School Reports 2016: Carat


Carat was always going to struggle to beat its 2014 performance, when it topped Campaign's new-business league after scooping the government's media account from WPP, but last year saw another good performance.

Dentsu Aegis Network’s flagship London agency finished a strong third in the new-business league and picked up eight clients, among them Mondelez International, Halfords and Eurostar. Notable retentions and additional business from existing clients included the Scottish government, Santander and British Gas.

However, two clients departed: Victoria Plumb, which was a significant loss for Carat Manchester, and Go Outdoors.

Carat uses a wheel to portray itself to clients: the agency sits in the centre, with more than a dozen spokes that represent its group services, such as the content division John Brown. It’s all part of Dentsu Aegis’ "single P&L" approach, which claims to offer the best specialist capabilities to clients.

The Mondelez win, which was part of a global realignment by the client, was a fillip and it immediately became a top-three UK client by billings alongside General Motors (which owns Vauxhall) and Asda.

Carat has muscle thanks to Amplifi, the trading arm of its parent, but the agency found itself under scrutiny from ITV at the start of 2016 as the broadcaster questioned whether Dentsu Aegis has been meeting the terms of its share deal.

Overall, Carat is in good shape and living up to its "redefining media" slogan with a broad range of services beyond planning and buying.

How the agency rates itself: 8

"Carat followed a great 2014 with an even better 2015. We excelled in new business, organic growth, awards and culture. We bedded in the £140 million government win while winning another £87 million in billings. At the same time, we transformed into a new structure evolved for a digital economy – more global, more connected. It’s all built on incredible talent. We were delighted to promote 28 per cent of our people. By every measure, a quality year."

Type of agency Media
Company ownership Dentsu
Nielsen billings 2015 £872m
Nielsen billings 2014 £801m
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 203
Accounts won 8 (biggest: Mondelez International)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: Victoria Plumb)
Traditional media 68%
Digital media 32%
Number of staff 597 (+1%)
Key personnel Matthew Hook, managing director
Rachel McDonald, managing director, Manchester
Dan Hagen, chief strategic officer
Stuart Newman, chief marketing officer
Matt Landeman, chief client officer

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.