School Reports 2016: Cheil London


As in previous years, Cheil London attempted to expand beyond its core client, Samsung, in 2015. But, just like in previous years, its gains in this area were not enough to shake off the accusation that the shop is little more than the electronic giant’s in-house agency.

The restructuring that began in 2014 continued apace last year and Cheil’s staff numbers declined by 19 per cent. Those who departed included the chief operating officer, Matt Pye.

Cheil’s biggest win was a global retail project for The Absolut Company. The agency also won additional work for Absolut’s parent company, Pernod Ricard, and brought in new clients including the Japanese fashion brand Descente, Crocs and Jaguar Land Rover – all of which were projects. Work highlights included an app to help teenagers learn Shakespeare for Samsung and hackathons for Jaguar Land Rover.

Cat Davis, the chief marketing officer at Grey London, joined Cheil as its chief growth officer for the UK and Europe in May, and all eyes will be on how Cheil performs on the new-business front now that she is properly settled. Cheil also hired Paul Hammersley, the former group chief executive at EDC, in the same role. Having gone without a creative lead for eight months after the departure of Logan Wilmont, Cheil brought in the former Karmarama and Proximity executive creative director Caitlin Ryan in January 2016.

With a new senior team in place, Cheil needs to diversify more convincingly in 2016. After all, there are only so many times an agency can insist it is doing so without showing any concrete results.

How the agency rates itself: 6

"We created inventive, standout work, including bringing Shakespeare to life for Samsung and school kids around the world, making James Corden the face of the GSG smartphone, building a Tweeting kettle for our charity Maytree and creating hackathons for Jaguar Land Rover. We also got a Webby for "just ROO it" for KangaROOS. We won top clients, including Absolut, Descente, Jaguar Land Rover and Crocs, and welcomed new talent. 2016 is already looking rosy."

Cheil London
Type of agency Fully integrated
Company ownership Cheil Worldwide
Nielsen billings 2015 £31m
Nielsen billings 2014 £37m
Declared income £16.8m (2014)
Total accounts at year end 10
Accounts won 5 (biggest: The Absolut Company)
Accounts lost 3 (biggest: American Tourister)
Number of staff 153 (-19%)
Women in senior management 18%
BAME staff in senior management 45%
Key personnel Paul Hammersley, UK group chief executive
Caitlin Ryan, executive creative director
Cat Davis, chief growth officer, UK and Europe
Jason Capra, managing partner

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.