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Pound for pound, the most award-winning agency in the world over the past few years, Unity impressed once again when this year’s EMEA region SABRE nominations were announced. Its nine finalists (more than many of the leading multinationals) ranged from its corporate social responsibility initiatives on behalf of flagship client Marks & Spencer to its work revitalizing the Butlin’s brand to its “swing the vote” youth campaign for charity vinspired. Even more impressive, Unity picked up five In2 SABRE Awards, for its innovative work in crowdsourcing, online advertising, and influencer outreach. All of that justifies Unity’s description of itself as “a new kind of creative agency” and its claim to have moved beyond traditional PR briefs to compete with agencies from other disciplines for multichannel assignments.
The reasons for this success are manifold, but among them it’s clear that the ability to balance left and right brain—Unity’s creativity is matched by its commitment to research, planning and process—and its emphasis on mission (“we exist to increase human happiness” might seems like a lofty claim, but its ambition is reflected in the firm’s campaigns) are key among them. Fee income increased by 35% in 2015, to £3.2 million with high-profile clients such as Disney, LEGO, the BBC, Rockstar Games, and Nissan (as well as the UK’s junior doctors in their labor dispute with the government, which Unity is handling pro bono) joining a roster that includes M&S, Direct Line, PizzaExpress, and Butlin’s. The firm has brought in new talent too, with Davnet Doran (formerly of Cake) promoted to managing director and Ella Dorley-Brown and Katy Stolliday promoted to directors, working alongside founders Nik Govier and Gerry Hopkinson. — PH
Dynamo (UK/ Independent)
Founded in 2011 to focus on consumer technology, Dynamo emerged last year to take third spot in the Holmes Report’s Global Creative Index ranking, thanks to an impressive awards haul for such clients as M3D and 3Doodler. Much of that is down to the agency’s sophisticated understanding of crowdfunding, which was again showcased in 2015 by the 3 Doodler 2.0 launch — the biggest sequel launch in crowdfunding history — and similarly successful efforts for Prynt and NEEO. Now 25-strong, Dynamo’s creative approach led to 83% revenue growth in 2015, while pre-tax profits doubled, but the work remains the big draw here — demonstrated again recently by eye-catching campaigns for AttractionTx and Nvidia. — AS
M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment (M&C Saatchi Group)
Always a strong creative firm, M&C Saatchi S&E continues to base its thinking on the premise that "simple ideas enter the brain quicker and stay there longer," as CEO Steve Martin puts it. Now firmly established as a groundbreaking agency in the increasingly sophisticated world of sports and entertainment marketing, after winning EMEA Consumer Consultancy of the Year honours last year, M&C Saatchi S&E has broadened its offer considerably across media, digital and live events, all of which revolves around a reinvented creative approach — called Edison — that stands in stark contrast to the traditional methods deployed by much of the market.
While the firm stands steadfast in its refusal to employ a creative director or creative team, (it believes, quite understandably, that all of its staffers are creative), it has dispensed with tired processes such as brainstorms in favour of a formal creative methodology that brings a measure of rigour and innovation to client briefs, fusing data and behavioural science with creative planning, direction, content and digital innovation. These efforts have been bolstered by its in-house Studio 15 creative unit, which doubled in size to £600k in 2015, delivering a wide range of content for all of its clients.
The work demonstrates that the agency's new approach is paying off. The #WearTheRose campaign for O2 has been rightly celebrated, but there was also some inspiring efforts for Reebok with Kendrick Lamar; a video miniseries for Ballantine’s Golf Club; and the the Stay True Space Gif-it for the same brand, which resulted in 11 documentaries. There were also eye-catching Rugby World Cup campaigns for Heineken and Coca-Cola.The numbers are similarly impressive: The firm employees 62 people in London, and global revenues reached £10m in 2015, up from £7m in 2014, led by new business from Samsung and BNY Mellon, and significant growth of its Ballantine’s, Adidas and O2 accounts. — AS
Kaper, the firm set up by former MySpace comms director Chris McCafferty in 2009, is not creative for the sake of it. The firm prides itself on delivering commercial goals rather than just coverage, and has distinguished itself from many of the its London consumer peers by developing a strong capability across traditional and digital PR, experiential and content creation. That helped drive a breakout year for the agency in 2015, with revenues up 18% to £2.3m.
Being part of the broader Karmarama Group clearly helps Kaper when it comes to insight and creativity, but the firm's focus on developing 'cultural currency' is a pivotal part of this mix, helping it develop some highly persuasive work for Vauxhall (‘Great British Legends’); English Heritage; Snog; and, Ladbrokes.More than 50% of Kaper's revenue now comes from digital, largely content and video, reflecting its ability to bring in big assignments from Maille (across several markets), Vauxhall, English Heritage, New Scientist, Unilever Foods, Unilever Foundry, British Gas, MasterCard and AOL. — AS
Trigger was launched in 2010 by founder and managing director Preben Carlsen, a thirtysomething former IKEA communication manager, and has made quite an impact in its first five years. It was named Nordic Consultancy of the Year in 2013 and Creative Consultancy of the Year for EMEA last year—as well as picking up the Platinum SABRE for the best campaign of the year in Europe, for its “Stop the Wedding” campaign, which rallied the nation to prevent the marriage of Norway’s first child bride—before revealing that the “wedding” was a hoax to raise awareness of the practice outside of Norway. This year, it followed up with eight EMEA SABRE finalists—more than any other firm with its headquarters on the continent, ranging from an innovative campaign to introduce a new IKEA store to corporate work for local bank DNB to anti-bullying efforts on behalf of Norwegian skier and sports clothing designer Kari Traa.
The firm is distinguished by its emphasis on engagement, developing a content-driven approach markedly different from anything else in the local market, and emphasizing social media. Carlson has been joined by Magdalena Kamøy, head of creative, and managing director Bente Kvam Kristoffersen, both of whom have ad industry experience. The firm now employs 45 people, genberating fees of €2.6 million (up by 26 percent last year) and working for clients including IKEA, DNB, Norwegian Airlines, Telenor, Plantasjen, The Ministry of Climate & Environment, and new additions Cubus, Mills, Rottefella, FINN.no, Av og Til, Abbot, Coca-Cola, Sporveien, Canal Digital, Veidekke, Volvo, and the Norwegian Gaming Authority. Next up, international expansion, with plans for an office in Stockholm later this year.
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