School Reports 2016: PHD


What a year it has been for PHD. The agency produced one of 2015’s most acclaimed campaigns, for Mondelez International’s Oreo, before losing that top-three-spending client in a global consolidation. It then worked like mad to land 16 accounts worth £68 million in new billings, including Twitter and Virgin Atlantic, to make up the £38.6 million shortfall. There was also the small matter of retaining PHD’s biggest client, Sainsbury’s, estimated to be worth £65 million.

"The Oreo eclipse", which involved coverwrapping The Sun and using out-of-home on the day of the solar eclipse, may not have quite matched PHD’s stunning "Lego Movie ad break" for Warner Bros in 2014, but it was another confident move that The Gunn Report for Media named as one of the most-awarded global campaigns of 2015.

The agency’s success played a big part in PHD being named Campaign’s Media Network of the Year. And network politics helped Virgin Atlantic land in PHD’s lap after client conflict forced Havas Media Group’s Arena Media to drop the business.

But networks can also bring complications. When Omnicom fell out with Channel 5 over TV trading, the broadcaster’s owner, Viacom, dumped PHD as MTV’s UK media agency at the start of 2015. So Daren Rubins’ team had particular reason to savour a sweet victory in February this year when it won back MTV by picking up Viacom’s consolidated UK media account – proof that PHD doesn’t just have a reputation for smart planning but client relations skills too.

How the agency rates itself: 8

"In our 25th birthday year, rather than dwell on past successes we created new benchmarks of quality for the agency. We retained our biggest client, won £68 million of new billings, were named the 16th-best company to work for in the UK and had the most successful awards year in PHD’s history. A year that we can be truly proud of."

Type of agency Media
Company ownership Omnicom
Nielsen billings 2015 £301m
Nielsen billings 2014 £282m
Declared income £37.2m (2014)
Total accounts at year end 102
Accounts won 16 (biggest: Virgin Atlantic)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: Mondelez International)
Traditional media 64%
Digital media 36%
Number of staff 275 (+4%)
Women in senior management 33%
BAME staff in senior management 6%
Key personnel Daren Rubins, chief executive
Verica Djurdjevic, managing director
Frances Ralston-Good, chief strategy and innovation officer
Hugh Cameron, chief brand development officer
Michael Florence, head of planning

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.