School Reports 2014: Mcgarrybowen


Score: 5  Last year: 6

Mcgarrybowen lacked leadership in 2013, after key members of its senior staff headed for the door, so it was all change on the management floor.  The respected chairman, Jim Kelly, stepped down in March – an indication, he said, that the transition from Dentsu London to Mcgarrybowen had been completed more quickly than anticipated. The strategy director, Beeker Northam, opted not to return after maternity leave, and her maternity cover, Lori Meakin, left to found Joint. In February, the agency poached Kevin Chesters from Wieden & Kennedy to fill the role permanently.

In May, Ida Rezvani, the managing director, left to take up the same role at its New York office. This void wasn’t filled until October, when the agency hired the likeable yet relatively untried Rick Hirst, Engine’s client managing director and a former Campaign Face to Watch, as the chief executive.

Despite all these changes, Mcgarrybowen won four new clients – Fujitsu, Branston, Sarson’s and Haywards – and retained (apparently) all its existing ones. That said, its long-standing client Canon, for which it had worked since 2000, kicked off a review. The result was an estimated £50 million EMEA account going to JWT in October, while Mcgarrybowen was retained on a smaller, strategic account – and who knows what that will really amount to?

The deal between Mcgarrybowen’s parent company, Dentsu, and Aegis completed in the spring. The impact of the new partnerships this could offer was felt when Mcgarrybowen pitched and won Fujitsu’s global account, alongside the media agency Carat. Creatively, the agency produced Branston pickle’s first TV ad in five years and carried out work for Honda.

With a new injection of energy and leadership from Hirst, 2014 should be a brighter year. Less reliance on clients with a Japanese heritage or ownership would finally allow it to make the mark on the UK market that has hitherto alluded the agency.

How Mcgarrybowen rates itself: 7

Mcgarrybowen's year in a Tweet: Very proud of 2013. Made our best work yet, grew client list and completed mgmt team. New year, new opportunities. Let’s get on with it.

Type of agency Integrated
Company ownership Dentsu Aegis Network
Key personnel Rick Hirst chief executive
Kevin Chesters executive planning director
Paul Jordan executive creative director
Angus Macadam executive creative director
Nielsen billings 2013 £16m
Nielsen billings 2012 £14m
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 14
Accounts won 4 (biggest: Branston)
Accounts lost 0
Number of staff 50 (+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.