School Reports 2015: AKQA


Score: 8  Last year: 8

AKQA kicked off 2014 with elan, having been responsible for the world’s first multisensory fireworks display for Vodafone Firsts as part of the London New Year’s Eve celebrations. Its year continued in a similarly upbeat fashion and ended with revenues growing by 10 per cent.

Among the creatively interesting projects the agency undertook were "House of Mamba" for Nike Rise, the first-ever interactive LED basketball court, and Winterlands, a mobile experience that allows users to send holiday greetings in a 3D snow globe. The work did not go unheard in the industry either. AKQA picked up a Queen’s Award for Enterprise and was once again a runner-up in Campaign’s Digital Innovation Agency of the Year.

In terms of new business, AKQA picked up briefs from clients including the BBC, Bupa, Eurostar, GlaxoSmithKline, Levi’s and Marks & Spencer.

International expansion was also on the cards with the launch of an office in Brazil’s São Paulo led by Hugo Veiga and Diego Machado, who created the award-winning "real beauty sketches" for Dove while they were at Ogilvy Brasil. AKQA also officially launched an office in Gurgaon, India, in the summer. The change to WPP ownership has started to have an impact.

However, James Hilton, the co-founder and chief creative officer, left the agency after 20 years to establish his own interior and product design company. He handed over the reins to Rei Inamoto, who used to lead AKQA’s creative output in the US and Asia. Guy Wieynk, the vice-president, international, moved on to join Publicis. Another long-term employee, Jason Warnes, the managing director and global head of talent, also left after 15 years to join TH_NK as its managing director.

The impact of these departures is unclear so far. But the overall impression is an agency that continues to go from strength to strength through clever innovation and distinctive creative work.

How the agency scores itself: 8

How the agency rates itself: Surpassing industry expectations by winning the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise – the highest accolade that a UK business can receive – defined last year in AKQA’s journey. Highlights included the "House of Mamba" for Nike Rise and partnering with Dyson to develop mobile software for the Dyson 360 Eye robot. AKQA welcomed in a new generation of creative and management leadership and opened new offices in Gurgaon, India and São Paulo, Brazil.

Type of agency Digital and innovation
Company ownership WPP
Declared income n/s*
Total accounts at year end 47
Accounts won 9 (biggest: Bupa)
Accounts lost 0
Number of staff 523 (+19%)
Key personnel Ajaz Ahmed chief executive
Rei Inamoto chief creative officer
Duan Evans international executive creative director
Amanda Morrissey general manager, London
Ron Peterson general manager, London

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.