School Reports 2014: Proximity London

John Lewis
John Lewis

Score: 8  Last year: 6

Proximity London last year began reaping a harvest from the seeds it sowed during 2012, a relatively fallow period in which more emphasis was put on getting its internal structure right, rather than going in for serious account hunting. Doing the necessary groundwork has clearly paid dividends: the agency entered 2013 with a claimed record of 16 straight pitch wins (many of which it can’t disclose).

What’s the secret? The agency puts much of it down to the way it has evolved its thinking about CRM. At the same time, though, it has made significant new hirings across the board, most notably John Treacy, formerly the Elvis executive creative director. He was appointed in August as a replacement for Caitlin Ryan, who took creative command at Karmarama and was succeeded on an interim basis at Proximity by the AIS co-founder Steve Stretton.

At the same time, the agency bolstered its analytical firepower with the recruitment of Amanda Arthur from Havas EHS to take over the running of the 23-strong data and analytics team, with a particular focus on BBC TV Licensing, which Proximity has handled for more than a decade.

Certainly, the emphasis on getting its offering right has paid off. Among the significant wins Proximity chalked up during the year was the CRM account of John Lewis, which picked the agency after a four-way pitch to handle – among other things – the launch of its My John Lewis card. Another well-known arrival was Oxfam, with which Proximity is working to deliver an integrated activation strategy aimed at boosting the number of donors and driving income growth.

With a broad base of talent – and a client list to match – Proximity has reason enough to look forward to the year ahead with confidence.

How Proximiy London rates itself: 8

Proximity London's year in a Tweet: Marked 2013 with 16 pitch wins, radical new CRM thinking, Lloyds rebrand, My John Lewis launch, topped off with poaching John Treacy.

Proximity London
Type of agency Direct and digital
Company ownership Omnicom
Key personnel Mike Dodds chief executive
Lou Barber chairman
John Treacy executive creative director
Gabrielle Moss managing director
Sharon Whale deputy chairman
Nielsen billings 2013 £7m
Nielsen billings 2012 £14m
Declared income n/s*
Total accounts at year end 59
Accounts won 7 (biggest: John Lewis)
Accounts lost 3 (biggest: Orange)
Number of staff 252 (+8%)

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.


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