School Reports 2018: Proximity London

Virgin Holidays
Virgin Holidays
Type of agency & ownership:  Customer engagement agency, owned by Omnicom
Nielsen billings 2017: £18m (-34%)
Declared income: n/s
Total accounts at year end: 25
Accounts won: 3 (biggest: Ikea)
Accounts lost: 13 (biggest: Parcelforce)
Number of staff: 248 (-12%)
Key personnel: Gabrielle Ludzker, chief executive; Joe Braithwaite, managing director; John Treacy, executive creative director; Sarah Blackman, chief innovation officer; Andrew Waddell, chief operating officer
Star player: Zoe Jones, operations director

Right up until its dying stages, 2017 could have gone two ways for Proximity – making it a tense first year for new managing director Joe Braithwaite, who arrived in April from BBDO Singapore.

Having started working with Virgin Holidays the previous year, it added sister brand Virgin Atlantic in May, taking the account from Naked Communications – a turn of events that proved fatal for poor Naked.

But three months earlier, Proximity had lost out on the combined BT and EE account to Wunderman, later named as Campaign’s Customer Engagement Agency of the Year. This meant that by the end of the year, there was a lot riding on two big pitches.

Fortunately for Proximity, both came good. In December it won Ikea, beating seven-year incumbent Lida and defeating Digitas in a head-to-head. The following month, it held on to its biggest account, TV Licensing, once again disappointing Lida. While that decision came in 2018, the review process had been trundling on since the previous May.

Elsewhere, Proximity said cheerio to a significant number of clients; in several cases it chose to stop actively seeking projects, but Parcelforce consolidated its business into Oliver, while Royal Mail, the Post Office and all took their business in-house.

On the other hand, the decision to discard low-priority clients meant the agency grew its business with Volkswagen, Disney and Lloyds. It also turned out effective, creatively strong work for The Economist, RNLI and Guide Dogs, and bagged an impressive 18 DMAs, including seven golds.




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Agency's year in a tweet

We used data better, took 18 DMAs, grabbed headlines, boosted profits, won Virgin & IKEA, wooed Joe Braithwaite and behaved ethically #proud

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