School Reports 2015: Proximity London


Score: 8  Last year: 8

It’s small comfort, but Proximity London only just missed out on scooping our coveted Customer Engagement Agency of the Year accolade, coming a close second to Lida. A combination of much-improved creative output and a stable, unified management team led by the serious-minded chief executive, Mike Dodds, resulted in eight new pieces of business and contributed to a 25 per cent in growth in the agency over the past two years.

New business included the CRM accounts for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Halifax and Seat. It also won the digital acquisition business for The Economist.  The wins meant Proximity saw a £23.5 million bounty in new billings, triggering 67 new hires – making London the biggest office in the Proximity network. Although the net gain was a more modest 10 per cent as other left the shop.

The executive creative director, John Treacy, poached the AIS deputy executive creative director, John Vinton, to become a creative partner. Matt North from Wunderman and Olly Guest from DigitasLBi also joined, as a planning director and a board account director respectively.

Creative highlights included work for RNLI, which involved a moving campaign stressing the plight of children in danger of drowning in Asia and Africa. Separately,  "beach smart" for the organisation exceeded targets, highlighting the role of lifeguards. The work was awarded at the DMAs, where Proximity won three silvers and three bronzes for TV Licensing, Kenco and Procter & Gamble.

Last year, Proximity also launched Bureau, a content division.  Its only downside was the loss of LeasePlan UK. It also resigned Cognizant.

2014 can be remembered as an impressive year and, with a few more awards and innovative work under its belt, Proximity London will be a real contender for the top prize again.

How the agency scores itself: 9

How the agency rates itself: This was our best year ever. We were a new-business top-ten agency all year long. We were braver, smarter, more inspired. Our new-generation thinking produced breathtaking creative campaigns, rewriting the CRM rulebook for SSE, Kenco, The Economist, and RNLI. We welcomed almost 70 new hires. Not just industry heavyweights such as Andy Todd and Nick Baker, but intriguing new talents to add fresh thinking and energy.

Proximity London
Type of agency Digital and direct
Company ownership Omnicom
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 65
Accounts won 8 (biggest: Halifax)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: Cognizant – resigned)
Number of staff 281 (+10%)
Key personnel Mike Dodds chief executive
Lou Barber chairman
John Treacy executive creative director
Gabrielle Moss managing director
Sharon Whale deputy chairman

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.