School Reports 2018: J Walter Thompson London

UN Women
UN Women
Type of agency & ownership:  Integrated creative agency, owned by WPP
Nielsen billings 2017: £94m (-27%)
Declared income: £51.5m
Total accounts at year end: 63
Accounts won: 19 (biggest: Bayer corporate)
Accounts lost: 1 (Debenhams)
Number of staff: 381 (-6%)
Key personnel: James Whitehead, chief executive; Lucas Peon, executive creative director; Emma Hoyle, director of talent; Simone Forster, managing partner/head of client services; Neil Godber, head of planning
Star player: Rachel Pashley, head of Female Tribes Consulting

Was 2018 the year that J Walter Thompson finally shook off the shackles of its legacy? Well, its management would certainly like you to think so. And, in fairness, a certain amount of progress was made.

JWT formed a partnership with Blueberrywave that gave it access to more data; it also formalised its work on gender equality with the launch of Female Tribes Consulting (although the irony was not lost when in 2018 the agency was revealed to have the biggest gender pay gap within WPP). And, most importantly, its creative output improved immeasurably. While the UK’s performance at Cannes was in no way vintage, JWT was the third most-awarded London agency at the festival.

It also picked up a Best of the Best at the Campaign Big Awards for its brilliant "Ashes to art" project for the Glasgow School of Art. And there were some notable campaigns for HSBC, Kenco, UN Women and Shell that particularly stood out.

Yet the perennial thorn in JWT’s side – new business – remained a source of pain. While it claimed 19 wins (11 of which it says are confidential), the clients tend to be on the diminutive size. Picking up a smattering of smallish accounts such as Aspall and Avon UK might pay the bills but they aren’t ones to set the heart aflutter.

With JWT facing a battle to keep hold of its global Shell business, which is run out of London and is one of its biggest accounts, minds might inevitably be focused elsewhere. Retaining this, while also growing the business with other big, heavily contested wins, will show that JWT really has turned a corner.




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Agency's year in a tweet

Top 3 most awarded UK creative agency @Cannes; 4th in Gunn report UK; 3rd in AAR new biz league; moved into consultancy & data; #endoflegacy

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