Top 300 Agencies: School Reports. (2 of 6)


Cheethambell JWT's strong finish to 2004 was a marked contrast to a downbeat start when two significant pieces of business chose to head south from Manchester to London.

The lingering demise of the £11 million Phones 4U account, culminating in a switch to WCRS, surprised nobody. More of a shock was the decision of the Tussauds leisure group, owners of Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and Chessington World of Adventures, to put its £3.5 million account up for grabs.

Nevertheless, the agency still managed to end the year with a flourish, with 12 new clients and a more clearly defined role to play as a creative but fast-turnaround alternative within the JWT group.

The final haul included the Government's Health and Safety Executive, which is committed to spending £10 million over the next three years, Novo Nordisk, the Danish healthcare company which specialises in diabetes treatments, and the Principality building society. At the same time, the agency managed to partially plug the retail gap left by Phones 4U by winning the Blockbuster-owned computer games chain Gamestation, which aims to become a more potent high-street competitor to Game and HMV.

The agency's immediate priority is to ensure it remains bigger than its local rivals McCann Erickson Manchester and BDH\TBWA. "It's important we remain a big thorn in their side," David Bell, the chief executive, says. BDH now trails Cheethambell by a mere £1.5 million in billings, however.

At the same time, it is looking to consolidate its role as JWT's European centre of excellence for healthcare on the back of clients such as Reckitt Benckiser, for which it recently created the launch commercials for Gaviscon Cool antacid (who could forget the policewoman who starts directing traffic to the sound of What a Feeling?) and Boehringer Ingelheim.

Direct marketing is also beginning to figure more prominently in the agency's priorities in the wake of the capture of Hammonds, the upmarket fitted-bedroom manufacturer and retailer.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership WPP subsidiary

Key personnel David Bell chief executive

Paul Watson managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £56m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £47m

Total accounts year end 48

Accounts gained 14

Accounts lost 3

Number of staff 95

Score last year 6


In 2004, Claydon Heeley Jones Mason, Campaign's Direct Agency of the Year, proved that the solid performance the agency achieved in 2003 was no flash in the pan.

Having shaken off its inconsistent creative, new-business and client-retention records, the agency began 2004 with a sound business strategy. It set itself bullish targets that it believed would consolidate its position among London's top agencies.

It delivered on this promise. The agency trounced its rivals in terms of new business - both from pitches and from speculative meetings. Its haul included three major accounts: Dunlop, Mercedes-Benz and Egg - each worth more than £10 million.

Its only loss, the £2 million Virgin Holidays account, was a drop in the ocean compared with the £40 million-plus in new-business billings it clocked up.

In a year where there were some juicy accounts up for grabs but strong competition for all of them, Claydon Heeley proved to be the one agency that clients wanted to see. Its creative product, which has been gradually overhauled by its joint executive creative directors, Peter Harle and David Woods, improved further. The agency continued to produce edgy, yet beautifully executed pieces for clients including The Guardian, PlayStation and Mercedes.

Its work for The Guardian scooped awards for creativity, winning silver at the Campaign Direct Awards, and for performance, with a silver gong at the IPA Effectiveness Awards.

It won incremental business from existing clients. The £2 million advertising account for Goodyear, the relaunch of Impulse for Unilever, and Dunlop Motorcycles add up to a good barometer of how well its work performs.

Claydon Heeley achieved all of this without assistance from any advertising group, preferring instead to build its own group of agencies including Agency Republic, with which it pitched for Egg, and the sales promotion specialist Alcone.

With such an outstanding performance in 2004, topping it in 2005 could prove a tall order.

Type of agency Direct marketing

Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary

Key personnel Jon Claydon chairman

Nigel Jones chief executive

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £8m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £9m

Total accounts year end 34

Accounts gained 10

Accounts lost 1

Number of staff 127

Score last year 6


Having grown at a phenomenal rate since its launch three years ago, Clemmow Hornby Inge would have been forgiven for having a quiet and steady 2004.

However, the managing partner, Johnny Hornby, is not one to twiddle his thumbs when there are potential clients about. Over the past 12 months, CHI's new-business drive has been as ferocious as ever, with the agency pulling in £71.5 million-worth of new billings, topping Campaign's new-business league.

Wins such as The National Magazine Company, Heart 106.2 FM and First Active kept the scoreboard ticking over. However, it was the capture of the £34 million Direct Line account - after an extremely protracted pitch process - which turned 2004 from a good year into a great one.

CHI managed to keep most of its existing clients happy, with the one exception being Butcher's Pet Care, which moved its creative account after two years with the agency. 2004 also saw the official, and perhaps inevitable, loss of the Safeway account. However, CHI quickly bounced back by winning a place on the John Lewis roster.

The agency installed a second tier of management, rewarding the efforts of Sarah Gold and Neil Goodlad by making them joint managing directors and promoting Ben Slater to the post of new-business director.

Simon Clemmow's planning department and Charles Inge's creative team continued to work well in combination, seeking to produce effective, integrated brand work that will stand CHI clients in good stead for years. While this approach is to be applauded, creativity was sometimes sacrificed in 2004, as uninspiring work for the likes of British Gas and Mint testifies.

Meanwhile, CHI continued to bolster its integrated offering, establishing a joint venture with the PR company Freud Communications and setting up a direct marketing operation with the industry heavyweight Simon Hall and his former creative director Warren Moore. CHI's "Inside" model, first established in 2003 with Naked Inside, is now being replicated throughout the industry and its success proves that the agency has a lot more to offer advertising than a good new-business record.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel Johnny Hornby managing partner

Simon Clemmow planning partner

Charles Inge creative partner

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £88m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £50m

Total accounts year end 27

Accounts gained 12

Accounts lost 2

Number of staff 90

Score last year 8


After outperforming all of its rivals in 2003, Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel had a relatively quiet 2004.

The agency still boasts one of the industry's most impressive client lists, comprising big brands such as NatWest, Orange, Land Rover, Boots, Gordon's Gin and SCA Hygiene, which between them represent almost every sector. With so many potential conflicts, the agency, therefore, has limited avenues for business growth.

Nevertheless, opportunities did come knocking, but Craik Jones missed out on chances to win both the Powergen and Egg accounts. The agency did, however, win the £2 million Parcelforce account in April. Things were then quiet until the end of the year when it pulled in the Carte D'Or business from Unilever and the National Trust account.

Meanwhile, the agency made sure it kept its existing clients happy. Its only losses in 2004 came when the online share dealer Com Direct departed and a project for Marks & Spencer's flowers and plants business was completed.

Just like its fellow Omnicom agency Claydon Heeley Jones Mason, Craik Jones continues to benefit from a stable management team, with its founders David Watson and Robin Mitchell and long-serving managing director Fiona Scott continuing to run a steady ship.

In recent years, the agency's creative output has been second only to that of Partners Andrews Aldridge and Harrison Troughton Wunderman in terms of consistency. This year, it produced the expected selection of clever mailpacks while netting decent hauls at awards ceremonies.

Craik Jones will look back on 2004 and reflect that it was a solid, if unspectacular year. But, when an agency has performed this well for this long, it is able to come through a quiet 12 months looking no less impressive a proposition.

Type of agency Direct marketing

Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary

Key personnel David Watson chief executive

Fiona Scott managing director

Nielsen Media

Research billings 2004 £8m

Nielsen Media

Research billings 2003 £5m

Total accounts year end 30

Accounts gained 5

Accounts lost 2

Number of staff 100

Score last year 9

DARE - 9

Another enviable year for Dare, following on from 2003's big account wins for Barclays and Sony Ericsson and the award-winning Lynx Pulse work.

In 2004, the agency scooped one of the biggest online prizes of the year, winning the £5 million Wanadoo creative account in a pitch against Profero, Agency Republic and TBWA\GGT. The win helped Dare pip glue London to the post and reclaim its title of Campaign's Digital Agency of the Year.

Wanadoo joined Woolworths, Tetley, Thomson Local and Diageo as new clients, while the agency also cemented its position on the COI Communications roster by winning pitches for the Financial Services Authority and Energy Savings Trust accounts.

New-business wins and growth in existing accounts led to some impressive figures across the year, with Dare posting a 213 per cent increase in turnover, up to £3.6 million; growth of 216 per cent in income to £3.2 million and a 337 per cent increase in net profit, to more than £700,000.

Creatively, campaigns for Lynx Touch, Sony Ericsson and Thomson all impressed this year, with good use of interactive streaming video in the Sony Ericsson Quickshare work.

The appointment of the Agency Republic creative director, James Cooper, to join the Dare creative partner Flo Heiss was a recruitment coup in a market where good creative directors with digital experience are a rare commodity.

Dare is now the only UK digital agency to have a top-level creative team comprising both an art director and copywriter.

Without the Wanadoo win, though, things would have been a bit quiet on the new-business front, and the agency now needs to focus on working closely with above-the-line and direct marketing partners to bring in more of the kind of blue-chip accounts that are still slim pickings in the digital world.

Type of agency Digital advertising

Company ownership 25% owned by Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Key personnel Mark Collier managing director

Declared income £3.2m

Accounts gained 8

Accounts lost 0

Creative 60%

Media planning and buying 0%

Web design/build 40%

Biggest-spending clients Barclays, Sony Ericsson, Travelocity

Number of staff 46

Score last year 9


The hiring of Paul Hammersley as DDB London's chairman and chief executive in April last year ushered in a new era for the agency. DDB struggled out of the grip of inertia in 2004, positioning itself well for a strong year of growth in 2005.

Winning the £9 million Weetabix account in December, DDB's most significant win of 2004, was the slump-breaker the agency had long been waiting for.

But it followed a frustrating new-business year and, despite appearing on many big pitchlists, it converted few - Anadin and the Teacher Training Agency were the highlights.

It could be argued, though, that new business was not DDB's primary focus.

The agency has been busy reasserting its planning credentials,while looking to extend its creative offering by moving into new strategic areas. It has established alliances with the direct marketing agency WWAV Rapp Collins and with Manning Gottlieb OMD's affiliate strategy agency, Goodstuff.

The planning supremo David Hackworthy was drafted in from New York as the chief strategic officer to oversee these developments.

Inevitably, Hammersley's arrival has not come without incident. The joint executive creative director Ewan Paterson walked out in July, leaving Jeremy Craigen in sole charge of the department. Mark Reddy, the agency's acclaimed head of art, also left but was swiftly replaced internally by Justin Tindall.

Two of the agency's oldest and esteemed faces departed in 2004. Ross Barr, the joint chief executive, and Chris Powell, the chairman, made way for the new blood, relinquishing control after clocking up more than 30 years each at the agency. Their exit was a necessary evil, as DDB desperately needed to modernise and stop harping on about the "good old days".

DDB's creative remained strong, although TV was the weakest area. As well as winning the Cannes press Grand Prix with its Volkswagen Polo "cops" execution, DDB held on to its IPA Effectiveness Agency of the Year title, sharing the plaudit with Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R.

Having rightly concentrated on the groundwork, DDB looks in good shape for 2005.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Omnicom subsidiary

Key personnel Paul Hammersley chairman and

chief executive

Jorian Murray managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £209m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £176m

Total accounts year end 36

Accounts gained 5

Accounts lost 1

Number of staff 350

Score last year 5


Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners continues to go from strength to strength.

In only its fifth year, the agency is firmly established, slickly run and renowned for its ability to rake in new business.

Present on most of 2004's big pitchlists, DLKW has picked up no fewer than ten accounts. The £10 million WH Smith business was a coup and winning ExxonMobil in the UK, Germany and the US gave the agency further opportunity to show it can compete on the international stage.

Existing clients were not shy to hand the agency more business either - Premier Foods awarded the agency its Ambrosia, Hartleys and Branston Pickle accounts. It also finally got its hands on the Intelligent Finance business, part of HBOS, and the trickle of Vauxhall business continued, with DLKW picking up the dealership account and a Vectra brief.

Just as in the previous year, the agency lost nothing. It retained the £11 million Burger King business when it went up for pitch in July, fending off some of London's top agencies.

DLKW's impressive senior management team runs a steady ship and put a sensible succession plan in place last year. Mark Lund stepped into the role of group chief executive to pave the way for newer talent, handing the running of the agency to its new joint managing directors, Tom Knox and Alex Kuropatwa.

Over at DLKW Dialogue, the agency's below-the-line and digital arm, things were less rosy. Dialogue's chief executive, Steve Barton, left after fewer than six months in the job and was swiftly replaced by Paul Biggins, the ousted chief executive of Tequila\ London. The agency failed to register any significant wins.

Creative work continues to be DLKW's Achilles' heel. Its new work for Burger King and WH Smith has so far failed to provide real cut-through.

As usual, raising the creative bar is clearly the top priority this year.

Nevertheless, the agency's emphasis on client services and its strong planning credentials have made it one of adland's hottest properties.

The millions its founders received for their recent sale to Creston are richly deserved.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel Greg Delaney chairman

Mark Lund group chief executive

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £117m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £63m

Total accounts year end 9

Accounts gained 10

Accounts lost 1

Number of staff 154

Score last year 8

DFGW - 4

Last year proved to be another 12 months of uncertainty for DFGW. The managing partner, Gary Duckworth, had left in 2003 and the exodus of fellow founders continued in 2004. The three remaining founders, Michael Finn, Paul Grubb and Dave Waters, reduced their stake in the agency. Through a management buy-in, the joint managing directors, Tom Vick and Hugh Cameron, picked up the reins. Grubb quit the agency in the summer.

DFGW faced major client fall-out throughout the year, beginning with Learndirect leaving the agency in June. Nutricia also moved its business because of a global centralisation, while another major DFGW client, Daewoo, became shaky after it chose to hand its important pan-European Chevrolet rebranding task to FCB London. The agency fell from 38th to 48th in the billings rankings over 2004.

On the new-business front, the agency picked up a number of small accounts, including the launch of Dennis Publishing's Test Drive magazine, the Irish dairy brand Kerry Gold and a place on the Inland Revenue roster. However, it failed to add another heavyweight client to its list, remaining over-reliant on the BBC.

The BBC provided the agency's primary creative output, with the agency producing strong work to promote BBC Sport's Euro 2004 and Olympics coverage.

Disappointingly, it missed out on the creatively challenging BBC branding campaign, which went to Fallon.

The agency has begun the process of expanding its offering with the launch of a research venue, Home Sweet Home. But more needs to be done to diversify, something the agency is considering in 2005.

With a younger management team now in place, DFGW needs to get some new energy behind it and to revamp and revitalise its offering. It desperately needs to roll up its sleeves and win another big client.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel Michael Finn founder

Dave Waters founder

Tom Vick joint managing director

Hugh Cameron joint managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £20m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £28m

Total accounts year end 10

Accounts gained 3

Accounts lost 2

Number of staff 35

Score last year 4


Despite two significant client reviews, Draft London emerged from 2004 as an agency in remarkably good health.The year got off to a rocky start when its flagship car client, Saab, was put up for pitch. The procurement-driven decision, which saw the marque's DM account combined with that of its sibling, Vauxhall, resulted in a four-way fight between Draft, TBWA\GGT (the Vauxhall UK incumbent), MRM Partners, which handles the brand in Europe, and DLKW Dialogue.

Winning the pitch was an early triumph for Draft, paving the way for a strong new-business performance. The agency notched up more than £20 million in billings from wins including the Post Office, the Teacher Training Agency and Bombay Sapphire.

The agency's only loss was Egg. Although substantial (it was valued at £30 million when it moved), it is worth mentioning that this was Draft's first account departure since the merger with Lowe Live in 2002. Egg then split its DM spend equally between direct and digital, a move that not only illustrates the growing importance of digital marketing in DM, but also explains Draft's renewed focus on its interactive arm, Draft Digital.

In November, Stephen Beasley was brought in from TBWA\GGT to head the unit and lead its growth. That Draft has weathered the merger of Draft and Lowe Live and built a digital division of ten staff while losing only one client, is testament to the leadership of its managing director, Sez Maxted. Despite maintaining a low profile, Maxted has kept the agency steady during a potentially difficult two years, orchestrating its growth at a time when other London-based Interpublic Group agencies are floundering.

The agency's creative output has remained resilient to any upheaval, winning a gold at Cannes, ironically for Egg. However, Draft will need to increase the profile of its work if it is to capitalise on the solid business it has admirably constructed.

Type of agency Direct marketing

Company ownership Interpublic subsidiary

Key personnel Sez Maxted managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £6m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £20m

Total accounts year end 17

Accounts gained 5

Accounts lost 1

Number of staff 85

Score last year 6


After two disappointing post-merger years, EHS Brann began to show signs of finding its feet in 2004. The year got off to a strong start.

Not only did EHS find itself back in its rightful place on pitchlists for big pieces of business such as Star Alliance and Johnnie Walker, it started to win some.

Its first triumph was consolidating the Londonlines business, bringing its total billings from the train company to £8 million. Then in June it replaced Barnardo's, which moved into Partners Andrews Aldridge without a pitch, with Oxfam, one of the first big pitches of the year.

A new EHS Brann, with a new young management team led by the managing director, Matt Atkinson, and an energised chairman, Terry Hunt, had emerged.

It wasn't all plain sailing, however, as the agency continued streamlining the business to maintain its position against its leaner competitors.

The management of its Cirencester office was axed, claiming the jobs of several long-serving senior managers. The office now reports to London.

Creatively, 2004 was not an outstanding year. However, a couple of bronzes at the DMA awards for the Scottish Courage-owned Beck's and Peugeot was a promising start for the executive creative directors, Trevor Chambers and Lu Dixon, who have only been in their jobs for just over a year.

Despite the ongoing reorganisation, the agency managed to pick up Heinz baby food, the Linda McCartney range and First Plus Financial from Barclays.

Atkinson, said to have been instrumental in keeping hold of the utilities client, British Gas, was rewarded in October with a promotion to chief executive across London, Leeds and Cirencester.

The year ended with a statutory review of one of its three car clients, Mini. However, this headache will have been assuaged by the news that EHS won the £10 million Churchill Insurance DM account in December.

Type of agency Direct marketing

Company ownership Havas subsidiary

Key personnel Terry Hunt chairman

Matt Atkinson managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £18m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £25m

Total accounts year end 45

Accounts gained 16

Accounts lost 1

Number of staff 209

Score last year 3


Life after a merger is always fraught with change and upheaval, but nothing could have prepared staff at Euro RSCG London for the bumpy ride that followed its 2003 merger with Partners BDDH. The agency began 2004 fairly quietly, having lost its marketing director, Neil Christie, to Wieden & Kennedy.

In March, the agency's quiet existence was shattered when the controversial Ben Langdon was parachuted in by the Euro RSCG Worldwide chairman and chief executive, Jim Heekin. The pair had previously worked together at McCann Erickson.

Langdon's brief was to take the agency back into growth after two years of decline. And as with many a new chief with a tough task ahead, his first move was to build a himself a team to help deliver his frighteningly ambitious targets of raising revenues by 50 per cent in the space of three years.

This has seen the existing management axed, save for the managing director, Simon Toaldo, and the chairman, Chris Pinnington.

Among Langdon's profit-boosting innovations was his controversial decision to axe his traffic department, handing responsibility to junior account handlers.

By the end of the year, the new-look Euro RSCG was a regular contender on a number of hotly contested pitches, such as the Irish Tourist Board, Co-operative Group, Homebase, WH Smith, Tilda Rice and Bhs. However, its conversion rate was low, winning small accounts including Aunt Bessie's frozen foods, Matalan, Transport for London and Uniqlo, while retaining the Department of Health's flu immunisation brief. These are not enough to replace the income lost by the departures of Intel, Christian Aid and Clerical Medical.

Creatively, the agency's performance was solid rather than impressive.

Its "artery" campaign for the British Heart Foundation was the highlight, and the year closed with an entertaining Citroen commercial, featuring a dancing robot. At the end of the year, Langdon hired Gerry Moira. The veteran creative will play well with existing and potential clients.

The new Euro RSCG has everything to prove in 2005.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Havas subsidiary

Key personnel Ben Langdon chairman and chief executive

Gerry Moira executive creative director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £229m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £238m

Total accounts year end 43

Accounts gained 5

Accounts lost 3

Number of staff 205

Score last year N/A


There's a fine line between offering clients the benefit of your years of experience in media and disappearing into out-of-touch old fart territory. It's a line that Experience, launched in February 2004, has kept on the right side of so far, thanks to its founding team: Greg Turzynski, a former managing director at ZenithOptimedia, James Whitmore, a former managing director of Mediaedge:cia, and David Reid, previously a planner at OMD UK.

The agency's name alludes to its founders' decades of experience, which is being rolled into a communications planning offering. Experience's aim is to take a client's business objectives, understand its customers and provide communications advice that is effective and accountable.

Experience had a good start - working with Mustoes on the tricky task of communicating Imperial Tobacco's involvement with the Embassy World Snooker Championships. It also worked with JCDecaux to develop a strategy for the launch of Tesco TV.

It has won projects from Milk Link for its various milk products and worked on developing consumer insights for Nikon to create better targeted promotions.

Experience's flagship account was captured in June when it began working with The Independent on trying to deliver increases in commercial revenue to match the newspaper's circulation success.

The agency did lose pitches, including one for TK Maxx (won by Naked) but had a quietly successful first year. It claims to have finished ahead of budget, with a healthy profit margin.

More account wins is an obvious challenge for 2005, but it will also be interesting to see who the agency recruits and whether it can continue to fill its ranks with experienced, credible planners.

Type of agency Communications planning

Company ownership Private company

Key personnel Greg Turzynski founder

James Whitmore founder

David Reid founder

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 -

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 -

Total accounts year end 9

Accounts gained 9

Accounts lost 0

Number of staff 3

Score last year N/A


Unusually for an agency that always seemed to be the master of its own fortunes, 2004 was something of a rollercoaster ride for Fallon.

The future of two of its main accounts, Sony and BT, was a matter of some uncertainty as a result of key client management changes. While Sony remained intact, BT reversed its decision to hand Fallon its BT Yahoo! and broadband assignments, choosing to reallocate the business, worth a combined £29 million, to Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

True, there were several domestic wins, notably the launch of Emap's Grazia title, along with Jacob's Creek and Tate, which the agency scooped ahead of AMV BBDO. The agency also picked up a significant extra assignment from the BBC, to manage the corporation's master brand, off the back of some strong campaigns for BBC 1Xtra and BBC 6 Music.

Tate was the first assignment for Fallon's communications planning arm, Happen at Fallon, a venture launched jointly with Naked Communications to develop ideas beyond traditional advertising.

Creatively, the agency was strong, as has come to be expected, thanks to efforts on Velvet and Ben & Jerry's, among others.

Though the full impact of the loss of Dave Masterman and Ed Edwards to Bartle Bogle Hegarty in August has yet to be felt, the arrival of the Argentinian art director Juan Cabral from Mother has added more firepower to the creative department.

Another force that will be missed is the founding partner Michael Wall, who was appointed in September to the newly created role of president, international - responsible for all of Fallon's non-US offices. However, Karina Wilsher and Nikki Crumpton were handed partner status, bolstering the UK management and locking in second-generation talent.

Fallon has an uncompromising creative positioning. Although this has clearly washed well with the likes of Velvet and Sony, it appears to turn off as many potential clients as it attracts.

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Publicis Groupe subsidiary

Key personnel Robert Senior managing partner

Richard Flintham managing partner

Andy McLeod managing partner

Laurence Green managing partner

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £45m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £28m

Total accounts year end 25

Accounts gained 10

Accounts lost 1

Number of staff 86

Score last year 7


The year in which FCB returned as a standalone name on the London adscene for the first time since 1998 was not an auspicious one for the agency bearing the famous moniker. Two big accounts, Weetabix and Waitrose, billing a total of £18 million, were lost and the agency's continuing lack of profile will doubtless concern the newly appointed global chief executive, Steve Blamer. He will know that FCB's European network can't flourish without a strongly performing UK operation.

No matter that Weetabix departed in the year the agency's tenure of the business was rewarded with an IPA Effectiveness award. Or that FCB's fate on Waitrose was virtually sealed by the resignations of Ken Hoggins and Chris O'Shea, the creatives synonymous with the supermarket's elegant work.

Both were heavy blows, even though some modest wins helped cushion the impact of their departure. Silverscreen, the DVD retailer, picked the agency to help fuel its growth, while Burton's Foods hired it to develop new creative strategies for Cadbury's Chocolate Fingers. Meanwhile, the agency secured a place on Unilever's roster with an appointment to handle the launch of the company's low-carb food range, Carb Options, into the UK.

The agency now looks for its salvation to a new concept called Sandpit.

Jonathan Rigby, FCB's managing director, believes Sandpit heralds the death of the conventional agency model.

The FCB office now provides a roof over an array of independent specialists, from a retail marketing company to a digital TV team, with the aim of bringing more creative firepower to bear on clients' problems.

Whether this will provide the agency with the distinctive offering it needs, remains to be seen. The FCB network has a history of trying to buy extra critical mass in the UK through quick-fix acquisitions and later ruing its folly. Will it have enough patience while Sandpit builds its castles?

Type of agency Advertising

Company ownership Interpublic subsidiary

Key personnel Jonathan Rigby managing director

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2004 £68m

Nielsen Media Research

billings 2003 £83m

Total accounts year end 14

Accounts gained 5

Accounts lost 8

Number of staff 60

Score last year 4