School Reports 2014: Cheil UK

Samsung Galaxy NX
Samsung Galaxy NX

Score: 6  Last year: n/a

Having lived for so long in the long shadow cast by its giant Samsung client, Cheil UK is showing all the signs of an operation that’s impatient to be seen as much more than just the in-house agency of the South Korean electronics giant.

While Samsung – which owns 15 per cent of Cheil Worldwide – continues to be the UK agency’s bedrock client, it showed clear signs of intent in 2013 that it is committed to growing the business through new clients.

Indeed, Cheil UK achieved a significant breakthrough in fulfilling that ambition when it joined the likes of Leo Burnett, Publicis and BETC on the Coca-Cola roster.

Having won the business in a competitive pitch, Cheil UK has been briefed to devise and implement a strategy aimed at re-establishing Coke as the number-one impulse brand in its market.

Further evidence of the agency’s intent came when it provided some of the few bright spots in a year of slim pickings for UK shops at Cannes last year. It scooped one gold and two bronze Lions with the "we are David Bailey" campaign for Samsung’s Galaxy NX smart cameras.

So what sort of agency does Cheil UK want to be as it marks out a future in which its client list isn’t so heavily skewed towards Samsung?

Hirings during 2013 – among them Jon Buckley as Cheil UK’s first head of social and Cyrus Vantoch-Wood as a creative director to bolster its digital capabilities – suggest an agency that’s looking to put social and digital at the heart of an integrated approach.

Matt Pye, having been promoted from managing director to chief operating officer with a brief to grow the business beyond Samsung, will doubtless be hoping that where Coke has led, others will follow.

How Cheil UK rates itself: 7

Cheil UK's year in a Tweet: The fastest growing agency in the land. Looking for Curious Mutants to join the fun @CheilUK

Cheil UK
Type of agency Full service
Company ownership Cheil Worldwide
Key personnel Matt Pye chief operating officer
Chris Chalk chief strategy officer
Logan Wilmont executive creative director
Simon Hathaway global head of retail experience
Daniele Fiandaca head of innovation
Nielsen billings 2013 £49m
Nielsen billings 2012 £57m
Declared income £21m
Total accounts at year end 8
Accounts won 6 (biggest: Coca-Cola)
Accounts lost 0
Number of staff 240 (+33%)

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.