School Reports 2016: Total Media


Total Media is the quiet child at the back of the class who doesn't get noticed much but gets along with its work without too much fuss. Its 76-strong client list includes half-a-dozen museums, plus assorted orchestras, book publishers and trusts, which is testament to the fact that this independently owned agency is hardly the class bully.

Instead, Total has been selling itself as the behavioural planning agency with a "people" ethos.Its thoughtful, strategic approach won 13 new clients in 2015, including Love Home Swap and the British Heart Foundation.

Since it has brain, not brawn, Total has been over-indexing in less fashionable areas of media, including press (25 per cent of spend) and outdoor (14 per cent). But the team, led by its chief executive, Guy Sellers, has been pushing into programmatic for clients such as Fred Olsen and HoMedics, and winning search business from Lenovo and Cambridge Weight Plan.

A smart piece of work for Lenovo involved a partnership with Posterscope and EE to use data. The client’s out-of-home media appeared in tech hotspots, where the target audience was actively searching for products on their mobiles.

However, the agency lost three clients – Visit Orlando (a £1.2 million hit) and SsangYong, and resigned A2 Milk.

Total’s senior leadership spoke at a string of industry events, including Media360, and featured in the Media Week 30th-anniversary issue.

The modest child among the independent media agency pack has something to be proud about.

How the agency rates itself: 6

"A great deal of 2015 was dedicated to developing our new positioning around behavioural planning. This required significant investment in research, technology and training, all of which is focused on helping us lead the way in understanding the behaviour of real people and how to utilise this insight in our media planning. Supported by insights across neuroscience, behavioural psychology and ethnography, we are excited about causing a bit of positive disruption."

Total Media
Type of agency Media planning and buying
Company ownership Independent
Nielsen billings 2015 £26m
Nielsen billings 2014 £30m
Declared income £7.6m
Total accounts at year end 76
Accounts won 13 (biggest: Love Home Swap)
Accounts lost 3 (biggest: Visit Orlando)
Traditional media 63%
Digital media 37%
Number of staff 111 (+11%)
Key personnel Mike Sell, chairman
Guy Sellers, chief executive
Tom Laranjo, managing director
Lucas Brown, chief strategy officer
Celine Saturnino, head of media operations

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.