Omnicom was still the only advertising holding company last year to rank among the top two for both creative and media in the UK, despite the impact of the pandemic.
Clearly, the US business felt the impact of Covid-19 strongly in the UK, but nevertheless remained the biggest for creative billings (despite being down 22% year on year) and second for media (down 4% year on year).
It is, therefore, not surprising that Omnicom's highest-ranked agencies in this year's School Reports comprise a range of disciplines: creative (Lucky Generals and Adam & Eve/DDB), media (OMD Group and PHD), customer engagement (Rapp) and brand experience (TRO).
These are the Omnicom shops that achieved the highest scores in Campaign’s School Reports.
PHD had a strong year despite the pandemic, coming top of Campaign’s new-business league for 2020, thanks largely to a global Diageo win. Losing Veriça Djurdjevic as chief executive in November was a blow, but it’s a sign of her reputation that Channel 4 has entrusted her to run its commercial operation at a pivotal moment (Essence's Ali Reed will replace Djurdjevic). It was also among the top performers at the Media Week Awards, winning three golds, and was crowned Campaign’s Media Agency of the Year 2020. Plus it managed to drive its gender pay gap down to 4%, from 11% in 2019.
Lucky Generals rose to the Covid challenge by helping its biggest client, the Co-op, respond to the Covid-19 crisis by scrapping its Easter advertising plans, donating £2.5m of airtime to the charity FareShare and raise millions in dontions with the help of campaigning footballer Marcus Rashford. It also shone for Amazon during Christmas with a film about a resilient ballerina and was trusted to make its Super Bowl spot for a third time.
Manning Gottlieb OMD and OMD UK managed to increase billings and help produce standout work in a Covid-hit year. Amid group chief executive Tim Pearson's departure for Sky, it promoted managing directors Natalie Bell and Laura Fenton to agency chief executives. Its government media-buying division, OmniGov, rose to the unique pandemic challenge of handling more than £100m in media spend, including vital public-health campaigns such as “Hands. Face. Space” in September and a newspaper ad blitz in April. OMD UK retained its biggest client McDonald’s and won Lidl’s £60m buying account, while MG OMD successfully repitched for the £25m Estée Lauder account.
While there were no huge accounts wins in 2020 for the usually all-conquering ad agency, Adam & Eve/DDB did bag Quorn, a brand with a big opportunity, thanks to the boom in meat alternatives, as well as Graze, Miller High Life and Huel. Creative output was strong once again, such as its hugely impressive PlayStation work that returned the brand to its former glory. It also somewhat reinvented the John Lewis Christmas campaign with "Give a little love", which was a masterpiece of art design (even if it didn't drive the public conversation in the same way as previous efforts). It also won Channel 4's Diversity in Advertising award for the second time in four years, this time with game publisher EA Sports, and achieved 44% revenue growth for its eight-year-old production unit Cain & Abel.
After gobbling up fellow Omnicom agency Proximity in May, Rapp swelled its headcount by 10% and received clients such as Ikea, Procter & Gamble and Specsavers. The beefed-up agency retained every one of its existing clients, including Virgin Media, PayPal, Ford and Montblanc. Rapp says client satisfaction scores are now higher than ever. It also won work from Volkswagen, BBC Sport, Laithwaite’s, Cartier, Samsung, PokerStars Casino UK and Bacardi, adding £8.4m to its balance sheet. The merged agency’s robust form also stretched to a strong performance in healthcare, where it grew by 300%.
Despite the pandemic, TRO managed to complete the year up on 2019 in terms of accounts and retained business from the BMW UK, Molson Coors UK and Nissan International. There was still notable work to showcase, such as new retail installations for Coors Light, Glenmorangie, and Hennessy XO, TRO also delivered a socially distant live activation for BMW in Formula E – an electric car convoy driving experience – led by influencers from music and gaming. It also created an immersive forest pop-up to promote nicotine pouch brand Nordic Spirit that offered evening dining experiences and film screenings.