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In its 10th year in business, Hope&Glory continues to defy convention: the highly-regarded founders Jo Carr (chief client officer) and James Gordon-MacIntosh (chief creative officer) have proved that it’s possible to run a large pure-play brand agency that balances stand-out, multi-award-winning creative ideas with long-standing client relationships, and makes a good profit without compromising on being a great place to work. Hope&Glory’s stated purpose is “to create work that earns attention” and it shows no sign of losing its creative edge, with an impressive 11 SABRE nominations this year. The agency continues to innovate rather than taking its reputation for outstanding brand campaigns for granted, and in 2021 focused on developing its work across brand experience, social, content and consumer-focused brand purpose campaigns.
Hope&Glory is based in London.
After slowing on growth for the first time in 2020, in 2021 Hope&Glory’s business exceeded pre-pandemic profitability, with fees up 28% to £10.1 million. The agency won Virgin Media’s work as the brand merged with O2, and won the coveted Greggs account. Other New work came from brands including Virgin Media, Greggs, Etsy, Hyundai, Guiness, Netflix, Bumble and Samsung, and the agency extended its work for Sky. Hope&Glory retained all existing clients over the year, maintaining long-term relationships with O2, Barclays, IKEA, The Royal Mint, Airbnb, Sony, Uber, Uber Eats and Edrington-Beam Suntory. The roster also includes Meta, American Express, Sainsbury’s, Argos, Adidas and Guinness, as well as pro bono work for several charities. The team grew to 87 and churn was 5%, with departing people either moving in-house or for lifestyle reasons.
In 2021 Hope&Glory was awarded full Blueprint status for its commitment to diversity, after a comprehensive overhaul of practices and policies, and 15% of the team and 10% of the board now come from BAME backgrounds. The board is 50% female, and the agency has a number of neurodiverse team members. The agency’s work reflects its approach: it ensures influencers are from diverse backgrounds, that imagery and videography reflects society, and pushes clients to be more inclusive. Hope&Glory expanded its already-generous parental policies to cover adoption leave, miscarriage, fertility (including financial support) and a package of menopause support. Training covered areas from resilience to micro-aggressions, and the agency introduced flexible hours, and Above&Beyond Scholarships so the deal could deepen their skills in specific areas. The intern programme continues – over half the team started as interns – and 100% of Hope&Glory’s people say they would recommend it as an employer. Significant hires over the year included Adam Mack, former at W Communications, Weber Shandwick and Freuds, as head of insight and strategy.
Stand-out creative work included giving IKEA’s buy-back scheme – part of its sustainability and circular economy commitments – a human and emotional boost, adding ‘pre-loved labels’ to select pieces of furniture with stories about written by the previous owners about their place in their homes. The campaign had huge media and social impact and significantly increased perceptions of IKEA’s brand, environmental credentials and quality. To bring the O2 to Gen Z when live music was off the cards, the agency recreated the venue as a new map in Fortnite, the world’s biggest gaming environment. As well as millions of livestreams and high levels of engagement, the campaign led to a 23-point increased in positive sentiment towards the O2.
— Maja Pawinska Sims
Frank, the agency co-founded by Graham Goodkind and Andrew Bloch celebrated its 21st birthday in 2021 by returning to independence. After 14 years as part of Australian holding group Enero, which also owns Hotwire, in March the agency bought back the remaining 75% of post-earnout shares, meaning 100% of Frank is now held by Goodkind – who owns the majority – and two minority shareholders: MD Alex Grier and non-executive director Bloch, who stepped back from the firm in 2020. The agency’s mission has always been to increase the ‘Talkability’ of consumer brands – their registered trademark which has entered the PR lexicon – and the agency’s cheeky spirit has a new lease of life after something of a creative lull, notably with the multi-award-winning Weetabix and Beans campaign, a true old-school PR stunt for a social media age that highlighted Frank’s sweet spot of giving brands that aren’t newsy a place in culture and conversation.
Frank is based in London.
The agency had fee income of £3.9 million in London, up 11% from a like-for-like £3.5 million in 2020 (higher reported figures for 2020 included its former Australia operation within Enero). The agency is on track for more impressive growth this year, and is also focused on beefing up the team, which should be bigger than the 32 people it currently has on staff. Frank also returned to form on its pitch conversion rate, picking up work for the likes of Wiltshire Farm Foods, Herbalife and Innocent, which joined existing clients including Direct Line Group, G2 esports, Huawei, Simply Business, Mars, Skoda and the Weetabix cereals portfolio.
The leadership team put a lot of work into rebuilding the agency culture for its new independent age, with the aim of creating a business where its people are excited by the direction of travel and the work they are doing. Key recent hires included creative lead Lee Sanders, known as the agency’s ‘fixer’, and managing partner Bianca Lee-Change, who returned to the agency after a four-year gap with a remit that includes leading on ESG work and on DE&I initiatives, including the agency’s participation in the Taylor Bennett Foundation’s Summer Stars internship programme. The agency has launched its Flexifrank flexible working policy, which allows people to work from home if they need to and means there are no fixed hours, but with the proviso that it’s important for the team to be together as much as possible. The agency has unlimited holiday, rolled out mental resilience training, and allows two days a year for everyone to do something that makes a difference in society. Rather unusually in a benefits package, Frank also offers all staff a free tattoo after a year with the agency.
Launched in 2015 with minority investment from celebrated UK ad agency Mother, The Romans immediately caught the attention of London’s fiercely competitive consumer market by boldly professing its embarrassment with the existing quality of PR creativity. Co-founders Joe Mackay-Sinclair and Misha Dhanak brought considerable pedigree from their previous agency postings and, while Dhanak departed in 2019, The Romans continues to back up its fighting words with some real creative victories, helping its goal of shifting PR from poor relations towards a more central brand building function.
The firm’s London office employs 49 people, up from 36 last year.
The Romans followed up its 8% expansion in 2020 by almost doubling in size to £5.1m in 2021, driven by a series of landmark events for the firm. A specialist sports and entertainment division launched and landed Formula E within two weeks, while 30% of the firm’s work now spans corporate. The Romans also expanded its work with Nursem, an equity venture founded by an NHS nurse and now listed in Boots. Unsurprisingly, there was plenty of new business too, including Avast, Amazon Alexa, Ben & Jerry’s Europe, BULK Powders, Candy Kittens, Commscope, Ecover, Estrid, Farewill, Free Now, Go Compare, Gumtree, Nestle Cereals, OVO Energy, Santander, Sports Direct, The Mayor of London’s Office, Vistaprint, WWE and Zip.
Mackay-Sinclair continues to focus on putting people ahead of profits, with a singular focus on developing junior talent and enabling them to shine. 10% of company profits goes directly to junior team bonuses, ensuring an average bonus of £6k, while support initiatives include a trained mental health professional, personalised development programmes, free breakfast and lunch. The Romans also made a series of key hires in 2021, including Charlie Brown to oversee sports and entertainment, Kate Brazier from Grayling and Janelle Feliciano as creative director. And The Romans’ stepped up its commitment to anti-racism including training, recruitment, supply chain targets, and numerous mentoring programmes. The firm supports the People Like Us non-profit, and now features a management team that is 80% female and 40% non-white.
The Romans’ talent plays an outsize industry role, winning the Young Lions, featuring on numerous lists and rankings, and leading key initiatives and organizations. Unsurprisingly, the firm’s creative culture results in a similarly outsize awards’ performance, helping it land top spot in PRovoke Media’s Global Creative Index in Europe. There were six EMEA SABRE nominations, most notably for ‘Fast & Slow’ with Sports Direct, ‘Let’s Do London’ for the Mayor of London, ‘Push Off Politely’ for Santander, ‘2021 by George Orwell’ for Avast, and ‘A Colourful Life’ for Farewill. Of note, 23% of the agency work in fulltime creative or strategy roles.
— Arun Sudhaman
Tin Man was founded eight years ago by ambitious consumer PR wizard Mandy Sharp with a laser focus on creating “communications with heart” that has endured as the agency has grown from its consumer brands heartland to expanding into digital and corporate work. The agency is grounded in its own evidence from its Heart Score measurement and evaluation tool that the power of emotional connections can change behaviour and make a real commercial impact on brands. It works across sectors, from entertainment and education, to travel and leisure, to healthcare and tech platforms, to food and drink, devising insight-led, strategic, emotionally-engaging, creative campaigns across earned, shared, owned and paid media. In 2021 the dynamic agency continued to innovate its offer, growing influencer marketing work using its Tinfluence tool to annual fees of £1 million, while Oh My! – the design, video production and content studio it launched in 2020 – has outstripped all expectations. This year, to equip Tin Man for the next phase of growth, Sharp has restructured the agency and the senior leadership team.
Tin Man is headquartered in London.
After the rollercoaster of 2020, which nevertheless ended up with 13% growth, 2021 was a more solid year for Tin Man’s business, which grew income by 25% to just over £3 million, with profitability of 21%. Notable new clients included Virgin Atlantic, Mondelez, Gumtree, Danone, the Brown-Forman drinks portfolio, including Jack Daniels, Ocado and Simply Health, which joined a roster including Virgin Media, Unilever, Barclaycard, Hilton Hotel group, Plenty of Fish, Guide Dogs, Megabus, LNER and Smart Energy GB. As the pitch and talent landscape got more busy and complex over the year, Tin Man developed seven rules for pitching, which led to it turning down 55% of new briefs and increasing conversion to 83%. The agency also identified organic opportunities, achieving 118% growth in fees from existing clients. The team grew 20% to 32 people, including senior corporate, media and digital specialists.
Every one of Tin Man’s team say they feel proud to work at the agency, are learning, stimulated and challenged, and are comfortable being their true selves at work. In 2021 the agency doubled its investment in its Hearts & Minds mental wellness programme to £6,000 for every employee, leading to 96% of staff saying they have access to resources to deal with a mental health issue. In 2021, Tin Man became an ambassador for BAME 2020’s No Turning Back initiative, to offer and identify opportunities for BAME talent, and worked with the Taylor Bennett Foundation and People Like Us. BAME hiring targets were exceeded by 9%: the team is now 22% Black, Asian, mixed race or ethnic minority talent, 10% LGBT and 16% neurodiverse. To seek out young applicants from diverse backgrounds the agency’s PRosper outreach programme works with schools and universities outside of London each year. In the latest staff survey, 100% said Tin Man has an inclusive and fair culture.
Tin Man was shortlisted for four SABRE awards for its 2021 work, including for Hilton, Smart Energy GB and Virgin Media. Outstanding campaigns included the Virgin Media Pizzeria, which used hologram technology to create an immersive experience that brought loved ones together over a virtual meal in lockdown and led to 24% of non-customers saying they would switch to the broadband provider. The agency also emotionally engaged older consumers in budget coach brand Megabus by creating exclusive tickets to enable grandparents who had been isolated in lockdown to reunite with their grandchildren.
— Maja Pawinska Sims
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