School Reports 2016: MediaCom

Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK

The UK's biggest media agency had a good year. The new-business record was strong as MediaCom won 39 accounts, including Tesco's £125 million whopper. Other notable wins included American Airlines and Betfair.

The biggest loss was Iceland, a £20 million business, but MediaCom can afford the hit as it has billings well in excess of £1 billion.

Importantly, the agency went through a seamless leadership transition as Karen Blackett became the chairwoman and Josh Krichefski, one of the smartest brains around, stepped up from chief operating officer to become the chief executive in December.

The WPP shop has cultivated one of the most diverse teams in media. It says Black, Asian and minority-ethnic staff represent 17.4 per cent of its workforce, while the IPA/Campaign diversity research shows that women make up 31 per cent of the top two tiers of management. MediaCom is also investing in the future – it has given full-time jobs to 90 per cent of the young talent who have been on the agency’s apprenticeship scheme.

MediaCom also has a strong sense of commitment and fun. It runs Project Blend to advise employees on their work/life balance, got 65 employees to take part in Centrepoint’s Sleep Out and its 2015 Christmas party for media owners had a Charlie And The Chocolate Factory theme.

Not for nothing does Blackett invoke the rallying cry from the Marvel superhero franchise "Avengers Assemble" to describe the strength in depth at MediaCom.

How the agency rates itself: 8

"In the first full year of our "content and connections" offering, we won more than £250 million of business (including Tesco, which we’d been chasing for 15 years!); won 47 awards (including more at Cannes than any other UK media agency); and took personalised advertising to new heights for Coke, turned shop windows into a medium for Cancer Research UK and turned Waterloo into Jurassic World – all while bringing staff churn to an all-time low."

Type of agency Media
Company ownership WPP
Nielsen billings 2015 £1,143m
Nielsen billings 2014 £1,142m
Declared income n/s*
Total accounts at year end 268
Accounts won 39 (biggest: Tesco)
Accounts lost 4 (biggest: Iceland)
Traditional media 70%
Digital media 30%
Number of staff 1,104 (+3%)
Women in senior management 31%
BAME staff in senior management 4%
Key personnel Karen Blackett, chairwoman
Josh Krichefski, chief executive
Jane Ratcliffe, EMEA vice-president
Sue Unerman, chief strategy officer
Claudine Collins, UK managing director

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.