In describing Campaign's New-Media Agency of the Year as one that has more than doubled its client base, profits and staff size, while maintaining an exceptional level of creativity and integrity, the winner doesn't sound like a digital agency that has operated in a depressed 2002.
But this is just what the digital creative agency glue London has managed.
It has thrived in an environment where for many survival was the top priority.
After a year's hiatus in offering the award, Campaign has re-introduced the accolade in recognition that reports of the death of the digital sector have been somewhat exaggerated. Glue's achievements prove this and it is one of a number of agencies emerging as success stories as digital finds its place in the ad mix.
Glue is a pure digital creative agency and offers campaign strategy, art direction, copywriting, planning, research, design, animation, illustration and interactive programming, creating work for web, e-mail, interactive TV and wireless.
Glue's 2002 could be summed up as aggressive and prolific. It has been a new-business machine, landing on no fewer than 22 pitches last year and converting 15 of the 19 pitches that it has so far received a result on.
Perhaps the biggest sign of its coming of age last year was the agency's appointment in March to COI Communications' stringently monitored roster.
The appointment has seen campaigns for the Electoral Commission's "votes are power" push and the Inland Revenue's "tax credits" and "disabled tax credits" work.
Other major client wins include the Virgin Credit Card and the national gaming and bingo giant Rank Group.
Project work has been developed for E4 and Film Four, Marbles, Quorn, the charity Shelter, Sony PlayStation, Tetley and the brewer Scottish Courage, which owns brands including Foster's, Beck's, Kronenbourg and John Smith's.
Testament to the creative reputation glue has accrued is the rich-media work it does with Ford Europe for the UEFA Champions League to support its sponsorship programme. This is the second year glue has been used for its creative skills, despite the fact that the interactive agency of record is Wunderman.
Glue has built its team to more than 30 staff in line with the growth of clients and the amount of work produced in 2002.
It has lost two clients this year through company restructures and although they are losses, neither are a reflection on the ability or quality of the work the agency had created. The project-based client The Irish Tourist Board put all of its agency relationships on hold following a merger with the Northern Irish Tourist Board. Thomas Cook was lost after its acquisition by the German company C&N Touristic AG. The account moved without a pitch to TBWA/GGT Direct to align digital with the above-the-line account held by TBWA/London.
The agency's hiring strategy has been well thought out, with a keen eye on longevity and establishing the agency as a serious player. Ken New, the former vice-chairman of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, joined as the non-executive director to add weight to the agency's reputation and strategic direction.
James Sanderson arrived as the marketing director, bringing with him key business development expertise from roles at a range of agencies. It also brought in a fourth creative team comprised of Gavin Gordon Rogers and Gemma Butler from Karmarama.
Glue has also negotiated a key management transition; the founder and creative director, Mark Cridge, handed over the creative reins to Seb Royce, previously of Ogilvy & Mather.
Creative standards remained high in 2002 and glue's work has received wide-ranging recognition on the awards front. At the Campaign Media Awards, glue won Best Use of New Media for Consumers for "life is made of One2Ones", which was also shortlisted as Best Use of E-mail in Revolution's awards.
The "it's time to leave the country" campaign for Thomas Cook was a finalist for Best Rich-Media Campaign at the Cannes Cyber Lions and Revolution's Best Online Advertising of the Year.
Virgin Atlantic's "fly for free" campaign was shortlisted for Most Effective Communication at the British Interactive Media Association Awards and for Best Internet Ad Campaign at the Travel Advertising Awards. Its "business brains" work for Virgin Trains won Best Internet Ad Campaign at the same travel awards. "Election campaign" for Thomas Cook was shortlisted for Best Brand Building by an Online Business by Revolution.
Glue took the overall honours, but the achievements of Lateral and AKQA also deserve mention. Lateral won 13 new pieces of business last year, nine as the retained agency, with no business losses, from 20 pitches.
The agency picked up wins in the only two awards events it entered last year. Its work for Levi's US, "lost change", won Best Integrated Campaign at Revolution's awards, while work for the RSPCA won Best Charity Online at New Media Age's awards.
AKQA lost no clients last year. The agency was only on seven pitches, preferring to focus on expanding existing client relationships. However, its network of offices in London, Washington, San Francisco and Singapore, with a staff of 250, meant it was able to pitch for and win big clients, including Xbox Europe, Nike Asia-Pacific, Nikon UK and Nike Europe for its Bowerman range.
On the creative front, AKQA has produced a ground-breaking interactive DVD for Xbox, as well as solid creative for Carlsberg, the pan-European multilingual site for Nike Bowerman and ntl's interactive TV property in Sainsbury's home shopping service.