1. Wieden & Kennedy
In top place, for a second year running, is the happy home of adland, Wieden & Kennedy. Located near Brick Lane, staff not only have a great client list to work with, they can also grab a curry if the urge takes them. Treating staff with respect and offering a nice pension scheme is all well and good, but knitting and language lessons is what we really want in our working day. It's like being back at school but with "Thirsty Thursdays" instead of PE on a wet afternoon.
Up one place from last year is MediaCom. Chanting the mantra "People first. Better results" over and over again has consistently served them well, it would seem, with great working conditions often cited as a benefit of life at the agency. With life coaches on tap, and "freshness training" offering the chance to do any course you desire, wouldn't you be smiling as well?
3. Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy
There's not much backstabbing or politics at Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy, just lots of initiatives to get the agency's creative juices flowing. Everyone has a membership to the Tate and there's a "Creative Energy Fund" to pay for exhibitions or plays. Add an annual £200 "Curiosity Fund" (to learn or experience something new) and the "Danny Brooke-Taylor Creative Challenge" (five-star weekend trips away for staff who have made an outstanding creative contribution) and you get the picture.
Still up there, Fallon's creative allure pulls in eager jobseekers from far and wide for the chance to work on some of the UK's best ad campaigns. But - and it's a small but - creative firepower comes at a price. It's tough at the top and Fallon doesn't take any prisoners. It's like Marmite; you'll either love it or hate it.
5. Work Club
When Work Club opened its doors, just over a year ago, it said it wanted to change working practices to reflect the aspirations of people today, not 30 years ago. In reality, this includes pro-rata hours for working parents (10am-3.30pm with ten weeks holiday), long holidays (six weeks plus Christmas, rising to seven after a year), month-long sabbaticals every 30 months, and time off and money to do further education courses. Plus guest chefs from Borough Market cook everyone lunch on Thursdays.
6. Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Despite operating on a "treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen" work ethic, having Bartle Bogle Hegarty on your CV is still a winner. If you want to get knee-deep in advertising, and learn from the pros, this is the place. But don't expect to be pampered if you don't meet the agency's high standards.
7. Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO was set up, back in the day, on the basis of looking after its staff. Although it has moved down the table from yesteryear, it still places staff welfare at the core of its business and has a stellar client list.
8. Beattie McGuinness Bungay
In the three years since its launch, Beattie McGuinness Bungay has attracted a host of talented staff who are tired of working at network agencies and want to try something new. It's a great place to work now, but it will be interesting to see whether selling a stake of the business to Cheil will change the dynamics of the agency in 2009.
Iris is that rare thing in adland: yes, it's caring. According to the people that work there, staff feel encouraged to grow, they are excited by the work, and actually care about and like each other. What happy pills are they handing out?
Everyone at Karmarama feels a little safer when Dave Buonaguidi, the founding partner of Karmarama and a one-man vigilante mob, is around. Don't even think about breaking into the West London office or you could get hit hard on the head with a shovel. The violence stops there, though. With a small-agency culture, and meetings in a beautiful garden, it's not a surprise that it's a happy, (mostly) calm place.