TOP PERFORMERS OF 1998: MEDIA AGENCY OF THE YEAR - NEW PHD/In 1998, New PHD bounced back. It fulfilled its strategic promise, won BT’s pounds 100m account, launched two divisions and claimed the Tube for Yellow Pages

Each year it becomes harder for media agencies to stand out from the crowd. More clients are centralising their accounts, forcing agencies to scrabble around to keep hold of a shrinking client market.

Each year it becomes harder for media agencies to stand out from

the crowd. More clients are centralising their accounts, forcing

agencies to scrabble around to keep hold of a shrinking client


One agency, however, appears to have come of age and fulfilled its

promise of being a strategically led media shop, putting in a sterling

performance in 1998. This was best illustrated when BT, the UK’s largest

advertiser, decided to award its pounds 100 million-plus media strategy

account to New PHD last April. At the time, David Pattison, New PHD’s

chief executive, said: ’It shows how it’s possible for a company like us

to be both strategic and big.’

In 1997, the agency faltered after its merger with the Abbott Mead

Vickers BBDO media department, and its ’strategic’ edge was then blunted

by the loss of First Direct’s planning to the rival shop, Michaelides &


But in 1998, the agency bounced back, scooped a number of major accounts

and unleashed new branded services into the media world.

Criticised in the past for not being aggressive enough on the

new-business front, New PHD substantially improved its record once its

marketing director, Mike Anderson, was fully on board.

The agency won ONdigital’s pounds 15 million business - and held on to

it - even when AMV, its sister creative agency, lost the account in the

late summer. In fact, New PHD lost just one piece of business last year,

the RAC to BBJ, while chalking up more than pounds 35.7 million in

account wins, including Pizza Hut, Duracell and Prudential Direct.

Aware that it could not sit on its laurels, New PHD introduced two

independent divisions, Apollo and Space Station. Apollo was created to

offer strategic planning services alongside database marketing and Space

Station was set up as the specialist regional press division.

New PHD shone at Campaign’s Media Awards, scooping the best media

campaign of the year and best use of outdoor with its Yellow Pages work,

which appeared on liveried Tube trains, escalator arches, platforms and

tickets, as well as taxis and posters. The agency also came up with the

’choose your own Bond movie’ initiative on ITV for the launch of

ONdigital, and helped Egg produce an outstanding launch campaign.

New PHD’s other agency brands have also performed well. Its

second-string operation, Rocket, has pulled in a number of new clients,

including 49s and Emap Radio, while MSc, New PHD’s media joint venture

with Partners BDDH, clinched Bradford & Bingley’s pounds 15 million


All in all, New PHD returned to form in 1998, proved its strategic worth

and showed that it was capable of developing its products and services

in a rapidly changing media environment.

Of the other contenders, Initiative Media had a lot to prove in 1998 -

and did so with style. The surprise departure of the chief executive,

Phil Georgiadis, at the end of 1997 - just as the agency began bedding

down its pounds 90 million Peugeot-Citroen media account - raised a

number of questions about the underlying strength of the agency he left


But over the course of 1998, Initiative won a place on a number of

prestigious pitch-lists, such as BT, and proved itself a worthy

contender for big business. Its new-business triumphs included the

pounds 9 million LVMH business, Calvin Klein’s centralised account and

the pounds 18 million Johnson & Johnson media business taken away from

BMP Optimum.

The agency ended the year having successfully shaken off its image as

the Unilever buying shop, sharpened its press buying skills, accumulated

more than pounds 30 million of new business and positioned itself as a

serious rival at the top end of the media market.

Another close runner-up was BMP Optimum, which ended its first full year

of independence with a handsome portfolio of new-business wins,

including the pounds 10 million National Savings account, pounds 13

million of Easy Play business, the pounds 20 million Camelot media

buying task and pounds 9 million of Compaq from an international

realignment. A couple of losses - Thomson Holidays, Do It All and, in

another international network shift, that pounds 18 million of Johnson &

Johnson business - tempered what has been a strong track record in

business retention.

Other agencies deserving honorable mentions. Carat scooped the pounds 60

million Diageo business and the pounds 10 million SCA account in an

otherwise relatively quiet new-business year but continued to be one of

the most formidable players in the market. Its sister agency, BBJ Media

Services, can look back on a terrific string of wins in 1998, including

Cable & Wireless and the RAC, while Leo Burnett’s media department, with

help from MediaVest, snaffled the biggest win of the year: pounds 170

million of Procter & Gamble business.

Zenith Media tempted Simon Marquis back to the media mire and turned in

a respectable performance - clocking up pounds 50 million in new


Walker Media’s first year in business began on a high as it took the

pounds 107 million Dixons Group business, followed by the pounds 10

million Channel 5 account, although the agency ended the year with

something still to prove in the competitive arena.

Another start-up - the Allmond Partnership - was responsible for one of

the boldest client moves of the year when it walked off with the pounds

110 million BT TV account, proving once again that its parent, Manning

Gottlieb Media, is still one of the shrewdest outfits around.

Previous two winners: Michaelides & Bednash (1997); TMD Carat (1996).

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus