The School Reports should be a source of pride
A view from Gideon Spanier

The School Reports should be a source of pride

They are a benchmark of success before the current crisis.

The School Reports are one of the highlights of Campaign’s year and, at this extraordinarily difficult time, a welcome dose of normality.

These reports about the performance of 102 UK agencies during 2019 already belong to a different era – before the coronavirus struck with devastating consequences.

Campaign’s team of journalists take the task of judging deeply seriously. We care because we witness first-hand how it takes passion, imagination, graft and entrepreneurial spirit to build and run an agency.

These reports should be a source of special pride this year as they are a benchmark of success before the current crisis. The UK agency landscape could look very different in 12 months’ time.

We debated whether to withhold scores but decided to publish them because the School Reports are an important record.

Violent change can be destructive but it can drive progress and clear space for new entrants. Before coronavirus struck, I wondered how many of these agencies would still be around in five years’ time, as the demand from clients for faster change has become more pressing.

Even the labels that we use – creative agency, media agency, brand experience agency, performance marketing agency – can lead to siloed thinking. 

"Probably the worst thing that we’ve done in our industry over time is that we have separated media and creative," Stephan Pretorius, chief technology officer of WPP, said in a striking comment at an investor day in January.

Rapid change might improve diversity. We found 44.1% of senior agency management is female, up from 43.5% a year earlier, but senior BAME representation fell back marginally to 10.9%. Only one agency had more than 40% BAME staff – in line with London’s population.

With reluctance, we decided not to print this issue, because so many of our readers will not be in their offices, but we hope you enjoy the PDF edition. Special thanks to Campaign’s superb team, who worked at home to produce the School Reports under demanding conditions.

We won’t be beaten by coronavirus.

Gideon Spanier is UK editor-in-chief at Campaign