School Reports 2016: MullenLowe London

Post Office
Post Office

New year, new name (and logo), new leader, new offices: it's all change at DLKW Lowe, which became MullenLowe London in January 2016.

The transformation began with Mullen’s merger with Lowe and Partners last year, which saw DLKW Lowe’s co-founder and chief executive, Richard Warren, promoted to UK chief executive of the group.

Warren’s replacement was announced in July as the understated former managing director Jamie Elliott. One of Elliott’s first tasks was to lead more than 200 staff from South Kensington to the new Shoreditch offices.

MullenLowe London parted ways with E.ON, Trainline and Burger King in 2015. But, arguably, the biggest change came in October, when the agency declined to repitch in Morrisons’ ad review (although MullenLowe worked with the supermarket until February this year). Insiders were quick to point out the relationship had become strained – an Easter campaign went all the way to production but never aired – and a key 2016 priority will be to fill this gap in billings.

MullenLowe did well in government pitches and also picked up work for Unilever’s Flora brand, but it lost out on Aviva and Transport for London.

Otherwise, the agency fared solidly without being spectacular. It picked up a bronze Lion at Cannes for The Winston Fletcher Fiction Prize. The most notable work was the powerful British Heart Foundation spots ("classroom" in particular) and some fun ads for the Post Office and Lenovo.

Not a vintage year, but transition years rarely are. In 2016, we should see whether MullenLowe’s new offer as a boutique shop within a "hyperbundled" network really appeals to clients.

How the agency rates itself: 7

"Bloody good year. All about momentum. Famous work for our new clients – Post Office, Lenovo and the British Heart Foundation. IPA president Tom Knox leading the industry. New fantastic global network partner with Mullen. New injection of energy with Jamie, Charlie and Dave. Growing and integrating our business into Lowe Profero and Lowe Open across clients such as Post Office, Unilever and Lenovo. New East London digs ’cos where you are really matters."

MullenLowe London
Type of agency Creative
Company ownership Interpublic
Nielsen billings 2015 £146m
Nielsen billings 2014 £163m
Declared income £29.8m (2014)
Total accounts at year end 49
Accounts won 12 (biggest: UK Financial Investments)
Accounts lost 3 (biggest: Trainline – resigned)
Number of staff 249 (+5%)
Women in senior management 30%
BAME staff in senior management 5%
Key personnel Jamie Elliott, chief executive
Charlie Snow, chief strategy officer
Dave Henderson, chief creative officer
Tom Knox, chairman
Charlie Hurrell, 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.