School Reports 2017: Mcgarrybowen


Score: 5 
Last year: 7

How the agency rates itself: 6

There was a time in 2016 when senior managers seemed to be arriving and departing Mcgarrybowen as often as the trains at Goodge Street Underground station, just a stone’s throw from the agency’s London office.

The situation was precipitated by two key departures. The year had barely begun when Kevin Chesters, the agency’s executive planning director since 2013, opted to return to Ogilvy & Mather. An even bigger surprise occurred three months later with the announcement that chief executive Rick Hirst was moving to sister media shop Carat.

Moreover, Jim Bletsas opted to end his three-year stint as head of design to join Lucky Generals.

The managerial guard-changing would certainly have provided a ready excuse for Mcgarrybowen taking its eye off the ball.

It’s true that the year’s new-business performance was hardly starry, the highlight being the European account for online recruitment network Monster.

However, Mcgarrybowen did not allow the upheaval to send it into total free fall. The upside has been the arrival of a new leadership team with the potential to revive the shop. The key hire was Jason Gonsalves, previously Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s chief strategy officer, as Hirst’s replacement. Gonsalves’ appointment was complemented at the year’s end by the recruitment of Charlie Hurrell from MullenLowe London to fill the new role of managing director.

Meanwhile, the gap left by Chesters has been filled by Rory Gallery and Chris McKibbin, from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and Adjust Your Set respectively.

And with its involvement in the Cannes Lionesses project and its online film for Nabs highlighting the challenges faced by working parents, it’s clear that Mcgarrybowen will want to continue shaping the big issues. But in 2017 the agency needs to really prove it has a niche to fill in the crowded agency marketplace.

How the agency describes its year in a tweet

New leadership team. New clients. New work. New ambitions. New ideas. New ways of working. New opportunities. New problems.

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