School Reports 2018
[Extended edition]


Type of agency & ownership:  Integrated creative agency, owned by Cello
Nielsen billings 2017: £13m (-12%)
Declared income: £5.2m
Total accounts at year end: 75
Accounts won: 13 (biggest: Business Gateway)
Accounts lost: 8 (biggest: Dobbies)
Number of staff: 165 (-13%)
Key personnel: Richard Marsham, group managing partner; Ed Brooke, head of Leith; Juliet Simpson, chairwoman, Stripe; John Rowley, chief executive, Signal
Star player: Brian Tonner, Robb McAulay, creative team

Year in review

Leith’s end-of-year declaration that it was undergoing a restructure to make itself "fit for purpose" in 2018 served to underline the harshness of the Scottish climate for agencies. As the year drew to a close, the agency confirmed that it had cut one job and was in discussion with a further eight staff about their futures.

The drive towards greater efficiency comes in the wake of a slight decline in what was a record trading year for the group in 2016. However, the agency decided to act in the face of a slowdown in client spending and a growing trend to take more work in-house. As a result, it said it was looking to change a structure in which too many people were in the wrong roles at wrong levels and to hire six people to fill roles where there was bigger potential for growth.

Significantly, the changes coincide with the agency’s move into new open-plan offices, a former bonded warehouse at Edinburgh’s Commercial Quay, to be closer to its sister agencies, making collaboration with them easier.

Against this potentially disruptive backdrop, the agency kept its creative focus. The bamboozling "It makes no sense" campaign for soft drink Irn-Bru, Leith’s signature client, was shortlisted for the Campaign Big Awards, while its work for The Famous Grouse whisky remained funny. It even had the Royal Bank of Scotland breaking with tradition by featuring a same-sex couple in a TV commercial’s lead role.

As the UK ad industry’s champion north of the border, everybody will be hoping Leith comes through 2018 in good shape and fighting fit.

Agency's Year In A Tweet

"Making bold work and grand plans. 2018 we’re coming for you."


Score this year: 5
Score last year: 7
How the agency scores itself: 7
Management strength: 7
Creativity: 7
Innovation: 6
New business: 4
Diversity: 7

Business performance and accounts

Gross income

Latest: n/s
Previous: n/s
Change: n/s

Operating profit

Latest: n/s
Previous: n/s
Change: n/s

List of total accounts Retained:

Barr Soft Drinks - IRN-BRU,IRN-BRU Sugar Free, IRN-BRU Xtra


EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations)

Famous Grouse Global (Edrington)

Business Gateway


Royal Bank of Scotland

Scottish Power

Scottish Government

John Lewis

Merlin Entertainment

Baillie Gifford

Bank of Ireland


Sainsbury's Finance

Scottish Friendly


Brugal (Edrington)

Macallan (Edrington)

Burness Paull

Cutty Sark (Edrington)

Drumond Park

Historic Environment Scotland

Ian Macleod Distillers


Network Rail

North Ayrshire Council

Police Scotland

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

S1 Jobs


Scotland's International Image


Scottish National Heritage

Street Soccer

The Sick Kids Friends Foundation

Turcan Connell


Visit Aberdeenshire

CR Smith

First Mortgage

Food Doctor

Top three spending accounts:

RBS (n/s)

AG Barr (n/s)

Scottish Government (n/s)

Number of retained accounts: 16
Number of accounts that are projects: 59
Biggest win: Business Gateway (n/s)
Biggest loss: Dobbies (£200,000)



Haymarket award wins