School Reports 2016: MBA


MBA might have a stuffy reputation but recent tech developments mean that its proposition of sitting at the point digital and data collide led to some interesting work in 2015.

The independent agency brought mountains and beach resorts to potential Neilson holidaymakers through a digital and experiential campaign. In addition to a 360-degree online film, Neilson enabled people to #haveagobeforeyougo (skiing), using an Oculus Rift headset in shopping centres, festivals and trade shows across the country.

When O2 tasked MBA with positioning the brand as a provider of innovative digital and tech, the agency knew a normal DM pack wouldn’t cut it. Instead, it created a holographic advisor, which was sent out to 50 high-value prospects.

Other work included getting people to share their juicing experiences for Sage by Heston Blumenthal and challenging the TV presenter Laura Whitmore to have as much fun as she could in Berlin in 12 hours using Avios points.

The tech theme continued into MBA’s new business. Investec, the asset manager, hired the agency in May to promote its Click & Invest online investment management platform. Then, in September, the telecoms company 4Com appointed MBA to introduce a new brand through a web platform and digital activity.

As well as launching new products for established business, MBA won work from start-ups including the new charity e-commerce site The Good Exchange and the photo and video co-creation app Scripin.

All in all, it was not a bad year for MBA – but not enough to set pulses racing.

How the agency rates itself: 7

"Work highlights included O2’s holographic digital advisor, Oculus Rift-inspired social video for Neilson holidays and Laura Whitmore’s 12-hour challenge social campaign for Avios. Five new clients including Investec’s new mobile investing platform and 4Com’s new phone launch. IPA CPD gold for third year running. Top new talent from R/GA and 15below. Continued government selection to promote UK creative industries overseas. Launched #IPASocialWorks guide."

Type of agency Digital/direct
Company ownership Independent
Nielsen billings 2015 £8m
Nielsen billings 2014 £11m
Declared income £5.5m (estimated)
Total accounts at year end 25
Accounts won 5 (biggest: Investec)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: FairFX)
Number of staff 60 (no change)
Key personnel Stephen Maher, chief executive
Graham Kerr, chairman and executive creative director
James Devon, planning director
James Middlehurst, managing partner
Paul Munce, 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.