School Reports 2017: MullenLowe London


Score: 4 
Last year: 6

How the agency rates itself: 5

MullenLowe Group is now a full-service offering, bringing together what used to be called DLKW Lowe, Profero and Lowe Open into a single "octopus" (hence the logo) that does all that plus media.

Profero boss Dale Gall was chosen to succeed group chief executive Richard Warren, who quit in May, setting off a domino effect of management departures: chief executive Jamie Elliott, chief creative officer Dave Henderson and managing director Charlie Hurrell all called it a day. They were followed in early 2017 by group chief strategy officer (and DLKW stalwart) Charlie Snow and media chief Jonathan Fowles.

Moreover, billings were disappointing – they fell 35% last year according to Nielsen, though it should be noted that the figure refers only to the ad agency.

Tom Knox and executive creative director Richard Denney remain. How they adapt in the new order will be one to watch, as will Gall’s choice of creative chief.

All that disruption came in a year of some OK creative output, with Persil’s "Free the kids" the highlight, earning a silver at Cannes and the Campaign Big Awards. The inaugural UK Effie Awards chose MullenLowe as its Agency Network of the Year, although this seemed more of a valedictory nod to DLKW Lowe, given its praise for work created in 2015.

Following the Western Union and Sloggi wins, MullenLowe now has two multi-market accounts that will be case studies for how its nascent full-service offering can deliver for brands. That will provide some comfort for being beaten in the Sainsbury’s pitch, having begun the year losing the agency-defining Morrisons account.

Perhaps all the management changes will result in a rejuvenated agency. But MullenLowe needs to move quickly this year to prove that point.

How the agency describes its year in a tweet

We did not settle for good and are doing what it takes to be great so that we create an unfair share of attention for our clients.

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