School Reports 2017: J Walter Thompson London

Victim Support/National Centre for Domestic Violence
Victim Support/National Centre for Domestic Violence

Score: 4 
Last year: 7


How the agency rates itself: 7

The J Walter Thompson name was dragged through the mud in 2016 by the Gustavo Martinez scandal. While this played out at a global level, the fortunes of its London office took a turn for the worse.

JWT’s year started with disappointment as the agency was pipped to Morrisons by Publicis London. While the agency brought in 11 clients, it was not a vintage year for new business – its biggest win was the £2m integrated business for Wagamama. Five accounts were also lost or resigned, including Philadelphia’s pan-European brief.

On the work front, in October the agency launched the "Break the routine" campaign for Victim Support and the National Centre for Domestic Violence. The film depicted an abusive relationship through dance.

On the management side, JWT has been in a state of flux. The agency abandoned its triumvirate executive partner structure in November, appointing James Whitehead sole chief executive and shunting Joe Petyan, who had shared the role of senior suit with Whitehead, into a European job.

The industry wondered where this left Russell Ramsey, who reverted back to executive creative director. Then, in early 2017, all became clear as he left to pursue "another creative challenge". Digital executive creative director Lucas Peon, a relative newcomer having only joined in February 2016, was handed Ramsey’s role. Not long after, the agency parted company with veteran art director Dave Dye.

No doubt stung by its public-schoolboy reputation, JWT has taken steps to improve diversity. Its entry-level "blind recruitment" process and stipulation that at least one woman be interviewed for creative and tech positions are laudable initiatives.

After losing out to Saatchi & Saatchi for a global HSBC brand strategy brief this January, JWT will be hoping its fortunes improve this year.


How the agency describes its year in a tweet

Celebrating female achievement, supporting new mums, freeing gang members, saving tigers, winning Christmas and changing the law.

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