School Reports 2016: VCCP


Frustrated with the constraints of public ownership, VCCP's holding company, Chime Communications, sold the agency to Providence Equity and WPP in October 2015.

The £374 million deal was explained as a sports-marketing play, which raised questions about the future of VCCP within the group. So far, these concerns are unfounded and the agency’s management seem thrilled with the speed at which things move without shareholders.

One month after the deal completed, VCCP bought Adconnection, tripling the scale of its media arm and adding offline media planning and buying expertise. The acquisition puts VCCP at the vanguard of agencies experimenting with a return to full service.

Creatively, VCCP had a solid if unspectacular year in 2015. The agency will feel hard done by with the dismal performance of England in the Rugby World Cup, which sucked the wind out of its "make them giants" animation for O2. But the executive creative director, Darren Bailes, again showed his skill on challenger brand accounts with a campaign for First Utility, which mockingly introduced the idea of HD electricity.

But the changes at BetVictor saw the bookmaker call a review in January 2016 just weeks after VCCP’s newest campaign aired.

Small losses aside, VCCP is in decent shape. It’s an exciting time for the agency, which can be expected to make full use of its newfound liquidity to expand into the US soon.

How the agency rates itself: 8

"We created the UK’s most popular, shared and viewed campaign of the year with O2 "make them giants", welcomed 30 new clients and grew our headcount by 15 per cent. We continued to invest in our full-service offering with the acquisition of Adconnection, bringing together market-leading creative, media and data under one roof. Thanks go to our clients and all of those who work at VCCP, to whom we owe the successes of 2015."

Type of agency Full service
Company ownership Providence Equity
Nielsen billings 2015 £226m
Nielsen billings 2014 £224m
Declared income £110m (estimated)
Total accounts at year end 155
Accounts won 30 (biggest: Nationwide)
Accounts lost 21 (biggest: Aunt Bessie’s)
Traditional media 59%
Digital media 41%
Number of staff 815 (+29%)
Women in senior management 40%
BAME staff in senior management n/s
Key personnel Adrian Coleman, group chief executive and founding partner
Charles Vallance, chairman and founding partner
Darren Bailes, executive creative director
Maggie Frost, chief finance officer
Michael Sugden, chief executive

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.