School Reports 2017: AKQA

BBC Earth
BBC Earth

Score: 6
Last year: 7

How the agency rates itself: 8

2016 brought bumps in the road for AKQA but the agency tried to set itself up for the future with key creative hires and a digital acquisition.

Momentous changes at Marks & Spencer last year, including a new chief executive, spelled bad news for AKQA, which lost the retailer’s digital account. The business first moved to sister shop Y&R London before accompanying the creative account to Grey London. Travel site, meanwhile, moved its digital business to AnalogFolk.

Nevertheless, AKQA continued to produce strong work throughout the year, which kicked off with Wayne Deakin taking the creative helm as executive creative director in London. A notable example was BBC Earth’s Story of Life app celebrating Sir David Attenborough’s 90th birthday. The app collected his best natural-history broadcasts – including moments from his latest show, Planet Earth II – and allowed users to browse animals by habitat, species and behaviour.

Despite losing Nike Football’s western European business to R/GA London in 2015, AKQA still handles global work for the brand and created content for its new mental training app, Nike Football Pro Genius. Taking inspiration from stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, the app helps users with decision-making, strategy and confidence.

Elsewhere, AKQA developed Jamie Oliver’s voice-activated recipe service for Amazon smart speaker Echo, demonstrating the widening potential for brands in artificial intelligence. The agency also picked up work for Airbnb, including creating an immersive experience in London.

2016 saw AKQA acquire a majority stake in the holding company of Potato, a digital shop that specialises in software engineering. AKQA also invested in talent with the appointment of Suki Rai as creative director, Ant Warne as executive planning director and client partner Naiad Angel.

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

We couldn’t be happier with 2016. It’s been a year of defining work for our clients and the team. Launching "Story of Life" for the BBC, a modular music service with Roli, Jamie Oliver on Amazon Echo, and our Christmas gift, "The snow fox" - helping kids to read through a world first voice animated story.

Our investment in our team and culture has doubled in 2016, paving the way for an incredible 2017.

How the agency describes its year in a tweet

The future belongs to those brave enough to create it.

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