Top 100 Agencies: School Reports. (3 of 4)

Type of agency: Advertising
Company ownership: AIM-listed
Key personnel: Moray MacLennan chairman
Tim Duffy chief executive
Graham Fink creative director
Richard Storey chief strategy officer
Richard Alford managing director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £255m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £267m
Total accounts year end: 44
Accounts won: 10 (biggest: MFI)
Accounts lost: 1 (Wanadoo)
Number of staff: 272 (static)

The senior management team at M&C Saatchi will be the first to admit 2006 was hugely important, as it strove to bury the corpse of losing British Airways.

The agency not only had to replace those lost billings - which it began doing as early as November 2005 by picking up the Direct Line business - but also show the industry it was still a force to be reckoned with.

The year didn't quite start according to plan, though. M&C lost the £16 million Wanadoo account in a pan-European review by the latter's France Telecom parent. However, the agency didn't miss a beat. It bounced back well, picking up accounts throughout the year, including Kingsmill, some Royal Bank of Scotland briefs, Power Desk, a small portion of the Heinz account, GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade sports drinks brief and MFI. It also managed to get some decent work out the door too, with its spot for the Foster's brand Twist one highlight - as much for the excellent choice of music as the slick execution.

But amid all that progress, the agency did suffer one huge loss along the way. Namely, the departure of the long-serving Nick Hurrell.

As Moray MacLennan, the chairman of M&C's UK group, now takes on Hurrell's European responsibilities with a view to launching more offices on the continent (in July 2006, M&C opened a Berlin branch to back its Spanish and French operations), he will become increasingly reliant on the senior management team. His responsibilities as the IPA president this year will undoubtedly prove a distraction to some degree. That's no hardship, though. The M&C management team appears to have settled into a consistently strong working group after 2005's introduction of Graham Fink as the executive creative director and Camilla Tappin as the marketing director. It all means the agency goes into 2007 with the emotional scars of BA's departure healing well, and a solid base on which to make further progress. More creative highs are required for 2007.

Score last year: 4

Score this year: 6

How M&C Saatchi rates itself: 7

"There were two ways to go following the loss of BA. We have, fortunately, gone up, rather than down. Ten new-business wins. A refreshed creative department producing consistently good work. A new integrated offering. Opening a Berlin office. A very strong performance, we think, given what has happened to other agencies that lost their most famous account."

McCann Erickson
Type of agency: Advertising
Company ownership: Interpublic subsidiary
Key personnel: Stephen Whyte chief executive
Brian Fraser executive creative director
Simon Learman executive creative director
Nikki Crumpton executive planning director
Chris Macdonald managing director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £292m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £298m
Total accounts year end: 102
Accounts won: 6 (biggest: HP)
Accounts lost: 1 (Reckitt Benckiser)
Number of staff: Undisclosed

Although the eight-strong "dream team" that Rupert Howell hoped would turn around the fortunes of McCann Erickson London now numbers just four (Mark Reddy, Christian Hinchcliffe and Frank Lieberman all left in 2006), a number of appointments and promotions have steadied the ship.

Chris Macdonald's promotion to managing director was well deserved, while the agency's coup of signing Nikki Crumpton from Fallon as the planning director strengthened the agency at its core.

Meanwhile, the agency has boosted its content offering, opening a production facility called Chrome and signing the former producer Stephen Worley as its head of production.

McCann's reel is one of its strongest ever. And while the joint executive creative directors Brian Fraser and Simon Learman might not enjoy the fame Robert Campbell did, there has been no let-up in the creative standards their predecessor.

The agency needs account wins to replace the billings lost when it was forced to pull out of the Reckitt Benckiser pitch by IPG owing to a conflict with the SC Johnson account held by its sister network FCB. In the process, McCann lost the Boots Healthcare International business, worth £60 million.

The wins look as if they might have started, though. Victory in August on Manor Bakeries' Mr Kipling brand and the arrival of the £18 million Heinz account later in the year were two fillips that, while not making up for the failure to snare the £80 million Sony Ericsson account, will have buoyed the McCann senior management.

Score last year: 5

Score this year: 6

How McCann Erickson rates itself: 7

"The year saw genuine progress towards three key objectives: attracting talent, winning awards and winning clients. The planning head, Nikki Crumpton, arrived from Fallon. We had our best year for awards to date. And we picked up HP, Maestro, Cheerios, Mr Kipling and Heinz (although we just missed BT and Sony Ericsson). In addition, we successfully launched Chrome, an industry-leading digital production studio. A very good performance in what was a tough year for the industry."

Type of agency: Media planning and buying
Ownership: Havas subsidiary
Key personnel: Marc Mendoza managing partner
Mark Craze managing partner
Marie Oldham strategy director
John McLoughlin managing director (Media Contacts)
Ian Rotherham head of international
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £90m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £86m
Total accounts year end: 99
Accounts won: 22 (biggest: De Agostini)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: ING Direct)
TV: 32%
Press: 27%
Outdoor: 8%
Radio: 3%
Other (including online): 30%
Number of staff: 125 (+22.5%)

It was another busy year for Media Planning Group under the whirlwind leadership of its managing partners, Mark Craze and Marc Mendoza. There is now an undoubted energy at the agency, which helped it to start 2006 well.

Unfortunately, not all the news was good for MPG. Losing its flagship account, ING Direct, in September - £15 million in billings it could ill afford to see walk out of the door - was a heavy blow.

To its credit, however, MPG scrapped and fought to more than replace this lost business. Craze is almost half way through a three-year growth plan for the agency, which notched up a string of pitch victories over the 12 months. However, he may need more wins along the lines of the £12 million DeAgostini account - rather than a long list of smaller ones - if he is to hit his targets. Other significant wins included Eidos and New Covent Garden Food Company. There were disappointments for the agency after it pitched for, but failed to win, Danone and Waitrose. Craze made strides in strengthening MPG's management team - bringing in Jim McDonald as the head of broadcast, and Martyn Stokes from Universal McCann as the strategy director. Elsewhere in the agency, MPG's digital arm, Media Contacts, continued to offer one of the stronger services around.

As is usual with MPG, the wider network picture could play a large part in shaping its UK fortunes. The agency gained a new global chief executive in the shape of Alfonso Rodes Vila, who succeeded his brother Fernando (now the chief executive of Havas). Meanwhile, speculation about the Rodes family and the Havas chairman, Vincent Bollore, exploring a media tie-up with Aegis continues.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 6

How Media Planning Group rates itself: 6

"Strong new-business performance with 22 wins and involvement in all major pitches. Media Contacts goes from strength to strength, with billings up 26 per cent to £44 million. High point: helping Magners become the most successful brand of 2006. Low point: losing ING Direct. Without this loss, we would have given ourselves eight. Priorities for 2007? Generate even more creativity and integration in our work, continue to get invited to the major pitches, and win more of them."

Metropolitan Police
Type of agency: Planning, buying and comms
Company ownership: WPP subsidiary
Key personnel: Nick Lawson chief executive
Jane Ratcliffe managing director
Sue Unerman chief strategic officer
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £883m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £965m
Total accounts year end: 170
Accounts won: 22 (biggest: Prudential Group)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: De Agostini)
TV: 40%
Press: 28%
Outdoor: 7.75%
Radio: 3%
Below the line: 2%
Other (including online): 19.25%
Number of staff: 493 (+29%)

The year opened with two questions hanging over MediaCom. How would the agency fare under a fresh management team, following the departure of the influential Stephen Allan and David Kyffin to Group M? And how would it adapt to life in the WPP empire?

MediaCom's new structure, based around the chief executive, Nick Lawson, has provided strong, stable leadership, making the transition smooth and seamless. Observers expected MediaCom to lose its "big agency, small agency" feel under WPP's ownership, but these fears so far appear unfounded.

On the new-business front, MediaCom did well, winning £41.5 million-worth (excluding regional offices) to finish sixth in Campaign's new-business rankings. One of the highlights of the year was landing Universal Theatrical following a fiercely competitive pitch. It also picked up Digital UK, the Prudential Group's consolidated media account, and won a place on the COI planning roster. Other notable wins included the Royal Bank of Scotland's online business.

MediaCom didn't stand still in 2006 and much of its organic growth came from relatively new areas, including branded content, recruitment and digital. It rolled out a specialist division to buy recruitment space, and bought its Manchester office outright, having previously held a 19 per cent stake.There was good work along the way as well, for, among others, the Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident campaign.

Meanwhile, digital growth was especially impressive, with the online division Media.Com doubling in size through the creation of a search and affiliates team and scores of new staff. Media.Com is also venturing into areas like in-game advertising. The challenge for 2007 is to throw a brighter spotlight on its strategic credentials.

Score last year: 8

Score this year: 7

How MediaCom rates itself: 8

"MediaCom has come through a potentially tricky period of regime change: strong, stable, still number one, and still innovative. We lost several senior managers to Group M, and put in place a new team to take MediaCom forward. We won £150 million of new business (including Manchester and Scotland offices), and lost no significant clients. Much of our growth came from relatively new areas (eg, branded content, recruitment and digital) indicating how MediaCom is evolving to reflect a changing world."

Type of agency: Comms planning and implementation
Company ownership: WPP subsidiary
Key personnel: Tom George chief executive
Toby Jenner joint managing director
Steve Hatch joint managing director
Stuart Sullivan Martin chief strategy officer
Jason Dormieux managing partner, MEC Interaction
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £233m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £213m
Total accounts year end: 74
Accounts won: 13 (biggest: Danone)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: ntl:Telewest)
TV: 41%
Press: 29%
Outdoor: 12%
Radio: 4%
Other (including online): 14%
Number of staff: 192 (+9%)

Mediaedge:cia had a fantastic year, winning bucketloads of new business and building its strategic planning credentials. 2006 was the year the agency shook off the hangover of the messy merger between CIA UK and The Media Edge and made its mark as MEC. Its new-business record spoke volumes about the progress made, not just in terms of the number of pitches and volume of billings won but, perhaps most tellingly, in consistently winning through against agencies of considerable size and reputation.

The highlight of MEC's year in new business was the capture of Danone's £28 million media brief after a protracted pitch against OMD, Carat and Media Planning Group. However, the agency also raised its game in terms of the work it produced for clients, as evidenced by the capture of a number of COI briefs, numerous accolades for its Xerox work, and the top award at the Campaign Media Awards.

Part of MEC's success is rooted in a strong, stable management team, led by the newly installed UK chief executive, Tom George. George has led the agency's new-business blitz from the front and expanded its non-traditional services such as sponsorship and digital. And as the agency turns a corner, George has also restructured MEC's management team to build on its success - the operations director, Toby Jenner, and the head of strategy, Steve Hatch, were promoted to joint managing directors. Looking ahead, MEC should be full of ambition this year, primarily to continue its high pitch-conversion rate and to appear on more big pitchlists as it looks to fill client gaps. In doing so, it will doubtless be keen to capitalise on the buying power of Group M. After an excellent 2006, the agency is now in fine shape to make the most of the future.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 8

How Mediaedge:cia rates itself: 8

"2006 was a watershed in our development. With £120 million of new business, Agency of the Year nominations from Campaign, Media Week and Marketing Week and a Campaign Gold Award for Media Campaign of the Year, 2006 was when the industry perception of MEC finally caught up with the reality."

Type of agency: Media independent
Company ownership: 20% owned by Publicis Groupe
Key personnel: Dave Lucas managing partner
Andy Jeal managing partner
Ian Lees director
Paul Catlow director
Charlie Varley planning director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £114m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £117m
Total accounts year end: 218
Accounts won: 5 (biggest: GHD Global)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: Alliance & Leicester)
TV: 25%
Press: 40%
Outdoor: 3%
Radio: 5%
Below the line: 9%
Other (including online): 18%
Number of staff: 165 (+1.3%)

Many times in the past, we've noted MediaVest Manchester's effortless capacity for reinventing itself. In 2005, it was all about restructuring the agency into groups excelling at specialist disciplines. In 2006, the agency significantly raised its industry profile through the appointment of Charlie Varley. Varley was a partner at Walker Media and boasts an impressive resume, including spells at OMD, Carat and WCRS. Luring him to Manchester was a real coup.

And the agency's new-business performance in the middle part of the year must have reassured Varley he'd made the right decision. A number of wins - notably the £5 million GHD haircare account - propelled it into the top ten of Campaign's new-business rankings. These victories provided evidence that it continues to trade highly effectively on its USP as a largely autonomous regional agency (the founders, Andy Jeal and David Lucas, who launched it in 1994, are still its proprietors), backed by the might of its minority shareholder Publicis.

So, after such a bright start to 2006, MediaVest Manchester will be perplexed by its shaky performance in the second half of the year. It lost the Robert Dyas account, saw one of its most important clients, Alliance & Leicester, walk out the door having decided to consolidate its roster, and then saw PHD North pinch its Otto catalogues business following a review.

These losses put a dent in an otherwise solid year, but with its proven ability to continually freshen itself up, there's nothing to get unduly worried about at MediaVest Manchester.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 5

How MediaVest Manchester rates itself: 7

"A steady year has seen turnover increase - we anticipate breaking the £200 million mark for the fiscal year ending February 2007 - and strong growth in digital media, where we retain our top-five national position. New client wins such as Coral Betting, GHD, Hidden Hearing and Express Gifts have offset the disappointing loss of our Alliance & Leicester business and, with the appointment of Charlie Varley, we have augmented an already strong management team."

Type of agency: Communications planning
Company ownership: Private company
Key personnel: George Michaelides managing partner
Graham Bednash managing partner
Paul O'Neill managing partner
Total accounts year end: 30
Accounts won: 4 (biggest: thelondonpaper)
Accounts lost: 1 (Ronseal)
TV: 31%
Press: 16%
Outdoor: 19%
Radio: 7%
Below the line: 12%
Other (including online): 15%
Number of staff: 15 (no change)

The most significant event in Michaelides & Bednash's year was the departure of Jason Gonsalves - one of its biggest talents and the brains behind award-winning work for Channel 4 - to Bartle Bogle Hegarty in July.

At the time of writing, M&B has not yet replaced Gonsalves; doing so will be one of its most important tasks in 2007. He was highly valued by C4, so making the right appointment is all the more important if that relationship is to continue to prosper.

Despite this setback, the work M&B produced did much to cement its reputation as one of the most interesting propositions in the media agency space. M&B's output straddles territory occupied by both media and creative agencies.

One neat example of this was a campaign for Penguin Books that found a fresh way to market a novel in modern times - it was sold weekly by the chapter, for ten weeks, until its conclusion, rekindling a Victorian publishing idea popularised by the likes of Charles Dickens. Another impressive campaign was M&B's work with Unilever on its Persil brand, resulting in the latter's first advertiser-funded programming initiative and some creative integrated work involving a games skills pack for children.

On the new-business front, M&B had a less inspired year. It picked up a number of briefs and added thelondonpaper to its client list, but lost the Ronseal account to MediaCom without a pitch.

Although M&B is a small, specialised agency, with a proven track record of creating interesting and brilliant ideas for a variety of clients, the criticism that it is too reliant on existing clients for growth remains. Perhaps one way of addressing this, and future-proofing itself, would be to expand its operation into the digital space through the creation of a specialist in-house division.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 5

How Michaelides & Bednash rates itself: 6

"Highlights were winning thelondonpaper and helping it win London's paper war; our ideas for Penguin, where we developed a whole new way to market a book; co-developing one of Unilever's biggest integrated campaigns for Persil and creating its first ever TV content series; co-creating more breakthrough ideas for Channel 4."

Type of agency: Advertising
Company ownership: 51% owned by Cossette Communications
Key personnel: Jeremy Miles chairman
Helen Calcraft managing director
Paul Briginshaw creative director
Malcolm Duffy creative director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £68m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £76m
Total accounts year end: 20
Accounts won: 4 (biggest: DoH anti-smoking)
Accounts lost: 1 (Thomson Directories)
Number of staff: 68 (+23%)

Quieter than usual, dependable as ever - that probably best sums up Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy in 2006. For although the agency was never going to make as much noise as it did the previous year (when it sold to Cossette Communications), there is much to praise in both its output and new-business record.

MCBD landed the £3 million business in April last year. And while the subsequent loss of Thomson Directories and failure to win a place on the Yell shortlist were cruel blows, MCBD's triumph alongside Farm on the £12 million Department of Health anti-smoking brief was cause for much celebration at the agency.

That win ended Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO's 22-year stranglehold on the account and will have been all the sweeter coming as it did after MCBD was branded with the sobriquet "AMV-lite" in the press.

MCBD proved last year that it can handle both effective and creative campaigns. It romped home at the Campaign Press Awards with its long-copy work for the outdoor retailer Millets and scored a silver at the IPA Effectiveness Awards with its work for Travelocity.

The only downbeat note that can be sounded was the string of high-profile defections in Paul Briginshaw's and Malcolm Duffy's creative department, to both Clemmow Hornby Inge and TBWA\London.

MCBD can't afford to take its foot off the pedal in 2007 and will need to work hard to hit its targets and make its earnouts.

Score last year: 8

Score this year: 6

How Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy rates itself: 7

"Another strong year, capped by our appointment by the Department of Health. This and wins from JCB, uSwitch and Mira contributed to a 40 per cent increase in gross income and a 209 per cent increase in pre-tax profit. Creative highs include our Metropolitan Police (Trident) campaign, our success at the Campaign Press Awards for Millets and a good showing at D&AD, Cannes and Creative Circle. Silver and bronze at the IPA Effectiveness Awards showed that planning is thriving at MCBD, too."

Type of agency: Media
Company ownership: WPP subsidiary
Key personnel: Jed Glanvill chief executive
Ita Murphy managing director
Martyn Rees managing director, House of Media
Sandra Collins director of new business and marketing
Andy Zonfrillo investment director
Nielsen Media Research billing 2006: £732m
Nielsen Media Research billing 2005: £768m
Total accounts year end: 55
Accounts won: 11 (biggest: American Express)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: Crookes)
TV: 57%
Press: 22%
Other (including online): 9%
Outdoor: 6%
Radio: 6%
Number of staff: 356 (+9%)

MindShare might not be grabbing the headlines it did two years ago, when it won the Unilever business, but there's no doubt it is still growing and - in areas such as branded content - making interesting moves.

Last year, though, its new-business record was erratic. The agency's biggest win came at the back end, when American Express switched its £11 million media business to MindShare from Carat. Other wins included Napster and A1 Grand Prix. On the downside, the agency lost three accounts including Abbey Digital, Crookes (Boots Healthcare) and the media buying for Pfizer.

But on a more positive note, MindShare was added to the COI roster for the first time. It also won all three COI planning briefs it pitched for, proof that it had raised its communications planning game.

The media shop has also placed more emphasis on its digital offering, restructuring around MindShare Interaction - a move that has paid dividends. Wins for Napster, South African Tourism and Malaysia Airlines were all secured on the strength of its digital offering.

One of the most exciting developments at the agency has been the strides it has made in branded content. MindShare has developed some truly stand-out work under its House of Media proposition for a number of its clients including Nike, IBM, Land Rover and Sure. Highlights included an advertiser-funded TV series which aired on ITV for Sure called Sure Fans United.

It would be good to see MindShare converting more big pitches in 2007, but with few gaps in its portfolio, this is easier said than done. The agency's move towards becoming a content provider through the development of branded-content materials should see its House of Media proposition continue to flourish.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 6

How MindShare rates itself: 7

"We have put digital at the centre of our proposition, and restructured the agency around this goal. We believe we lead the industry in the development of content for brands including Sure, Land Rover, Nike and IBM. After making it on to the COI media planning roster, we won three out of three pitches, with combined billings of £25 million. Other wins include American Express and Napster. 2006, the busiest year yet for MindShare's free bar!"

Type of agency: Digital full-service
Company ownership: Publicis Groupe/Digitas subsidiary
Key personnel: Norm Johnston managing director Europe
Chris Clarke executive creative director
Ruth Sreenan head of technology and enablement
Laura Agostini head of talent management
Declared income: n/s
Total accounts year end: 17 (across Europe)
Accounts won: 7 (biggest: HP)
Accounts lost: 1 (GSK)
Creative: n/s
Media planning/buying: n/s
Web design/build: n/s
Consultancy: n/s
Biggest-spending clients: General Motors, HP, Lloyds TSB Group
Number of staff: 120 (+20%)

One of the biggest criticisms levelled at Modem Media in the 2005 school report was that it lacked creative sparkle. The agency tried to remedy this early in 2006 with the hiring of a new executive creative director - Chris Clarke from Wheel - in the hope he would help transform its creative credentials. This has yet to happen, but there have been a few promising signs.

Overall, the year in review was less about Modem's creative department and more about its show of strength in other key areas. It continued to win new business throughout the 12 months up to the end of December, netting digital briefs from Vauxhall, Barilla, Sega and COI. It also won a place on the Samsung digital roster.

But the major internal focal point for Modem in 2006 was HP. It's a big client and one that the London office already worked with on a project basis. In November, though, the agency picked up a £10 million EMEA account that positioned it as the agency of record for two major HP divisions across the region, and also included some above-the-line work. That it succeeded in winning HP shows the pulling power of Modem's network offering and the strength of its project work.

This key victory for the group also prompted a spate of new offices opening up across Europe. Expansion is likely to continue into 2007: the UK office is expected to house around 200 staff by the year end.

Yet despite its new-business success, it's fair to say that Modem has done little to shift its corporate image. The exception was the HP Palmistry viral (where unsuspecting victims were invited to place a hand on their screen so that the computer could read their palm), for which it scooped a Campaign Digital Award. This was proof that Modem could compete with the creative giants of digital.

Covering more creative ground will still be the challenge for Modem throughout 2007. It is now well placed to prove itself as a great all-rounder following a strong performance on other fronts in 2006.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 7

How Modem Media rates itself: 9

"Modem Media was described as a sleeping giant at the end of 2005, but in 2006 it began to find its true identity. Modem was always a strategic agency and a solid pair of hands, but it lacked creative sparkle. A key hire early in 2006 was Chris Clarke (from Wheel) as the executive creative director. He has sprinkled some magic creative dust on our existing accounts and has redefined Modem Media as a creative agency."

Type of agency: Advertising
Company ownership: Private company
Key personnel: Robert Saville creative partner
Mark Waites creative partner
Andy Medd strategy partner
Stef Calcraft strategy partner
Matt Clark finance partner
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £159m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £142m
Total accounts year end: 27
Accounts won: 10 (biggest: Yell)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: Orange)
Number of staff: 132 (+2.64%)

In the year it reached the ripe old age of ten, Mother showed that it had lost none of the creative clout, iconoclastic zeal and new-business nous that has made it one of the most famous advertising agencies of the past decade. That it did so in the same year it bade a rueful farewell to the £60 million Orange account was all the more impressive.

Mother began 2006 in a bullish mood, winning the £5 million Pot Noodle and Emap Zoo accounts in rapid succession.

France Telecom's decision to appoint Fallon and Marcel to the Orange account, against the wishes of the UK client, was a cruel blow, but it didn't appear to dampen Mother's taste for the fight.

Mother went on to take the £10 million PG Tips account, was the first UK agency to create a Coca-Cola Christmas ad, won the Yell business after one of the most protracted pitches in advertising history, and landed a coveted spot on the Johnson & Johnson roster with a brief to launch Rembrandt in Europe. Other J&J agencies will be eyeing the Shoreditch shop carefully for any signs of an expanded role with the FMCG giant in 2007.

Creatively, Mother's 2006 was a vintage year: there was strong work for Boots, Amnesty International and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. Orange asked Mother to continue its "Gold Spot" cinema campaign and there was striking work for Diageo and Schweppes.

In a year that saw relatively few personnel changes at the agency, there was one notable departure. The strategy director Jonathan Mildenhall's decision to cross the floor and go client-side will have been bittersweet news. It's a blow to the new-business department, which has effectively replaced the Orange loss, but the fact that he's joining Coca-Cola as the global vice-president of marketing should see the agency's hold on that account strengthened even further.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 8

How Mother rates itself: 8

"Mother is ten years old. Boring. It's this year that counts. Highlight as always is the work, from Egg "guinea pigs", Ozzy "butter", Orange, Xfm "roadies", Boots "summer", Pot Noodle "miners" and finishing with Christmas work for Coca-Cola and Boots. Made up the business hole after Orange with wins on PG Tips, Yell, Penguin and Red. And we're reasonably confident of making our 11th birthday."

Type of agency: Communications planning
Company ownership: Private company
Key personnel: Jon Wilkins founding partner
John Harlow founding partner
Will Collin founding partner
Ivan Pollard partner
Nigel Long chief executive
Nielsen Media Research billing 2006: n/a
Nielsen Media Research billing 2005: n/a
Total accounts year end: 73
Accounts won: 47 (biggest: Coke)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: Selfridges)
Number of staff: 74 (+34%)

Last year, Naked's senior management team scattered to the four corners of the world as it expanded into markets as diverse as New York and Singapore. Accordingly, its founders took steps to alter the management structure of its UK offering as their commitments took them elsewhere.

Niku Banaie, Jo Pearce and Geoff Gray were promoted to become the managing partners of the UK operation in March, and then in September, Nigel Long, a non-executive director of the business, took on the full-time group chief executive role.

For a short period, following the creation of the managing partner structure, it seemed that the wheels were coming off at Naked. It lost its prized Honda account - which moved from a retainer to project work - and then its Selfridges business.

However, the ship was more than steadied and London account wins included several COI briefs (notably on passports and HM Revenue & Customs), Gap, Western Union and Hachette Filipacchi. Naked also expanded its remit for Coca-Cola. Its work for Nokia on a global music project also finally saw the light of day.

Income and staff numbers both rose impressively (the London office of Naked now employs 74 people) and Naked backed new-business ventures as a way of finding fresh revenue streams. These included Lunch Communications, a "brand activation" business, in which Naked has a minority stake, and ODD, a creative and design agency, which is run by Naked's former head of strategy, Jon Forsyth.

With so much focus on international expansion over the year - New York is said to be in profit already - Naked's new London management must now prove its ability to keep the mother ship in tip-top shape.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 7

How Naked rates itself: 8

"2006 - home and away success. Under a new management team Naked UK has grown income by 24 per cent, with the final quarter being a Naked record in new business. Strong foundations allowed Naked to venture internationally - the US office has revenues of $3 million and is profitable in its first year. For the third consecutive year, Australia is agency of the year, and 2007 will see the launch of Tokyo, making group income £12 million."

Type of agency: Above/below the line and digital
Company ownership: Private company
Key personnel: Johan Fourie managing director
Paul Shearer executive creative director
Tom Adams managing director, Mook
Paul Adrian head of integration, Nitro Direct
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £6m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £13m
Total accounts year end: 30
Accounts won: 12 (biggest: Coca-Cola Aquarius)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: Oxy)
Number of staff: 65 (+40%)

Nitro's first full year of business was full of ups and downs. Numerous departures occurred during 2006, beginning with the loss of the general manager Enda McCarthy - who moved to FCB London in January.

The agency tried to steady the ship with a string of new appointments, also designed to redress the balance of a creatively top-heavy management team.It hired a new planning director, Verra Budimlija, and then a European managing director, Johan Fourie.

Despite two further appointments made late in the year - Chris Nurko and Steven Marrs joined as the global head of innovation and the global digital strategist respectively - the boat was again rocked as Christmas approached.

Ending weeks of unsettling speculation, Bruce Crouch and Andy Bird announced their departures in December. Waving farewell to the last remaining members of the Soul management may, however, give the agency an opportunity to carve itself a more future-facing positioning in the London ad market.

The revolving door did not stifle the agency's progress entirely, however. Nitro snatched Coca-Cola's EUR20 million Aquarius account from Mustoes and, on the awards front, it took silvers for its Nike and GLA "one London" work at the Campaign Poster Awards. The awards hint that, despite the turbulence, the creative output shows promise, but to fulfil that potential, work for lesser-known brands need to improve.

Nitro clearly has ambitions for growth and expansion: its digital agency Mook continues to grow at pace, and there is a strategy for getting on the rosters of some large blue-chip clients. Management stability and strong leadership may define the extent to which it can fulfil all its ambitions in 2007.

Score last year: n/a

Score this year: 5

How Nitro rates itself: 6

"2006 started well, with Nike and Coca-Cola joining our roster. We won two Campaign Poster awards for the GLA and Nike, and a silver Lion at Cannes for Nike.

"The year ended well, winning Gaymers. Low was losing one of our very talented strategic planners. Highs included exceptional business results from all our clients, Johan Fourie and Verra Budimlija joining, the awards and the cementing of our holistic proposition, offering clients complete 360-degree communications."

Type of agency: Creative advertising
Company ownership: WPP subsidiary
Key personnel: Gary Leih chairman and CEO, Ogilvy Group UK
Rory Sutherland vice-chairman, Ogilvy Group UK
John Shaw executive planning director, Ogilvy Group UK
Guy Lambert managing director, Ogilvy Advertising
Malcolm Poynton executive creative director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £209m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £264m
Total accounts year end: 29
Accounts won: 9 (biggest: easyJet)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: Kimberly-Clark's Huggies)
Number of staff:: Undisclosed

Ogilvy & Mather's 2006 was a relative blaze of activity. After his first full year in charge, it is hard to discount the effect the group chairman and chief executive, Gary Leih, has made.

Leih started the year by bundling all of Ogilvy's 11 separate agencies together under the same Ogilvy Group UK umbrella. He followed this with a number of changes to the advertising agency.

In a gutsy move, he renamed it Ogilvy Advertising, to differentiate it from his newly created conflict shop, Mather Communications.

The management team running Ogilvy Advertising also changed. Leih split up Guy Lambert and Mike Dodds - who had been successfully co-managing OgilvyOne - putting Lambert in charge of the advertising outfit, alongside the executive creative director, Malcolm Poynton.

This move said a lot about Leih's knowledge of where the real talent lay in his group, and was a clear indicator that he is not scared to shake things up to achieve results. It also rammed home his faith in the group's integrated positioning.These changes have had a positive effect. Not only did the company's new-business record improve - with wins for Chiquita Bananas, Avis, easyJet, Barclays and Hellmann's - but the work was also better, even on Ford.

If there was a disappointment, it was the loss, after more than 20 years, of the iconic Lucozade drinks account to M&C Saatchi.

Despite some fresh forward momentum, there remains a way to go at Ogilvy Advertising. The creative department is well supported with plenty of senior talent, but its output remains mixed at best. Raising the creative bar would give the agency the opportunity to make more noise, although this is only one small part in a far-reaching reconfiguration plan Leih has set about in encouraging fashion.

Score last year: 4

Score this year: 6

How Ogilvy Advertising rates itself: 6

"2006 saw Ogilvy Advertising firmly re-establish itself as a force to be reckoned with. Winning new business is a good indicator of an agency's health and we've won nine accounts, totalling over £140 million in billings. Our awards tally has picked up, too, with 17 awards across five different shows. We have completely overhauled our creative department with five new creative partners, and recent work demonstrates our determination to compete with the best."

The Art Fund
Type of agency: Direct marketing
Company ownership: WPP subsidiary
Key personnel: Mike Dodds managing director
Annette King deputy managing director
Colin Nimick executive creative director
Bo Hellberg creative director, interactive
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: n/a
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: n/a
Total accounts year end: 27
Accounts won: 14 (biggest: easyJet)
Accounts lost: 0
Number of staff: n/s (200 last year)

For some time now, OgilvyOne has been the star performer in Ogilvy's UK network. So, when the news came it was moving closer to its advertising sibling Ogilvy & Mather (now called Ogilvy Advertising) to create Ogilvy Group, observers were understandably sceptical. Would the ad agency drag it down to its level, or could OgilvyOne maintain its success despite the repositioning?

So far, there has been little evidence of slippage, despite splitting the successful joint managing directors, Guy Lambert and Mike Dodds, when the former left to run Ogilvy Advertising in July.

The agency ended 2006 joint-fourth on the new-business league table, with domestic new-business billings of £19 million. Wins included The Art Fund and a coveted place on the Unilever global digital roster.

Creatively, it had a mixed year. Its 2005 "park bench" campaign for Cancer Research UK collected the Grand Prix at the Campaign Direct Awards and a D&AD yellow Pencil. However, the agency failed to secure any golds at the important Direct Marketing Association Awards for its work in 2006. It did create an engaging poster campaign for The Art Fund late in the year, though.

The only blip on an otherwise solid year was the departure of the executive creative director, Cordell Burke. But Colin Nimick, widely believed to be capable of raising standards higher still, picked up the baton without missing a beat.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 7

How OgilvyOne rates itself: 8

"No agency of our scale has performed so well against so many criteria. We've had our best new-business performance in years; our reputation with existing clients has never been higher - we came top in two respected industry reputation surveys; we maintained our impressive awards performance, with Grand Prix winners in Campaign Direct, Revolution and two D&AD Pencils as particular highlights; and we have successfully put digital at the heart of the agency."

Virgin Mobile
Type of agency: Media
Company ownership: Omnicom subsidiary
Key personnel: Nick Manning outgoing chief executive, OMD
Steve Williams: managing director, OMD UK; CEO designate, OMD
Robert Ffitch managing director, Manning Gottlieb OMD
Peter Magnani managing director, OMD International
Peter Thomson managing director, M2M
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £778m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £730m (group billings)
Total accounts year end: 284
Accounts won: 36 (biggest: Virgin Media)
Accounts lost: 3 (biggest: Reebok)
TV: 51%
Press: 21%
Outdoor: 11%
Radio: 5%
Other (including online): 12%
Number of staff: 500 (+24%)

For most of the year, OMD was its usual, consistent self. In September, however, came a bombshell: the group chief executive, Nick Manning, would be stepping down to pursue other interests.

The rumour mill whirled into gear, with observers suggesting discontent between Manning and Colin Gottlieb, his erstwhile business partner and now the chief executive of Omnicom Media Group in Europe. The official line was more prosaic - Manning wanted a new challenge and the timing was right for OMD UK's managing director, Steve Williams, to step up.

The year saw strong new-business performance across OMD, with the only significant loss being the departure of Reebok as part of the global Adidas/Reebok consolidation.

On the plus side, its three agency units, OMD UK, Manning Gottlieb OMD and M2M, landed close to £80 million in new-business billings. MG OMD was the star performer, winning business including Waitrose, John Lewis and the consolidated Virgin Media business, a sign that its work for Virgin continues to be held in high esteem. M2M also had a fair new-business year - winning Betfair Games, Mango UK and Pringle jumpers. OMD UK was solid as ever, landing Alpro as part of a pan-European review, the consolidated Coty business and Boots Healthcare International.

OMD produced some notable work for clients - especially OMD UK's TBA activity for Vodafone and MG OMD for John Lewis.

Williams now has the challenge of building OMD's performance. With strong management around him, the odds are he will pull this off. It will be interesting to see if Omnicom Media Group's plans to recruit a UK chief - who Williams would report to - come off.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 7

How OMD rates itself: 8

"It's been a great year for us. We concentrated all of our energy into people (100 joined this year!), product and our clients. We've become one company; produced brilliant, award-winning work (locally and internationally); retained and grown our clients; and won loads of new business. As a consequence, we have one of the most powerful and contented cultures around and are the second-biggest agency in the UK, with significant year-on-year growth."

Type of agency: Direct marketing
Company ownership: Private company
Key personnel: Phil Andrews managing partner
Steve Aldridge creative partner
Shaun Moran creative director
Kate Waters planning partner
Nina Jasinski marketing partner
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £4m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £4m
Total accounts year end: 14
Accounts won: 4 (biggest: Air Miles)
Accounts lost: 0
Number of staff: 51 (up 6%)

It's hard to criticise Partners Andrews Aldridge when it is so well regarded in terms of creativity and integrity, but, by its own high standards, 2006 was a relatively flat year.

The agency began well enough, winning the £6 million Air Miles direct marketing account. And a combination of its impeccable reputation and the tenacity and skill of its marketing partner, Nina Jasinski, saw it land places on several of the year's big brand pitches. However, it failed to convert those for M&G Investments, Norwich Union Healthcare and Waitrose.

When it comes to digital, rumours that Partners was about to make a significant move came to nothing, suggesting it was unable to attract staff of the right calibre.

Creatively, 2006 was solid, though. Highlights were the mirror campaign for Haringtons hairdressers and the P45 Video Arts mailing. Work for the Wales Tourist Board was inconsistent - but nonetheless DMA Award-winning - and Lexus, traditionally its showcase client, attracted less attention than usual.

On a more positive note, the agency retained all of its clients and was awarded an extra £3 million of Scottish Widows business by Lloyds.

Partners is by no means in bad shape and is still up there among the best. It's just that last year it shone less brightly. At eight years old, the partners need to decide how to handle digital, and whether to grow or sell. And if it is to stay independent, it must find a positioning that can differentiate it from younger rivals.

Score last year: 8

Score this year: 6

How Partners Andrews Aldridge rates itself: 7

"2006 was a return to good old-fashioned Partners values: enjoy the work you do for your clients, let their success be our success and win a lot of awards on the way. We can always do better, good enough never is. Although winning Precision Marketing Agency of the Decade was pretty good."

Reveal (NatMags)
Type of agency: Communications strategy and media
Company ownership: Omnicom subsidiary
Key personnel: Jonathan Durden president
Morag Blazey chief executive
Louise Jones executive strategy director
Mark Holden executive planning director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £231m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £240m
Total accounts year end: 95
Accounts won: 25 (biggest: ING Direct)
Accounts lost: 8 (biggest: Prudential)
TV: 45%
Press: 20%
Outdoor: 12%
Radio: 5%
Below the line: 2%
Other (including online): 16%
Number of staff: 227 (+3%)

After being named Campaign's Media Agency of the Year for 2005, PHD responded in 2006 with a rather uneven performance.

It was certainly an eventful 12 months for the agency. First, the chairman, Tess Alps, surprised the industry when she left to head the TV marketing body, Thinkbox. Then, the worldwide chief executive, David Pattison, announced he was stepping down after 17 years with the agency he helped found. As a result, a new UK structure was announced, with the managing director, Morag Blazey, stepping up to chief executive.

Much of PHD's UK management team was heavily involved in the roll-out of its international network last year. This has now reached 46 markets. But, in UK terms, the agency did not have things all its own way.

It lost blue-chip accounts such as BT planning, Prudential and Hyundai, in addition to smaller business such as Revlon and Famous Grouse.

On the plus side, it landed Warner Music, ING Direct, AIG, Betfair and Otto UK, putting it more than £20 million in the black in terms of net new business won.

PHD Group's star performer in 2006 was its Rocket unit, which won more business than the main agency - including GCap Media, The National Magazine Company and Co-op - and continued to produce work of a high standard. Rocket seems to have benefited from a new structure under its managing director, Mark Girling, and the executive planning director, Mark Sherwood. This followed the merger of PHD's regional media operation, PHD Compass, into Rocket, a reshuffle that gives greater buying experience.

In 2007, it will be interesting to see how PHD copes with the loss of Pattison and Alps, and whether Blazey and her team can continue to build UK momentum.

Score last year: 9

Score this year: 7

How PHD Group rates itself: 7

"We 'over'-invested in training - with an extensive ten-week digital training programme for all planners and a first-class media training programme for clients. Leading to motivated staff - no business lost due to poor service/work. Won £120 million-worth of business - most successful year in PHD's 17-year history. Grew across the world, with 41 offices launching across 32 markets. PHD's low was saying goodbye to two much loved members of staff - David Pattison and Tess Alps."

Type of agency: Full-service digital communications agency
Company ownership: Private company
Key personnel: Daryl Arnold chairman and chief executive
Wayne Arnold European chief executive
Daniele Fiandaca chief operating officer
Matt Powell creative director
Declared income: £6.4m (up from £4.4m in 2005)
Total accounts year end: 14
Accounts won: 6 (biggest: Mini)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: Bulldog)
Media planning and buying: 35%
Creative: 35%
Digital strategy: 15%
Website design and build: 15%
Biggest-spending clients: Channel 4, COI,
Number of staff: 65 (+18%)

Profero won some solid business in 2006. It managed this while simultaneously diversifying services (in line with growing market convergence) and altering perceptions of its creative credentials. The progress made in these areas all added up to an impressive performance from the Camden-based digital specialist.

New-business wins were more modest than the bonanza of 2005, but the company did pull in accounts from Adnams, COI,, Johnson & Johnson, Mini (which it shares with glue London) and Western Union. As a result, it also invested in a slew of new staff to cater for the increased workload.

After a rather weak performance creatively the previous year, 2006 saw Profero raise its game in this department. Thanks to its full-service offering, the agency has suffered from perceptions that its media services are stronger than its creative. But after defending its Home Office account for the Child Protection campaign, the agency went on to win a number of creative awards, including the Internet Advertising Bureau Showcase and a Campaign Digital Award. The highlight was probably its "journey round the web" work for Mini. Its Home Office digital anti-drugs campaign, Frank, also attracted praise.

Perhaps one of the most significant events of last year for Profero was that, like some of its rivals, it made some small steps into traditional media. The agency launched its first digital outdoor ad campaign, for Refuge. Tellingly, Profero's creative work for the Child Protection campaign recently found its way into the above-the-line executions. If the agency can up the frequency when it comes to flashes of creative excellence - and apply that quality across the board - 2007 could see it also start to compete with some of the more traditional agencies.

Score last year: 6

Score this year: 7

How Profero rates itself: 8

"This year was all about the work and delivering highly innovative and effective campaigns. We believe 2007 will be about pushing our creativity even further and our ambition must be to work with a number of clients as the lead agency, especially where digital is core to their business."

Type of agency: Integrated creative agency
Company ownership: BBDO Worldwide subsidiary
Key personnel: Amanda Philips chief executive officer
Caitlin Ryan executive creative director
Mark Hancock director of strategy
Mark Iremonger head of digital
Lou Barber client services director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £39m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £22m
Total accounts year end: 21
Accounts won: 4 (biggest: Motorola)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: Panasonic)
Number of staff: 270 (+82%)

Proximity may be the UK's biggest direct marketing agency and it may well be the most-awarded DM agency in the world too (according to the Won Report). But in the absence of real fireworks on the new-business side, the focus yet again is on the London office's revolving door.

2006 saw the arrival of a new managing partner, Claire Wright, who joined from Draft; the appointment of Nicola Rogers as the board creative group head; the hiring of Leo Burnett's new-business director, Laura Holme, as the marketing director; the promotion of Mark Hancock to strategy director (at long last replacing Simon Calvert, who decamped to FCB in 2005); and the hiring of Pete Petrella from Wheel as the digital creative director. Departures included the client services director, Ian Cruikshank, the planning director, Richard Hill, the head of design, Dave Farley, and the digital account director, Mark Killingley.

New-business wise, the agency hasn't made it easy for us to assess its performance, shrouding details of two of its four 2006 account wins (Jim Beam and Motorola) in confidentiality. Stripping those out of the equation leaves Allianz (some global digital work) and a brief from the drug-maker AstraZeneca.

On the downside, Panasonic departed, along with O2 - although the latter's exit came on the back of its decision to take data in-house. Another blow came at the very end of the year, when Sainsbury's moved its DM to the rival outfit Tullo Marshall Warren.

With all the management comings and goings, 2006 was never going to be a stellar year for Proximity. But it certainly wasn't a terrible one either, despite those high-profile account losses. The agency still has some pulling power when it comes to attracting talent - with a settled senior management team, 2007 should accurately reflect the sum of its constituent parts.

Score last year: 5

Score this year: 5

How Proximity London rates itself: 7

"This year's solid performance has been underpinned by strong revenue growth, key senior appointments, five significant account wins and a clutch of gold awards recognising integration, effectiveness and creativity. This, coupled with initiatives to develop existing clients' business, has contributed to the agency achieving more than 20 per cent year-on-year growth. With a refreshed senior management team now in place, 2007 will strengthen our position as the UK's leading integrated creative agency."

Type of agency: Advertising/full service
Company ownership: Publicis Groupe subsidiary
Key personnel: Tim Lindsay group chairman
Nik Studzinski executive creative director
Grant Duncan chief executive
Paul Edwards chief strategy officer
Dennis Kerslake chairman, Publicis Dialog
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £250m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £285m
Total accounts year end: 71
Accounts won: 9 (biggest: Post Office)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: MFI)
Number of staff: 555 (+8%)

Just days before Christmas, a personnel departure from earlier in 2006 came back to haunt Publicis. The former worldwide chief operating officer, Rick Bendel had left Publicis in October to take up the role of marketing director at Asda. In December, he asked Publicis, the incumbent on Asda, to defend the supermarket account in a two-way pitch against its sister shop, Fallon. Coming as it did after the loss of MFI to M&C Saatchi, this made for a disappointing end to what was otherwise a good year for Publicis. By January, the entire Asda business had gone to Fallon, which will take some getting over.

Turn the clock back 12 months and things had looked much rosier. Publicis started 2006 well, holding on to the Post Office business following a statutory review (although it would decline to repitch for that business when it came up for review yet again, early in 2007).

It followed this victory by winning the Premier Foods brands Quorn and Oxo, as well as Yeo Valley Yogurts and Save the Children. The senior management team at Publicis worked hard to try to bring in good domestic accounts - often a major difficulty for bigger agencies whose books are full of network business - and will be pleased with its efforts.

Publicis also worked to expand its direct marketing arm, Dialog, as it strives to create better integration between the two businesses. To facilitate this, the company moved Dennis Kerslake, its former regional director on HP's EMEA business, to the newly appointed role of chairman of Dialog. He was replaced by Karen Hughes, the former head of brand management at Visa Europe.

There were clearly positive steps made at Publicis last year; but ultimately, 2006 will go down as the end of an era. Facing 2007 without the flagship Asda client it had held for 17 years will make for challenging times.

Score last year: 5

Score this year: 5

How Publicis rates itself: 7

"It was a year in which Publicis completed the management line-up, brought in new talent, revitalised the new-business and marketing drive and created some famous, award winning creative work. Highlights included scooping the Premier Foods brands Quorn and Oxo, picking up Yeo Valley, extending the Post Office contract and strengthening HP with our appointment to the below-the-line business. Having to pitch on Asda was tough, but a strong new-business pipeline including assignments such as Airbus, promises good things for 2007."

Type of agency: Advertising
Company ownership: WPP subsidiary
Key personnel: James Murphy chief executive
Mark Roalfe chairman and executive creative director
Alison Hoad vice chairman
Ben Priest creative director
David Golding planning director
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006: £222m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £215m
Total accounts year end: 39
Accounts won: 8 (Bacardi: biggest)
Accounts lost: 1 (Royal Navy)
Number of staff: 200 (+12%)

Despite just missing out on picking up Campaign's Agency of the Year accolade, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R can look back on 2006 with much pride.

The agency's new-business record was one of the best in town, with wins totalling more than £75 million, including the BBC, Bacardi, BT Business, Hilton Hotels and Hertz. Its only loss was the £4 million Royal Navy business, which went to WCRS.

However, in 2006, despite picking up a number of creative awards (including gold at the Campaign Poster Awards for its Virgin Atlantic work), the agency proved that the strongest string to its bow is its effectiveness.

Not only did it win a raft of effectiveness awards for Virgin Trains, the Home Office and Danone, but its Marks & Spencer work also picked up the much-coveted Grand Prix at the IPA Effectiveness Awards. The high-profile role of advertising in the retailer's spectacular recovery also earned RKCR/Y&R plenty of kudos and attention from the wider world.

While all the other network agencies based in London turned in comparatively neutral performances, RKCR/Y&R stormed ahead.

By holding on to all of its major clients, filling the books with new ones, producing good creative work, showing the client community exactly what an effective campaign should be and being the only really strong network agency of 2006, RKCR/Y&R has cemented its place in London's top tier. Full of confidence, there is no reason why it shouldn't do it again this year.

Score last year: 7

Score this year: 8

How RKCR/Y&R rates itself: 8

"2006 was the year we helped Budweiser win the World Cup; won the IPA Effectiveness Grand Prix for M&S; bagged five silvers at the Campaign Poster Awards; won £75 million of new business, including the BBC, Bacardi, BT, Volvic, Hilton, Callaway Golf andVirgin Media; added serious creative muscle in the form of Steve Jones and Martin Loraine from DDB, and Steve Williams and Adrian Lim from Lowe; and somehow managed to have lots of fun along the way."

South Eastern Trains
Type of agency: Integrated
Company ownership: Private company
Key personnel: Jonathan Stead chief executive
John Townshend creative partner
Alison Meredith strategy partner
Sue Payne chief operating officer
Nielsen Media Research billings 2006:: £41m
Nielsen Media Research Billings 2005: £31m
Total accounts year end: 17
Accounts won: 6 (biggest: Virgin Media)
Accounts lost: 0
Number of staff: 108 (+14%)

Rapier proved irrepressible in 2006, storming the new-business table and taking the title of Direct Agency of the Year for the second time in a row - the first time ever an agency has won the accolade twice.

Rapier kicked off 2006 winning the substantial £7 million Digital UK account in a shoot-out against Proximity London. It went on to secure the online business for Smart, to add to the DM account it already handled. It also got down to the final two in the high-profile Abbey credit-cards pitch, although it was pipped to the post by Archibald Ingall Stretton. However, this blow was softened when Rapier trounced DraftFCB, Claydon Heeley and the incumbent Tequila\London to the £14.5 million Pru Health business. It was then awarded the £4 million direct marketing task for the Co-operative Society without a pitch.

Rapier was also awarded equal status on the (former ntl:Telewest) Virgin Media roster with Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, taking the lion's share of the 2007 launch task, and bringing its new-business billings to more than £45 million. The agency grew by 22 staff, including the appointment of John Hatfield as the head of digital from EHS Brann, and the hot creative team of Sarah Richards and Ross Newton from Partners Andrews Aldridge.

The agency's work remained strong, with the continuation of its integrated brand campaign for Telewest, which won a Campaign Direct silver for its "error letter". It developed a new response advertising campaign for the AA and extended its popular "masks" activity for South Eastern Trains. This was a year in which the agency topped the class on all fronts.

Score last year: 9

Score this year: 9

How Rapier rates itself: 9

"An excellent year. Our hard graft has paid off. Our ten-year investment in building an unparalleled capability in brand, business and response skills has resulted in clients voting for our integrated capability with sizeable budgets. Our wins included the £15 million integrated brief from Pru Health and £20 million from Virgin Media. The Virgin win is a fantastic endorsement of our ability to create ideas that build businesses and creative that is best in class, whatever the media."

Type of agency: Integrated relationship marketing
Company ownership: WPP subsidiary
Key personnel: Linda Jackson chief executive EMEA
Graham Bentham client services director
Guy Bradbury executive creative director
Lyndon Hale executive creative director
Magnus Wood strategy and planning director
Nielsen Media Research billing 2006: £10m
Nielsen Media Research billings 2005: £2m
Total accounts at year end: 28
Accounts won: 6 (biggest: Mazda)
Accounts lost: 3 (biggest: B&Q)
Number of staff: Undisclosed

Until this year, RMG Connect never had a school report because it has been regarded as JWT's below-the-line agency. However, in 2006, two major events had a dramatic impact on its profile.

First was the merger with the fledgling WPP subsidiary Sharpen Troughton Owens Response, on which WPP pulled the plug following a disappointing financial performance.The agency, whose clients included Sky and Dollond & Aitchison, will have provided a much-needed shot in the arm to RMG's domestic profile, despite being less than a year old. Previously, RMG's most significant client was B&Q - which it shares with JWT - and its domestic new-business record was all but non-existent.

But the fallout from the merger was quite traumatic, leading to the second development - a major management shake-up. First of all, Martin Troughton was overlooked for the chief executive role, a decision followed by his departure from the industry. The top job went instead to the RMG chief, Jonathan Harman, but he subsequently departed for Carlson. On the creative side, RMG already had a creative director in Guy Bradbury and a European creative director, Trefor Thomas, so there was little room for STO's Gary Sharpen, who also left.

Then, as if there hadn't been enough upheaval, the European chief executive, Nelly Anderson, moved to Ogilvy and was replaced by Ogilvy's Linda Jackson, whose first task was to find a replacement for Harman.

All these changes, coupled with the task of merging two contrasting cultures - STO positioned itself as the Bartle Bogle Hegarty of DM - is going to prove a challenge for the new chief executive.

Score last year: n/a

Score this year: 4

How RMG Connect rates itself: 6

"In 2006, we continued to build relationships and grow business with our key international clients: Shell, Vodafone and HSBC. Growth in digital contributed to this success, and one of the high points of the year was Lyndon Hale joining as digital ECD. Business development focused on growing current client business, but our local client portfolio was expanded through the merger with STO. Overall, 2006 was a year of consolidation, focus and delivery of high-performing creative."


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