School Reports 2016: Razorfish


It can be an ominous start to the year, losing a long-standing chief executive. In the case of Razorfish, it was Chris Mellish, who had been at the shop for almost 15 years.

Luckily for the Publicis Groupe agency, Mellish’s departure did not result in a mass exodus, as was the case for another digital agency in 2015.

David Parry, Razorfish’s managing director, took over the running of the shop and did well to bring in Nick Turner from AKQA as the international executive creative director.

Razorfish says it focused on its growth strategy around digital transformation in 2015; the results of which remain to be seen. Perhaps Turner will help the agency get the briefs it’s pining for.

That’s not to say Razorfish produced nothing of consequence. Its most notable work was for Lifecake, the photo-sharing app owned by Canon, which targeted the parents of young children and encouraged them to share key moments of their kids growing up with other family members through the app.

On new business, Razorfish was named Aviva’s global digital agency. It also welcomed clients including Asics, Citibank, HBO Europe, Mondelez International, Prudential, Samsung and UBS.

However, none of this was enough to stop Publicis Groupe from holding the agency partially responsible for its 4.4 per cent revenue decline in the UK in 2015.

Going into 2016, Razorfish managed to keep hold of the Unilever All Things Hair account – the agency created the platform in 2014. This new-business momentum is one that needs to keep up. There were 13 projects that came to an end, while BlackBerry ceased consumer marketing in 2014.

Razorfish needs to push harder in picking up big clients and creating a broader range of innovative work.

How the agency rates itself: 7

"Razorfish focused its growth strategy around digital transformation through customer obsession. There are four pillars: experience innovation, ubiquitous commerce, participation marketing and intelligent platforms. These reflect the fastest-growing areas across Razorfish. We have been ranked by Gartner as number one for our "ability to execute" and recognised for excellence in digital business transformation, programme management and creativity."

Type of agency Digital business transformation
Company ownership Publicis Groupe
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 31
Accounts won 13 (biggest: Aviva)
Accounts lost 15 (biggest: Mondelez International)
Number of staff 200 (no change)
Key personnel Tom Krailing, finance director
Jim Mason, executive director, strategy and insight
David Parry, managing director
Nick Turner, executive creative director, international
Stuart Walker, chief operations officer

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.


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