School Reports 2017: PHD


Score: 9 
Last year: 8

How the agency rates itself: 9

PHD landed one of the biggest wins of the year by helping the worldwide network snatch Volkswagen Group’s estimated £2bn global account and maintained its reputation for high-quality planning by producing more award-winning work for Sainsbury’s.

The UK team could claim some of the credit for landing the German car group because they already looked after Seat, Porsche and Bentley. Winning sister brands Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (from MediaCom) brought in the best part of £60m in extra billings. VW galvanised the London agency, prompting a hiring spree and a strengthening of the senior management team as Hugh Cameron and Mike Florence were promoted.

There were other new accounts, including Carnival and Viacom. The only notable blip for PHD’s UK operation, which includes PHD Manchester and Rocket in London, was the loss of Game Group for £5m.

PHD capped the year by winning Agency of the Year at the Media Week Awards and the Grand Prix for Sainsbury’s "Sharing the Gift of Reading at Christmas". Refurbishing its Bloomsbury offices, rather than moving to Omnicom’s Bankside HQ, was a vote of confidence in PHD UK’s culture.

An excellent year ended with a "closed" review by Sainsbury’s, which decided to consolidate its business with Argos, less than two years after PHD had retained the account. The news early in 2017 that PHD had lost the supermarket after 22 years, just as VW Group officially began, felt like one chapter was closing and another was about to start. That sense was reinforced by the news that chief executive Daren Rubins was leaving to join The Lighthouse Company. Campaign watches with interest to see how the London agency changes and fights back locally in 2017.

How the agency describes its year in a tweet

Biggest new business year ever. Biggest pitch win ever. More award wins than ever. Happiest clients ever. Most uses of the word ever, ever.

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