School Reports 2016: Mcgarrybowen


In Mcgarrybowen's 2015 school report, we said it had finally built a strong foundation from which to grow and hoped it didn't let the opportunity slip. We’re pleased to say the shop rose to the occasion.

Mcgarrybowen gave a strong performance in new business. It spent the first few weeks of the year bedding in the global Western Union account, which is led by the London office. The agency beat DDB New York, CHI & Partners and FCB Inferno to the business at the end of 2014, proving it can compete with the big boys.

The agency also picked up the BBC Radio 1Xtra activity, as well as briefs for Adidas and Intel.

But there were losses too: Omega, which went in-house, and HouseTrip.

Mcgarrybowen’s most profitable relationship, from a kudos point of view, was with Honda, producing two pieces of lauded work. "The endless road" used the Droste effect to create a dizzying never-ending loop, while "stepping" borrowed from the Japanese discipline of precision-walking. The creativity paid off – in December, Honda appointed Mcgarrybowen to handle the global launch campaign for its NSX supercar.

There was good work for other clients, too, including an amusing TV spot for Weedol Pathclear weedkiller.

People-wise, Mcgarrybowen hired Nicole Reid as its business development director and poached creatives from WCRS and Karmarama. But, at the start of 2016, it was announced that its executive planning director, Kevin Chesters, was leaving.

Mcgarrybowen says it is "directionally correct". We agree. Let’s hope Chesters’ departure doesn’t throw the agency off course. 

How the agency rates itself: 7

"2015 was full on. But… you know… good. New work for clients, including Honda, Adidas, BBC 1Xtra and Western Union, kept us busy. And, creatively, our Weedol film was nice. So was Cannes Lionesses. We’ve also improved work for Sky Bet. We’ve won a lot more pitches than we’ve lost, but always wish we’d won more. Overall, we’ve done some work that surprised others and won some pitches that surprised us."

Type of agency Creative communications
Company ownership Dentsu Aegis Network
Nielsen billings 2015 £18m
Nielsen billings 2014 £20m
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 23
Accounts won 6 (biggest: Honda)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: Omega)
Number of staff 62 (+3%)
Key personnel Rick Hirst, chief executive
Paul Jordan, executive creative director
Angus Macadam, executive creative director
Jim Bletsas, head of design

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.