School Reports 2016: Proximity London

The Economist
The Economist

Proximity improved on 2014 to be named Campaign's Customer Engagement Agency of the Year in 2015.

John Treacy, the executive creative director who joined in 2013, has found his rhythm. Under his leadership, the creative department is showing that its mantra of "putting the soul back into our science" is more than just snappy rhetoric by combining data-driven insight and creativity.

The most obvious manifestation of this was the online banner campaign for The Economist, which kicked off in 2014 and continued last year. The push boosted subscriptions, and won a bronze Lion and the Grand Prix at the DMA Awards.

Proximity’s clever thinking was also evidenced in its Hope Lockers for WaterAid, which prompted consumers to donate their locker deposit to the charity. A trial ran at the end of 2015 but whether it will get a full roll-out is still in question, though.

Complementing the creative work was a productive new-business year. Proximity won a meaty brief from Disney, Skoda’s CRM account and Bacardi’s northern European digital business. However, separately, Bacardi then signed a global ad deal with Proximity’s parent, BBDO – overshadowing Proximity’s solo efforts on snaring the business.

There were few losses to spoil Proximity’s mood. Oxfam was the biggest but it was only worth about £200,000. The one loss that Proximity did feel was that of Sharon Whale, the deputy chair, who moved to Oliver in December.

Proximity’s progress since 2012, the year of its restructure, has been steady rather than dramatic. But the shop appears all the more solid for it.

How the agency rates itself: 9

"This was the year we put the soul back into our science. We gave heart and emotion star billing alongside smart data and brought the human touch back to CRM. The new focus on creativity delivered our best year ever with the DMA Grand Prix, a Cannes Lion and coveted Agency of the Year accolade. New business included Disney, Bacardi, Guide Dogs and Skoda. Commercially, creatively, globally – Proximity has never been in a better place."

Proximity London
Type of agency Customer engagement
Company ownership Omnicom
Declared income n/s*
Total accounts at year end 73
Accounts won 7 (biggest: Disney)
Accounts lost 3 (biggest: Oxfam)
Number of staff 295 (+5%)
Key personnel Mike Dodds, chief executive
Lou Barber, chairman
John Treacy, executive creative director
Gabrielle Moss, managing director
Andrew Waddell, head of client services

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.