School Reports 2014: TBWA UK


Score: 5  Last year: 6

The wage bill for TBWA\London’s creative department must surely be high enough to make even Manchester City’s paymasters blanche. Whether, like Man City, the agency can build a consistently successful team by throwing lots of money at it remains to be seen.

Certainly, the two are similar in having packed their squads with stars with the salaries to match. And both have seen themselves reach heady positions in their respective leagues.

TBWA has yet to completely lose its reputation for revolving-door management – Lindsey Evans quit as the UK group president to return to Australia after just nine months, with the role since filled by Richard Stainer – and an indifferent record of trying to "buy" growth and creative potency. Yet it found itself ending the year second only to VCCP in Campaign’s new-business rankings, having spent months actually leading the field.

Its leading position was largely sustained by the capture of Lidl’s £21 million UK account as the discount retailer attempts to turn itself into a more potent competitor to Aldi.

There were some other high-profile wins too – most notably Drinkaware, the alcohol-education organisation, and the Labour Party, which handed the shop a £5 million task of running its advertising for the upcoming General Election.

To bed in the business, TBWA simply augmented its eye-wateringly expensive team. In January, Paul Belford was appointed as a creative director to work across the client base. He was followed eight months later by Paul Weinberger, long synonymous with Tesco, to handle Lidl.

This year, the agency needs to start showing some tangible returns to justify its creative investment. At present, the signs of a widespread creative revival – aside from some adequate Adidas work – remain hard to detect.

How TBWA UK rates itself: 7

TBWA UK's year in a Tweet: From bagging @Lidl_UK to #jumpwithdrose, we’ve celebrated a fair few times this year. Responsibly, of course (@drinkaware).

Type of agency Advertising
Company ownership Omnicom
Key personnel Peter Souter chairman and chief
creative officer
Adam Stagliano chief strategy officer
Gary Smith chief financial officer
Fergus McCallum chief executive, Manchester
Jeremy Carr executive creative director
Nielsen billings 2013 £111m
Nielsen billings 2012 £119m
Declared income n/s*
Total accounts at year end 34
Accounts won 7 (biggest: Lidl)
Accounts lost 1 (Tena)
Number of staff n/s*

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.