School Reports 2018: Initiative

Type of agency & ownership:  Media planning and buying agency, owned by Interpublic Group
Nielsen billings 2017: £142m (+21%)
Declared income: n/s
Total accounts at year end: 45
Accounts won: 11 (biggest: Lego)
Accounts lost: 0
Number of staff: 90 (+67%)
Key personnel: Richard Morris, UK chief executive and EMEA president; James Shoreland, chief client officer; Jed Hallam, chief strategy officer; James Temperley, head of investment; Lucy Carter, head of people and culture
Star player: n/s

It had been a dismal couple of years since Tesco put the skids under Initiative by withdrawing its £90m UK media business and precipitating huge job losses. However, 2017 suggested the agency had picked itself up, dusted itself off and was ready to start all over again. New business arrived, relationships with clients were enhanced and a couple of pivotal appointments – as well as a shift in positioning as a so-called "branding agency" – bolstered collective feelings of equilibrium being restored.

It certainly augurs well for Richard Morris, lured from Dentsu Aegis Network after 22 years to become Initiative’s UK chief executive, and shoring up a gap left by Sally Weavers, who had quit as managing director to launch her own consultancy.

Morris’ task is to transform Initiative in the UK with a philosophy that seeks to build brands in a culturally relevant way and with a balanced approach that combines short-term success with long-term marketing outcomes. Jed Hallam, recruited from Mindshare at the end of last year as chief strategy officer, joins a leadership team assisting Morris with this.

The omens for success are good. In August, Carlsberg Group named Initiative as OMD’s replacement as its global media agency of record. It also nailed Kindred, the online gambling company that owns Unibet. As the year drew to a close, Initiative won Lego’s global media business and saw off a challenge from Publicis Media to retain Amazon’s global media account.

Initiative is back off the canvas. Now it just has to stay on its feet.




6 3 7

Agency's year in a tweet

We helped our clients’ brands take the Initiative in culture

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


*indicates where agencies claim the corporate governance constraints of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation