School Reports 2015: Mcgarrybowen


Score: 6  Last year: 6

Mcgarrybowen had a stronger year than 2013. The chief executive, Rick Hirst, finally made his presence felt by getting the agency on a range of pitches in 2014 – a historical weakness – and it welcomed several (albeit relatively small-spending) clients to the fold.

These included the pan-European advertising account for the holiday rental website HouseTrip after a pitch against BMB and The Brooklyn Brothers, and the advertising account for BSkyB’s gambling service Sky Bet.

It also picked up new work from existing clients, including a pan-European ad campaign for Tassimo, Mondelez International’s answer to the Nespresso coffee machine, in March. The spot, called "be indecisive", showed a man getting ready for work and highlighted the machine’s versatility by showing all the types of hot drinks it can make.

The agency’s notable pieces of creative work showed the management team has gelled – its charming print campaign for Sarson’s was named one of Campaign’s top ten print ads of 2014 – and its "illusions" campaign for Honda won one gold and one bronze Lion at Cannes in the Film category. (However, we should point out that its irritating work for Sky Bet also made it into Campaign’s top ten Turkeys of the year.)

By year-end, Mcgarrybowen had made a string of mid-tier appointments to strengthen its creative and planning output, including Ellie Beecroft from Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R as a planning director, and McCann London’s creative group heads, Mark McCall and Richard Dorey as creative directors.

In 2014, Mcgarrybowen laid a solid foundation from which to grow this year. Let’s hope it doesn’t let the opportunity slip.

How the agency scores itself: 6

How the agency rates itself: We were really pleased with our progress. We managed to host The Apprentice without being ridiculed and we bucked the trend of US agencies struggling in the UK. Our new-business success helped us to grow our revenue and we now have a profitable business with solid foundations to build on in 2015. The next phase will see us say goodbye to Hills Place with a move to a new HQ, and the not-so-small task of bedding in all the new-business wins.

Type of agency Advertising
Company ownership Dentsu Aegis Network
Nielsen billings 2014 £20m
Nielsen billings 2013 £16m
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 20
Accounts won 8 (biggest: Western Union)
Accounts lost 0
Number of staff 60 (+20%)
Key personnel Rick Hirst chief executive
Kevin Chesters executive planning director
Paul Jordan executive creative director
Angus Macadam executive creative director

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.