School Reports 2015: Now

Kelly Hoppen
Kelly Hoppen

Score: 6  Last year: 7

Now came within a whisker of game-changing new-business wins in its third year of existence.

The agency first made the industry take notice when it got down to the final two for the £55 million Argos account, before losing in a shoot-out to the incumbent, CHI & Partners. Now then reached the last round of the pitch for the £85 million five-year campaign to promote smart energy meters in the UK. Again, it fell at the final furlong, missing out to Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

Although the big accounts proved elusive, the agency claims that, despite its relative youth, it turned down nine new-business leads last year – citing cultural differences and creative cul-de-sacs. Laudable stuff, if true.

But one wonders how much of a bearing the surprise departure of Now’s most high-profile founder, Mark Lund, will have on its new-business fortunes in 2015 and beyond. The industry veteran announced in July that he was leaving to be the chief executive of McCann Worldgroup UK.

The agency said it would not replace Lund, instead installing John Townshend as its chairman, leaving the creative reins with Steve Paskin.

Now produced some interesting work in 2014, including a campaign for the salad brand Florette that used Met Office data to coincide the release of ads with good weather, and print activity for Kelly Hoppen that demonstrated the versatility of its vases.

A TV highlight was a spot for Nuffield Health as part of its first brand campaign for 50 years.

Now is chugging away nicely but, to make the transition from steady to spectacular, it needs to convert a big-time new-business opportunity. Whether this will prove more difficult in Lund’s absence remains to be seen.

How the agency scores itself: 7

How the agency rates itself: 2014 was the year we showed adland we’re out to play with the big boys. We were down to two on Argos. Close on smart meters. We didn’t win. But we beat some of the best. Structurally, things changed. We said bye to Mr Lund. John became chairman. Steve Paskin took the creative reins. Kelly Hoppen and Nuffield featured as favourites in Campaign. And we threw a party with Ringan.

Type of agency Creative advertising
Company ownership Independent
Nielsen billings 2014 £16m
Nielsen billings 2013 £16m
Declared income £3.1m
Total accounts at year end 16
Accounts won 11 (biggest: Wyevale)
Accounts lost 1 (Habitat)
Number of staff 38 (+13%)
Key personnel John Townshend chairman and creative partner
Melissa Robertson managing partner
Kate Waters strategy partner
Steve Paskin 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.