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Culture is everything at Mischief, which was set up in 2006 to “play with the norm”. The 70-strong consumer agency has maintained its entrepreneurial and, yes, mischievous spirit over the past decade and is now deservedly known not only for its creative work, but its focus on “work-life blend”. This ranges from sabbaticals, experience days and training everyone in coaching, to encouraging “side hustles” and supporting everyone’s interests and responsibilities out of work, whether they are parents or training for a marathon.
CEO Frankie Cory took over seamlessly from founder Mitch Kaye in 2013, and the strong culture she has nurtured (with a measure of justified pride) has been a crucial factor in the agency’s development and retention of talent: 90% of Mischief’s account directors joined on its graduate scheme or as assistant account executives, and account director and creative Andy Garner and strategist Daniella Graham will be representing the UK in Cannes this summer as winners of the national Young Lions competition.
It’s also all about the clients, of course, and Mischief developed some impressively effective campaigns over the past 12 months, including revitalising social media engagement for the Football Association, increasing consumer affinity with the National Trust, and getting the UK talking about mental health for the Government’s Time To Talk Day. In fact, 2017 was the agency’s most award-winning year yet, including two gold AMEC awards for measurement, a deeper emphasis on which has been driven by planning director Gemma Moroney.
Existing clients including Asda, Unilever, AkzoNobel, BAE Systems, Vodafone and Sport England were joined by a raft of other big brands over the year, and the agency maintained fee income of £5.2m.
During the year, Mischief added more strategists and creatives to the planning and creative department it set up in 2015, and embedded creatives in its client teams, led by creative directors Damon Statt and Greg Jones. Cory has put her plan for the next three years into place, and says the focus for 2018 will be on growth of Mischief’s core creative consumer accounts, while also looking at areas such as voice-activated search and dark social. — MPS
The Academy (UK/Independent)
It’s been out with the old, and in with the new at The Academy this year. After taking over Shine in January 2016 and tripling in size and headcount, followed by two years of sometimes challenging integration, the 42-strong agency has now retired the Shine brand for good (although founder Rachel Bell remains as chair) and built a new leadership team, including hiring Rachel Byrne as director from Ogilvy Australia to lead its Amazon business.
What hasn’t changed is CEO Mitchell Kaye and creative director Dan Glover’s ambition to be the most famous creative consumer shop in town: they describe themselves as “paranoid and obsessed” about the agency’s prolific creative (and impactful) output for some of the world’s leading brands. Over the past 12 months the agency has retained all its existing clients, including Amazon, AB InBev, Domino’s and Zizzi, and as well as strong organic growth it added big names such as Disney, Britvic and Alton Towers to its roster, converting 80% of pitches.
It was a year of investment in new services to boost creative capability still further. Live experience offer, Jubba (headed by Andy Ashton, who joined from Kaye’s old stomping ground, Mischief) has delivered large-scale events including European film premières for Amazon Prime Video. The Academy also launched an arts PR agency, All Things Considered, set-up by former Cow PR managing director Clare Myddleton. And award-winning filmmaker Gary Tarn came on board to head up The Academy Productions, now the fastest-growing area of the business, which has made more than 300 films from cinema documentary for Leffe to a TV ad for Phramcy4U and social films for Amazon, Disney and Domino’s.
Fee income growth over a year of quite profound change and investment was around 7%, to just over £3.8m. And on the other side of the Shine merger, Kaye is more thoughtful about the agency’s plans for the year ahead than his confidence and ambition might suggest. He and Glover are committed to The Academy fulfilling the promise of its name, as a place that insists on the highest industry standards as well as the continuous development of its people, not only in its pillars of “Intelligent Thinking, Applied Creativity, Quality Production and Connected to the Right People”, but also training future leaders how to run a business and think like an entrepreneur. — MPS
Marco de Comunicacion (Independent)
With offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, Paris, Casablanca and Miami and a team of close to 100 professionals, Marco de Comunicacion offers a full range of services including publicity, events, audiovisual and design, as well as online communications, public affairs (including an EU affairs offer), social media, and influencer campaigns. In 2017, the firm expanded further, moving beyond PR with the launch of MARCO! Lifestyle, a 360-degree advertising agency. MdC brought on Manex Rekarte as creative director to oversee the operation, while adding to group oversight.
The fast-growing agency ((MdC grew by about 25% or more for four consecutive years) had an 11% lift in 2017 thanks to new assignments from Danone, EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office), Mattel, LidL, LaLiga, D.O. Ribera del Duero, Udemy, Kiwi, Car2Go and Spaces, and continuing assignments for Netflix (which helped drive the firm’s expansion into the Portuguese market), EUIPO (EU), Netflix, World Water Council, Unilever, Conforama, ANFEVI / Friends of Glass, Kaiserwetter and Etihad Airways. Among hallmarks of the year: McD used World Water Day to position its client World Water Council as the leading authority on water-related issues. Its efforts reaped results, generating 1,500 news pieces and more than 500,000 video views in just 10 days of more than 1b people. MdC last year also solidified its stature as a truly international operation, with just 50% of its income fees coming from within Iberia.
MdC was a pioneer in digital and social in the Iberian region, and quickly realized that new media knew no geographic boundaries. As a result, the firm has built a team multilingual consultants from 17 different nationalities. It also has a dedicated digital marketing agency, Influencia. — PH / DM
Tin Man (UK/Independent)
Tin Man is a small but gutsy creative powerhouse. At only four years old and 16 people strong, it just keeps coming up with emotionally-resonant “campaigns with heart” that other agencies wish they’d thought of, resulting in multiple awards (including being named “pound for pound” the most creative agency worldwide in our Global Creative Index last year) as well as soaring revenues and profits since CEO Mandy Sharp set up Tin Man in 2013.
Average margins over the past three years have stood at 25%, and for 2017, fee income stood at £728,000 with 21% margins. Two specialisms emerged during the year: entertainment (ITV, Cartoon Network and numerous book launches for Little, Brown) and spirits, with the team now looking after a number of distilleries and whisky and gin brands. Other wins included WaterAid and dating site Plenty of Fish.
In October the agency was dealt a huge blow when its biggest client, airline Monarch, very publicly went into administration. Sharp and her team (including strategic planning director Elly Kestenbaum and head of client services Natalie Stewart) pulled out all the stops, talking to new prospects, growing existing client work, and winning every pitch that was already lined up. Within 60 days they had secured an extra £77,000 of income, not only plugging the gap but smashing financial targets for the year.
Tin Man also found time to develop a new evaluation tool, Heart Monitor – which gauges the power of its ideas against client’s communications and commercial objectives such as perception change, sales, intention to buy and share of voice – and to carry out its annual Brand Heart Monitor research into how consumers interact with “brands with heart”. — MPS
In just eight years, W has established itself as one of the fastest-growing, most agile and most creative agencies in the business. Under the leadership of founder and global CEO Warren Johnson, the 101-strong agency has gained a reputation for award-winning work and a truly entrepreneurial spirit: W’s commercial shrewdness is arguably streets ahead of many of its rivals.
Fee income across the company was up 23% from £5.83m to £7.19m. In March 2017 W acquired Glue in Newcastle, creating W North to join its offices in London, Amsterdam and Singapore. Johnson also significantly boosted his management team with strategy and creative smarts, hiring Adam Mack as CEO from Weber Shandwick, and Mark Perkins from MHP as creative director.
The agency’s work ranges from serious social impact campaigns (dominating the news on World Mental Health Day for the charity CALM) to talent management (creating its first cinema ad for Lynx with Anthony Joshua). Over the year, new accounts for Spotify, Yo!, Hard Rock Hotel, Major League Baseball, Cancer Research UK and Money Supermarket joined other iconic brands on W’s client roster, including Levi’s (for whom it created the House of Levi’s in Soho, successfully reconnecting the heritage brand with hot music stars, actors and other influencers). The agency also built on its work for Lynx, Marmite and Ben & Jerry’s to grow its work for Unilever, scooping its entire food portfolio, and launched a festival division to run all comms for events including V and Wireless.
And, as much investor and innovator as comms leader, W initiated a couple of further side ventures of its own in 2017, including working with the Chase vodka distillery to develop the UK’s first limoncello, Pococello (further underlining its drinks expertise, with a portfolio including Freixenet and Aperol), to taking a stake in jewellery specialist Facets and investing in the Allbright support network for female leaders. The company also has a Personal Development Fund to help its people gain sector expertise, and an Enterprise Seed Fund, allowing the team to invest in new businesses they are excited about. — MPS
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