School Reports 2016: Isobar


Isobar's 2015 new year's resolution appeared to be to move into e-commerce and improve its creative output. The acquisition of eCommera in June, which the Dentsu Aegis Network UK boss, Tracy De Groose, said would help the agency strengthen its brand commerce offering, cemented Isobar’s commitment to the discipline.

The creative push came towards the end of the year when the agency set up a global creative excellence council led by Nick Bailey, who became Isobar’s chief creative officer for EMEA in November 2015.

This council differs to those of its competitors, Isobar claims, by helping to "recognise where [staff] ambitions lie, finding star players, work and ideas that wouldn’t get found otherwise".

In new business, Isobar added Burger King, Bayer, Chambord, and Nestlé Purina to its books. It lost AB InBev, Dr Oetker and Scottish Power, which took production in-house, but managed to retain Huawei. A project for Honor, which it picked up as part of its Huawei relationship, also came to an end.

In terms of creative in 2015, Isobar produced outdoor executions for’s campaign resurrecting Gio Compario, the divisive opera-singing mascot. Work for Pringles included playing a prank on revellers in Ibiza who thought they were in a karaoke booth, only to realise they were being watched by 500 people.

While Isobar is no doubt continuing with its resolution, how much the eCommera acquisition and its creative council have helped business remains to be seen, especially with the lack of any outstanding creative work in 2015. Perhaps that will be one for 2016.

How the agency rates itself: 7

This year has been about delivering on our strategy of moving into the brand commerce space. Key actions included the acquisition of the e-commerce specialist eCommera, establishing London as one of seven global growth hubs for Isobar, contributing to an organic worldwide revenue growth of 23 per cent, a strengthened UK executive team to drive integration of new capabilities, and a focus on new business with six new clients joining our roster. 

Type of agency Global digital creative
Company ownership Dentsu Aegis Network
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 27
Accounts won 6 (biggest: Nestlé Purina)
Accounts lost 4 (biggest: Scottish Power)
Number of staff 203 (+53%)
Key personnel Steven Moy, chief executive
Nick Bailey, chief creative officer EMEA
Patricia McDonald, chief strategy officer
Emmanuel Davis, head of technology
Blake Cuthbert, client 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.