School Reports 2018
Nielsen billings 2017: £268m (+19%)
Declared income: n/s
Total accounts at year end: 53
Accounts won: 10 (biggest: Trainline)
Accounts lost: 5 (biggest: Ladbrokes)
Number of staff: 228 (+5%)
Key personnel: Simon Davis, chief executive; Lindsay Turner, managing director, Blue Luxe; Malcolm Boxall, chief investment officer; Mohamed Elfarra, head of data and analytics; Charlotte Jackson, managing partner
Star player: Felicity Bowen, group digital strategy director
Year in review
Blue 449 had another good year under the leadership of Simon Davis, its heavyweight chief executive, who wrote candidly for Campaign about the challenges facing media agencies and was happy to get in the boxing ring at the charity Media Fight Night.
There was no big win after Asda in 2016 – but the agency delivered for existing clients and billings were up strongly. Importantly, Asda turned around its business in the UK as sales grew, while KFC invested in its brand with its bold "The whole chicken" campaign (and amused everyone with "FCK" after its chicken shortage at the start of 2018).
Notable wins included Trainline (£8m) but the loss of Ladbrokes (£16m), which moved to the7stars as part of a consolidation with Coral, was a blow.
Blue 449 has an independent ethos because its old owner, M&C Saatchi, retains a minority stake, and it has made efforts on the diversity front. Two of the top five in the management team are women, compared with a year ago when we noted none was female. The agency is also tackling "economic diversity" by offering a subsidised canteen and paid-for social events to help apprentices and graduates.
The glaring downside of 2017 was the lack of an international win – a stated ambition after Publicis Groupe dropped its Optimedia brand in favour of Blue 449 globally in December 2016. The agency was in the running on several international pitches last year. So the challenge for Davis and his chairman, Phil Georgiadis, is to get one in the bank in 2018.
Agency's Year In A Tweet
"28% billings growth in a tough market is a strong performance for a top 10 media agency. More to come next year!"
Business performance and accounts
List of total accountsASDA
Arthritis Research UK
Back Me Up
British Eye Foundation
Concha y Toro UK
East Midlands Trains
Fortnum & Mason
It's A Monthly Thing
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group xx Micheldever Tyres
Rail Delivery Group
School of Economic Science
Yum (Taco Bell)
Dixons Carphone (n/s)