School Reports 2017: 18 Feet & Rising

House of Fraser
House of Fraser

Score: 6
Last year: 5


How the agency rates itself: 7

Are ethical behaviour and the pursuit of profit mutually exclusive? 18 Feet & Rising certainly thinks not. Indeed, 2016 saw 18 Feet & Rising become the first ad agency to gain B Corp status, described by the US movement awarding it as the equivalent of "Fairtrade certification to coffee".

So far, so right-on. But 18 Feet & Rising appears to be taking its commitment to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency seriously. It has even amended its articles of association, imposing on its directors a fiduciary duty to create positive impact alongside more traditional obligations. Employees also undertake a week’s voluntary work a year while being paid.

Meanwhile, the agency has been exploring ways to tap into young creative talent, allowing shortlisted candidates to work on a live brief to secure one of three creative placements.

In Anna Carpen’s first full year in total charge of the creative department, output had its ups and downs. The "Looks posh" spot for Nando’s was a July Turkey of the Week – just two months before the fast-food chain called a review of its creative roster. However, there was another fine all-singing, all-dancing Christmas commercial for House of Fraser, even if some found its "Christmas is coming for you" line a tad threatening.

And the year drew to a close in upbeat fashion when dog-welfare charity Dogs Trust trotted into the 18 Feet & Rising kennel, bringing with it a creative account worth a reported £6m.

With the agency’s minority owner Creston now bought by investment company Dbay Advisors, 18 Feet & Rising will no doubt be contemplating its own status as part of the group. Perhaps more importantly, though, will the agency’s beefed-up strategy of doing the right thing lead others to follow?


How the agency describes its performance this year, in 75 words or less

Another important year. Anna Carpen took the creative mantle. Became a B-corporation. Closed out the year with a top 10 nation’s favourite for the National Trust and another big Christmas campaign for House of Fraser.

How the agency describes its year in a tweet

Not afraid to stare at the industry’s shortcomings and try harder.

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