school reports

This is 'school report' week in Campaign magazine, when they print their annual assessment of agencies' performance. One can debate the scores at length, but I thought it would be interesting just to show how they've ranked UK agencies in comparison to each other. (Even though Campaign says that's not what it's for; it's interesting to do so.) Agencies are marked from 9 (outstanding) to 2 (a year to forget). I've omitted media agencies and direct agencies (or at least, agencies who have so defined themselves) just for simplicity's sake. Scores on the doors are…

9. AKQA, BMB, Elvis, Mother
8. BBH, Chemistry, CHI, Glue, Iris, Kitkatt Nohr, Lean Mean Fighting Machine, MCBD, Work Club
7. AMV, Adam & Eve, Albion, AIS, Cheetham Bell JWT, Dare, DLKW, Fallon, Grand Union, Grey, LBI, Leo Burnett, M&C Saatchi, The Union, WCRS
6. Agency Republic, Golley Slater, I-Level, JWT, Karmarama, Krow, Leith, McCann, Poke, Profero, RKCR, Saatchi & Saatchi, TBWA Manchester, VCCP, Wieden + Kennedy.
5. DDB, Dye Holloway Murray, Farm, Kindred, Leagas Delaney, Ogivly, Publicis, Rapier, RMG Connect
4. Euro RSCG, GT, Hurrell Moseley, TBWA London, Red Brick Road
3., Digitas, Draft FCB, Nitro
2. Lowe, St Luke's

Also interesting to look at ranking by declared income. Usually, the top 30 list is compiled based on billings – the amount of money spent on above the line advertising in the UK by the agencies' clients. This is an increasingly irrelevant measure that bears little relation to an agency's commercial health, as income is no longer tied to billings the way it was in the days of full service and commission-based remuneration. 

Not all agencies divulge their income, so the list below is bound to be misleading and incomplete, but here's a very different UK top 20 from one to which we're accustomed. UK top 20 agencies ranked by declared income (excluding those who declined to divulge a figure and again excluding media and direct):

Rank by income                            Rank by billing

1. I-level (£100.5m)                        N/A
2. BBH (£61m)                              4
3. Leo Burnett (£43m)                 13
4. AMV (£43.3m)                          1
5. Ogilvy (£41.7m)                       9
6. LBI  (£33.5m)                           N/A
7. Iris (£37m)                               N/A
8. AKQA (£32m)                           N/A
9. DLKW (£22.7m)                        10
10. CHI (£21.2m)                         16
11. VCCP (£20.5m)                       24
12.= Fallon (£18.5m)                   12
12.= W+K (£18.5)                         25
14. TBWA London (£18m)             19
15. WCRS (£17.7)                         8
16. Lowe (£17m)                         21
17. Golley Slater (£16.8m)           30
18. Mother (£15.2m)                    18
19. RMG Connect (£14.2)              61
20. Dare (£13m)                           N/A

This list doesn't include some major players like McCann or Euro, who haven't provided revenue figures, but the comparative ranking of the agencies above is presumably a reasonably accurate measure of their relative income. Very different to how they rank on the billings chart. (Except for Mother, which is number 18 in both.)
I'd never have guessed that I-Level would top this chart. They're apparently making £100m on a staff of 121. That's a revenue per head of £826,446. Can that really be right? I don't see how it can.

BrandDog Millionaire


Kev Chesters writes:

Whilst watching this
thoroughly depressing, supposed "feelgood" movie the analogy occurred
to me between the process of the show and behavior of a lot of
clients/agencies in terms of the creative process and decision making.
Most especially with the lifelines.

"Ask the Audience" –
it occurred to me that this is rather like abdicating responsibility
for decision making on the right creative solution to a few people
above a pub. This would certainly avoid having to take responsibility
or taking a risk in any way based upon your own expertise or experience.

"Phone a Friend" –
leads you into the tempting but very dangerous trap of looking at what
the most successful competitor is currently doing and attempt to copy

"50/50" – the
"multiple routes" option. Rather than focus upon one great idea and how
to make it greater then why not split attention between three creative
routes because then we will have an a, b or c to ask the audience
about. It will surely make the decision easier to have more choices,
won't it? Er, I'd argue no. and it might just possibly reduce your
chance of getting to something brilliant by 66%. Not good.

And it occurs to me
that, just like on the show, the simplest and most effective way to win
in this task is still to "know" the answer and go with what you know is
correct – based upon knowledge, experience and informed opinion without
having to abdicate the decision to a last resort "lifeline".

"Creative solution A, Chris, Final answer. I just know it"

hyperisland hits E1

Laura Quinn writes:

Over the weekend a group of account handlers and planners went on the first of five Wieden + Kennedy agency three-day ‘Master Classes’ in digital media and communication, brought to us by the lovely people at Hyper Island

We started the 3 days with a bit of team building – creating a page illustrating 3 moments in our life that have defined who we are. Jon Tapper’s page was a triangle with the word ‘ME’ in the middle. We certainly learned a lot about each other…


Next we all sat in a circle and admitted that some of us hadn’t used Twitter and weren’t sure we understood it. Alex chose to add that he thinks it’s a shame no one sends postcards anymore. We all agreed to resolve the Twitter issue before the weekend was up.

Then the proper stuff began…

Guest speaker Jonathan Briggs came in to give us some super-smart thinking on measuring effective e-commerce, including what will forever be known as ‘That Amazing Chart’.

Mark Comerford, self-proclaimed “journalist educator and generally strange guy” started a (surprisingly fierce) debate on the social effects, behaviours, and outcomes of the rise of digital media. All delivered with the strongest Dublin accent in Sweden and a staggering array of expletives.

Mickaehl Ahlström  presented his thinking on media channel strategy. Like a quiet, Swedish, digital, version of Richard Branson. In a good way.

And Laura Jordan-Bambach from LBI talked through her personal opinion on online comms. Our very own Welcome to Optimism blog was in mentioned, we’ve never been so proud….
(Yeah, right.)


In between all the discussions, debates, reviews and reflections, we did manage to squeeze in a posh dinner.


…and took on some briefs of our own to get our online creative juices flowing. Being the future-facing types that we are, we even went post-digital with the presentation style, opting for two big bits of paper, some felt tip pens and a large portion of sandwiches.


By Sunday afternoon our eyes and minds had been thoroughly opened. No big answers, no definitive decisions on what happens next, and no magic wand. But a huge new space opened up in our heads to start thinking digital in a totally new way.

And from one of our lot who said on Friday morning that tweeting what you ate for lunch was boring and pointless, came this tweet on Sunday night: “Cauliflower cheese is ace”.

Vive la digital revolution!

making the nation passionate about milk

Our new Cravendale milk campaign, created by Sophie Lewis, Nicholla Longley, Sam Heath and Frank Ginger in conjunction with Belgian stop motion animators Pic Pic, breaks today.  The new executions feature our old friends, the animated cow, cyclist and pirate that were introduced in 2007.  The campaign highlights Cravendale’s brand positioning to make the nation passionate about milk, whilst emphasising the key consumer benefits of Cravendale including the brand’s USP – purity.

Breaking spot ‘Bad Bull’ highlights Cravendale’s purification process, while ‘Slurp’ shows how milk can be enjoyed throughout your life, no matter what age you are. The final ad which will break later in the Spring, ‘Toe Tapping’, demonstrates that milk is as good hot as it is cold.

The TV is supported by a print campaign which highlights Cravendale’s purity benefit and longer life.

Sam Heath, creative director at W&K said: “People don’t really think when buying milk.  They just reach for the blue, green or red top. With these spots we wanted to challenge this, to engage people a little more and get them to consider Cravendale.”

CRA01M06065_09_Press_Blue_Tash_297x210_v4 CRA01M06065_09_Press_Green_Cow_297x210_v6

citizen journalism strikes back!


Sometimes the trade press features us… and sometimes we feature them. This is Branwell Johnson of Marketing Week – a gentleman and a scholar (of Hawkwind).
After a beer with Branwell, it was over to The Golden Heart for the leaving drinks of top interactive producer, Jessica Manchester, who is leaving us and London weather behind for the warmer climes of LA.

Dave Lee plants a smacker on Jess.

Bye, Jess and thanks for all your hard work.