School Reports 2015: Stack


Score: 5  Last year: 5

Stack began 2014 by rebranding from CMW. It started 2015 by restructuring its management team.

Ben Stephens, the co-founder and former managing partner of VCCP me, was brought in as the executive chairman to oversee all of the agency’s strategy and operations. Liz Wilson, who has run Stack as the chief executive since joining from Albion in 2011, departed in January this year.

Wilson was hired to modernise the then CMW and improve its integrated offering, but the owners at MSQ Partners have reversed that strategy and the shop will now go back to focusing on CRM and data.

Nothing dramatic happened to Stack’s performance last year to prompt the holding company to redirect its energies, even if the numbers were down on 2013. Income fell from £5.1 million to £4.6 million and staff numbers dropped from 79 to 70 – although the agency claims to have offset the latter by collaborating more with other MSQ operations.

Some of the staff decline can be attributed to the departure of McCain’s digital business to TMW in May, but Stack has been picking up accounts to make up for the loss. New clients include Cafédirect, Interflora and Two Cocks Brewery, and it also won a place on the BBC’s digital roster.

Stack continued to produce digital work for Nivea, despite its parent company, Beiersdorf, appointing AKQA as its digital agency of record for Northern Europe in 2013. Activity for the brand included "Redknapp’s grassroots roundup", which enabled amateur footballers to send their team-mates a personalised dressing down from Jamie Redknapp, and "life hacks", which offered tips to men in a series of online films.

With Wilson gone, we’ll get a measure of Stephens’ mettle this year and see if he can achieve something more spectacular.

How the agency scores itself: 6

How the agency rates itself: In Stack’s first year, we got our heads down to produce effective, innovative work using the full marketing stack – creativity, technology, data – including proprietary product for ourselves, Nivea Men and Peugeot. Appointed to the Beiersdorf global roster and the BBC’s digital roster, we also won new business from Interflora, Cafédirect, The Trussell Trust and Two Cocks. In 2015, we’ll continue investing in our direct and data skills to stay modern, sharp and ahead of the curve.

Type of agency Integrated
Company ownership MSQ Partners
Declared income £4.6m
Total accounts at year end 13
Accounts won 6 (biggest: Nivea)
Accounts lost 1 (McCain)
Number of staff 70 (-11%)
Key personnel Ben Stephens executive chairman
Iain Hunter executive creative director
Donald Cameron strategy director
Rod Jones client service director
Ash Shah finance 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.