School Reports 2014: Dare

Public Health England
Public Health England

Score: 5  Last year: 5

If Dare struggled to come into its own in 2012, the agency also found itself challenged in 2013. On a brighter note, it did lay some decent foundations for 2014.

A host of changes followed the arrival of The Red Brick Road founder Paul Hammersley as the group chief executive of Dare’s parent company, EDC Communications, in January. Hammersley immediately let slip that Flo Heiss, the executive creative director, was moving to an innovation role. Then, in February, he had to start looking for a chief executive after Lee Leggett resigned to follow her husband, Jaimes, to Australia.

Leigh Thomas, the client-focused head of account management at Saatchi & Saatchi, was a solid appointment as the chief executive. Thomas brought in Sean Thompson, most recently a managing partner at Arnold Amsterdam and the recipient of a Cannes Lion Grand Prix for his Honda work when at Wieden & Kennedy London, as the chief creative officer. Then, John Owen, Dare’s deputy chairman, moved to chief strategy officer to complete the senior management team (alongside the personable managing director, Toby Horry).

Losses included’s £40 million ad account, which moved to Fold7, and Tetley tea, which Dare declined to repitch for. It claims neither was particularly profitable for the agency, but to lose your biggest TV accounts is not great for the public image, even for a forward-thinking agency such as Dare.

The shop launched good, innovative campaigns for Public Health England and Metro, expanded its work for current clients including Barclays and brought in profitable new digital business, such as the EE account, but there is a long way yet to go. The new management team needs to deliver additional new business and oversee more exciting work for Dare’s score to improve.

How Dare rates itself: 7

Dare's year in a Tweet: New management team, new work, new business, clear vision, new energy

Type of agency Creative
Company ownership EDC Communications
Key personnel Leigh Thomas chief executive
John Owen chief strategy officer
Sean Thompson chief creative officer
Toby Horry managing director
Nielsen billings 2013 £77m
Nielsen billings 2012 £85m
Declared income £19m
Total accounts at year end 18
Accounts won 5 (biggest: EE)
Accounts lost 3 (biggest:
Number of staff 168 (-10%)

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.