School Reports 2014: The7stars

Daft Punk
Daft Punk

Score: 8  Last year: 7

It was a healthy year of new business and development for the7stars. Billings were up 40 per cent to £90 million in 2013. Staff numbers jumped a substantial 38 per cent, although – as in last year’s School Reports – the agency still has more accounts than employees (just).

Thirteen new accounts and no losses placed it sixth in the media new-business rankings at the end of the year. The most prominent win was the multimillion-pound Payments Council brief.

The7stars also raised its creative bar, including bringing Daft Punk back for its long-time client Sony Music Entertainment. The brief asked the agency to promote the band’s first studio album in eight years solely though "analogue" channels, with not a penny spent on digital or social. Cleverly released teaser information and launch dates drove online chatter, leading to Random Access Memories becoming the fastest-selling album of the decade and the7stars picking up a gold at the Media Week Awards.

HMV emerged from administration and awarded the7stars its media account, kick-starting a bid to revive its fortunes with bold and high-profile media placement.

In an attempt to spread its wings on the global scene without losing its independence, the7stars signed an affiliate deal with IPG Mediabrands to act as the UK arm for its BPN brand. This had yet to lead to any new business at the time of writing.

Led by Jenny Biggam and Mark Jarvis, the7stars also continued its model of backing small agencies. It took a stake in Alpha Century and, together, they launched a digital content joint venture, 8th Wonder.

In an era of consolidation, the7stars is a true independent that has a distinctive, vibrant and apparently successful culture.

How the7stars rates itself: 7

The7stars' year in a Tweet: Independent in spirit, youngish at heart, 2013 was our best year yet. We won, we created, we grew, we were awarded. We truly #gotlucky.

Type of agency Media planning and buying
Company ownership Independent
Key personnel Jenny Biggam founding partner
Mark Jarvis founding partner
Gareth Jones partner
Liam Mullins head of trading
Nick Maddison head of new business
Nielsen billings 2013 £84m
Nielsen billings 2012 £63m
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 81
Accounts won 13 (biggest: Payments Council)
Accounts lost 0
Traditional 66%
Digital 26%
Other 8%
Number of staff 80 (+38%)

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.