School Reports 2017: BETC London

Cow & Gate
Cow & Gate

Score: 3
Last year: 2

How the agency rates itself: 5

As one of a trio of agencies with the dubious distinction of being awarded Campaign’s equivalent of the wooden spoon – a score of 2 in last year’s School Reports – BETC London’s 2016 fortunes had no place to go but up.

"Nothing to lose, everything to gain" is the agency’s candid self-assessment of its performance last year.

And it’s true that with a rejigged frontline management and a welcome morale-booster from Coty, which appointed BETC to handle its global account for Rimmel, the agency is swapping some pain for some gain.

BETC has struggled to find stability ever since a tumultuous 2015, when Bacardi, its biggest client, and Diet Coke pulled out their creative accounts.

2016 also kicked off with a departure: Andrew Stirk, the chief executive, upped sticks for the US to join Facebook as the media giant’s head of planning.

The upshot is that the agency has opted for a more collegiate style of management with a new senior team of highly experienced operators working as equal partners.

The first to arrive to help steady the ship alongside creative chief Rosie Bardales was industry veteran Russell Davies, whose agency career spans 25 years and who took over as chief strategy officer.

The trio was completed with the November hiring of Andrew Kay as managing director. With more than 16 years’ agency experience, the most recent at Wieden & Kennedy, he renews his previous working relationship with Bardales.

Meanwhile, some interesting creative work emerged, including a two-and-a-half-minute jingle for Cow & Gate’s Baby Club, claimed to be the first composition scientifically tested to make babies happy. Can the freshly installed managerial grown-ups also put a smile on the faces of their Paris-based parents? Maybe 2017 will provide the answer.

How the agency describes its year in a tweet

Nothing to lose. Everything to gain.

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