europe for Beiersdorf.

New wins contributed £10.6 million to its £54.7 million revenue, brought in by key clients including Google, Unilever, Volkswagen, Audi, Nike, Fiat and EDF Energy.  

AKQA consistently produces solid digital work for clients. It social media activity behind the Nike Hypervenom made this the most successful launch of a football boot without a TV ad in the brand’s history.

The trophy cupboard also filled up after the agency enjoyed its most successful year at Cannes to date. It won 14 Lions, seven of which were for work launched in London. These included a gold Cyber Lion for Nike+ Kinect Training and a Titanium and Integrated Lion for Nike "find your greatness". It also won Digital Agency of the Year at the Rev Awards.

In September, AKQA hired Ian Wharton as the creative director, reporting to the co-founder and chief creative officer, James Hilton. Wharton joined from the software publishing company Zolmo. Simon Spaull was hired from TBG as the general manager to focus on developing client relationships worldwide, Ron Peterson joined from TBWA\Digital Arts Network to head the social practice and Laura Stewart was appointed the head of business transformation.

AKQA is good at holding on to talent – 25 per cent of those who have worked there for five years or longer and 24 per cent of those based in the UK office were promoted last year, including Ben Jones, who became the chief technology officer, and Sam Kelly, who became the head of business development and marketing. However, Guy Wieynk chose to walk in early 2014 after 16 years at the agency.

The agency opened its 11th office – in Tokyo – with Nissan and Nike as its founding clients. It is planning to launch in Brazil and India this year.

How AKQA rates itself: n/s

AKQA's year in a Tweet: n/s

Type of agency Digital
Company ownership WPP
Key personnel Ajaz Ahmed co-founder and CEO
Tom Bedecarré chairman
Lester Feintuck chief financial officer
James Hilton co-founder and chief creative officer
Declared income £54.7m
Total accounts at year end 38
Accounts won 14 (biggest: Beiersdorf)
Accounts lost 0
Number of staff 440 (+16%)

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.