School Reports 2018
[Extended edition]


Type of agency & ownership:  Independent digital/direct agency
Nielsen billings 2017: £13m (+66%)
Declared income: £4.5m
Total accounts at year end: 26
Accounts won: 5 (biggest: Lifestyle Homes)
Accounts lost: 4 (biggest: Caravan Club)
Number of staff: 40 (-20%)
Key personnel: Stephen Maher, chief executive; Graham Kerr, chairman and executive creative director; James Devon, planning director; James Middlehurst, managing partner; Paul Munce, managing partner
Star player: Caitlin Evans, senior planner

Year in review

Stephen Maher has long been a man on a mission. He wants to see tech and data moving ever closer to what he insists is their rightful place at the centre of marketing and creative agendas.

In its self-effacing fashion, MBA has devoted itself to delivering this kind of joined-up offering for its clients, and its eclectic 2017 portfolio showed there are clients who will buy what the agency is selling. They include Investec, for which MBA launched Click & Invest, a new online investment platform, during the year.

Nevertheless, a drop of more than £1m in declared income on the previous year shows how tough the climate is for independents attempting to punch above their weight. A two-year relationship with the Caravan Club, Europe’s biggest touring organisation, for which MBA had been handling digital marketing, came to an end.

That said, some decent names arrived. In July, MBA won a place on the NSPCC’s digital roster. It also pitched successfully for an assignment by US personal care giant Church & Dwight to promote its hair-growth-supplement brand Viviscal direct to customers in Britain and Europe.

Others coming in included Lifestyle Homes, a developer of upmarket properties in Spain, and window-blinds and shutters manufacturer Thomas Sanderson, for which the agency will develop web activity.

The agency is now ensconced in new offices in London’s "tech city" at Kings Cross. Might they inspire the agency to attract more of the clients who will really get it noticed?

Agency's Year In A Tweet

"New NSPCC, Church&Dwight clients; O2 Holographic Dave returns; Platinum IPA CPD ; new KX offices; MBA: Where Digital and Direct Interconnect"


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

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 4com

Air Partner

Accor Hotels

Cambridge International Examinations

Caravan Club









Investec Bank

Marketing Society


Neilson Active Holidays


Odeon Cinemas

Riviera Travel



Sage by Heston Blumenthal


The Good Exchange

Top three spending accounts:

Everest (n/s)

Investec Bank (n/s)

O2 (n/s)

Number of retained accounts: 10
Number of accounts that are projects: 16
Biggest win: Lifestyle Homes (n/s)
Biggest loss: Caravan Club (n/s)



Haymarket award wins