School Reports 2014: Krow Communications


Score: 5  Last year: 6

Having spent a large part of 2012 swallowing its newly arrived £84 million business from DFS – a client known to have caused serious indigestion among agencies that have supped with it previously – Krow Communications emerged last year with its appetite seemingly unimpaired.

The danger is that labour-intensive accounts such as DFS can swamp agencies of Krow’s size. Yet, during 2013, it showed itself capable of being more than just an "ad factory" for the furniture retailer with some new clients, a broadened offering and talked-about creative work.

Indeed, the agency ended the year on a head of steam, having been handed an early Christmas present by Virgin Trains, which picked Krow to handle its ad business after a three-way pitch.

And if the accounts of Nando’s and SSE, the energy provider, eluded it – 18 Feet & Rising took the former, Adam&Eve/DDB the latter – there were some compensations.

Maplin, the electrical retailer, joined the client roster along with the arts-and-crafts retailer Hobbycraft, which appointed Krow to oversee its first significant foray into advertising backed by a £2 million budget. Meanwhile, NetJets, the private aviation company, is getting the agency’s help with its digital content.

Significantly, last year saw Krow up its game in the digital sphere by taking over Clusta, the full-service interactive agency, which had gone into administration after experiencing cash-flow problems.

Creatively, the agency not only kept up some good work for DFS – never an easy thing to do – but added to its body of innovative work for Fiat, most notably with its "paper doll" execution for the Fiat 500, which made it into Campaign’s list of last year’s top ten outdoor ads.

Success in the Virgin Trains pitch, where Krow saw off big-leaguers such as M&C Saatchi and Crispin Porter & Bogusky, proves that the agency is capable of punching above its weight. Now Krow must show it can stay in the ring.

How Krow Communications rates itself: 8

Krow Communications' year in a Tweet: Great work, 4 wins (Virgin, Maplin, Netjets, Hobbycraft) no losses, up to no21 in Campaign top 100. Reasons to be cheerful. Bring on 2014!

Krow Communications
Type of agency Integrated communications
Company ownership Independent
Key personnel Barry Cook founder (business director)
Nick Hastings founder (creative)
John Quarrey founder (business director)
Malcolm White founder (planning)
Will Saunders managing partner (business planning)
Nielsen billings 2013 £114m
Nielsen billings 2012 £109m
Declared income £7m
Total accounts at year end 24
Accounts won 4 (biggest: Virgin Trains)
Accounts lost 0
Number of staff 75 (+15%)

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.