School Reports 2016: Somethin' Else

Brit Awards
Brit Awards

In view of the fact that Somethin' Else is making its School Reports debut at the ripe old age of 25, a brief recap on the story so far seems in order.

As befits an agency that takes its name from the iconic 1958 jazz album by Cannonball Adderley, Somethin’ Else has its roots in music, promoting live gigs and producing radio.

Fast-forward to the present day and the agency can boast an ever-expanding client roster and with a specialism in content strategy and production that spans video, TV, radio, social media and interactive content. It is the BBC’s biggest multiplatform supplier, including more than 20 weekly radio shows, and it has also produced Sky’s talent show Guitar Star.

But it is the successful way in which Somethin’ Else has been riding the tide of content marketing that makes it a late developer worthy of scrutiny in the Campaign School Reports. "We are different to traditional ad agencies and production companies," Steve Ackerman, its managing director, said last year. "We are somewhere in the middle."

Significantly, though, Somethin’ Else began to evolve the professionalism of its offering in line with the growing realisation by clients that content can no longer be regarded as a short-term tactic.

Indeed, the agency made a clear statement of intent with the appointment of Hannah Lury, the ZenithOptimedia client partner, to the new role of client services director with a brief to maintain the agency’s relationships with its clients, including Penguin Random House, Red Bull, the British Fashion Council and The Economist.

Meanwhile, a new assignment last year from the football club Inter Milan, plus the Brit Awards digital brief, provide interesting extensions to its core BBC activity.

How the agency rates itself: 7

"We started on pirate radio in 1991 and transferred our "pirate mentality" to winning broadcast work. Since then, we’ve become the BBC’s biggest multiplatform supplier. In 2015, the broadcasting and advertising worlds are looking for similar ideas. So it’s been time to be pirates again! We’ve hired creative, account and media planners to work with our production teams and offer an end-to-end content service. New clients and three Baftas in 2015 show promise in the strategy."

Somethin' Else
Type of agency Full-service content
Company ownership Independent
Declared income £4m
Total accounts at year end 19
Accounts won 7 (biggest: Topman)
Accounts lost 1 (
Number of staff 81 (+13%)
Key personnel Jez Nelson, chief executive
Steve Ackerman, managing director
Ben Kerr, chief strategy officer
Paul Bennun, chief creative officer
Jon Wilkins, non-executive 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.