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Founded in 2004 by CEO Alec Samways, Splendid Communications has benefited from a strong planning capability that has helped it develop cutting-edge creative campaigns for such clients as Greggs, Tesco, Smirnoff and Hendrick’s. In 2021, the firm acquired a majority stake in creative agency Kingdom Collective, the first move in its ‘Splendid Collective’ plan which also incldues the 2022 acquisition of Riot Communications. The deals give Splendid a broader footprint beyond consumer brands into fashion, music, arts and literature — cementing its ability to connect brands with real people to make a positive cultural impact.
Splendid’s 66 staff are located in the UK.
Fee income grew by 29% in 2022 to £5.8m, with £1m in new business and a 67% increase in income from existing, multi-brand clients. Headcount grew by 61% (or 39% excluding acquisitions). A 70% pitch win rate featured a number of significant account wins, including Burger King, Dettol, Doritos, Dorset Cereals, Jordans Country Crisp, Get Your Guide, Ginsters, The Flavourists, Twinings and Whitley Neil — joining an existing client roster made up of such names as Big Yellow Self Storage, Naked Juices, Pepsico, Tesco and William Grant.
Samways’ leadership team also includes client partnerships director Debi Clay-Moore, group creative strategy director Alex Clough, media and operations director Chrissy Kellaway, creative director Fran Langdon, and head of wellbeing Jane Latham. The firm runs an annual diversity barometer to create a strategy that aims to meet the best industry benchmarks, along with compulsory DEI training. There is also a Splendid Futures internship program run with Creative Access, and the firm has also appointed Sophie Barnes as D&I champion. Latham, meanwhile, is a registered therapist who oversees a wellbeing programme along with leadership training to ensure every voice is heard.
Splendid’s ‘Cultural Impact Model’ aims to measure the commercial and cultural impact of earned-centric brand campaigns, which has helped to ensure that PR campaign are now included in mixed media modelling by the likes of Pepsico. The approach is backed up by webinars and a range of thought leadership activities. Campaign highlights included Burger King’s Meat Free Launch, Walkers April Fools and Tesco’s Hot Cross Bun cafe.
— Arun Sudhaman
The Academy smashed through the £6 million fee income barrier in 2022, as two years of restructuring and revamping the business came to fruition. The independent PR agency was founded nearly nine years ago by Mitch Kaye and Dan Glover with a mission to bring the brightest minds together to create work that gets noticed, makes a difference and passes into popular culture.
Its founding pillars are Intelligent Thinking, Applied Creativity, Quality Production and Connected to the Right People. Each pillar is treated with equal importance – delivering strategy and creativity using both the rational and emotional sides of the brain – meaning the agency is as obsessive with business impact as it is creative accolades. Its work encompasses PR and advertising, design and identity, digital and live experiences.
The Academy is based in London and works for clients across EMEA and globally.
Fee income for 2022 was up just shy of 30% to £6.1 million, with the team growing to 57. The Academy again won work for high-profile brands such as Holland & Barrett, Pizza Express, Decathlon, Marie Curie, BT, EE, Activision, Peroni, which joined a client roster that includes Amazon, Freevee, Disney, Morrisons, Southern Comfort, Lucozade Sport, Canary Wharf Group, Heathrow and Asahi. Many of the agency’s client relationships are long term: it has worked for Disney for 14 years and Heathrow for 12 years (including in the leadership team’s previous incarnation as Mischief), and for Amazon and Morrisons for eight years.
Ensuring everyone in its team has a positive experience of working at the agency – from pay to socials – and a great working environment has been a core focus for The Academy over the past year. The Staying Human wellbeing programme offers a range of benefits, while the team are all in the office every Tuesday and every Thursday, and one other day of their choice. The agency’s commitment to DE&I continued, including training covering language, micro-aggressions, and culture, and changing the way it recruits – from blind CVs to working with a range of partners plugged into underrepresented communities. The agency now has 18% representation of people of colour. The Academy reviewed and improved all its staff policies benefits, including increasing annual leave to 31 days, and upped its entry level salaries, so every band in the agency has moved up; its three-month graduate scheme is now open to non-graduates and the placement pays enough for candidates to live and work in London. Kaye and Glover are supported by a senior team that includes MD Chris Hides, who joined in 2021 having set up M&C Saatchi PR a decade earlier, and ECD Donald Swanepoel, Cow’s former creative director, who also joined in 2021: both pivotal to last year’s success.
For Black History Month, The Academy created a Poets’ Corner at Canary Wharf to give young, black spoken-word artists a platform where their voices could be heard, and for women going through the menopause, the agency worked with Holland & Barrett on its Meno-Pause & Listen pledge, encouraging colleagues and customers to commit to listening to women going through the menopause. Dedicated Listening Rooms were launched in Holland & Barrett stores as well as the first menopause helpline, and the campaign resulted in 4,000 colleagues upskilling to become menopause experts. Other stand-out work over the year included highlighting how Zurich Insurance's critical illness and income protection policies could make living with cancer easier by helping to ease financial pressure, with a photography exhibition showing precious moments through the eyes of cancer patients. The Living Every Moment campaign generated hard-hitting, poignant headlines, and encouraged more people to get early cancer screenings. The agency also launched Activision title Call of Duty Modern Warfare II by inviting celebrities and influencers to compete in a cage tournament in front of hundreds of media and content creators. The resulting films generated over one million organic views, helping the game hit a record $1 billion in sales in 10 days.
— Maja Pawinska Sims
Frank, the legendary UK consumer 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, meaning 100% of Frank is now held by Goodkind – who owns the majority – along with MD Alex Grier and non-executive director Bloch, who stepped back in 2020. The agency’s mission has always been to increase the ‘Talkability’ of consumer brands – its registered trademark which has entered the PR lexicon – and over the past 18 months Frank has undoubtedly got its playful, creative mojo back after something of a lull, consistently and confidently hitting its sweet spot of coming up with bold ideas that give non-newsy brands a place in culture and conversation.
Frank is headquartered in London.
In its first full year of independence, Frank had fee income of £4.8 million, up an impressive 22% on 2021, with a team of 43, up 15% on the previous year. The agency picked up work for the likes of Westfield, Green Cuisine, Meridian Foods, VW Cupra, Tenderstem, Tourism New Zealand, Breville Crock Pot, Guide Dogs, Herbalife and Whiteclaw, which joined existing clients including Innocent, Direct Line Group, Skoda, the Weetabix cereals portfolio and Wiltshire Farm Foods in its portfolio. The agency was also more choosy about the brands it pitched for and the kind of work it wanted to do, achieving 50/50 retainers vs projects over the year, compared to around 35% retainers in 2021.
Frank’s culture has gone through a big change post-independence, with efforts made to create a workplace that its young team want to be in daily and where they can focus on coming up with brand ideas that they would want to put on their own social channels. In terms of DE&I, the agency continued its partnership with the Taylor Bennett Foundation and is involved in schemes including the Creative Mentoring Network, Socially Mobile and Speakers for Schools. Frank put a new training programme in place, including working with the PRCA to develop resilience training, and made two cost-of-living pay adjustments during the year. The agency continued its Flexifrank flexible working policy: there are no fixed office or working hours, with the proviso that it’s important for the team to be together as much as possible. The agency has unlimited holiday, and allows two days a year for everyone to do something that makes a difference in society. Rather unusually in a benefits package, it also offers all staff a free tattoo after a year with the agency. All of this has resulted in 88% retention for 2022 – the highest it has been for a long time. Key hires included former journalist and Comic Relief press officer Antonia Paget as head of Talkability and Mischa Joslin as head of social and influence.
Frank had four campaigns shortlisted for the SABREs, including its Big Rewild work for Innocent smoothies – one of the most ambitious campaigns in the agency’s history – which featured a one-day only rewilding of London’s Trafalgar Square to highlight Innocent’s initiative to rewild and protect two million hectares of land. Hosted by bushcraft and survival expert Ray Mears, the made-for-media moment was covered by more than 600 media outlets. Frank also launched the first ever swim across the Red Sea, undertaken by endurance swimmer and UN patron of the oceans Lewis Pugh, to highlight the threat of climate change to the world’s oceans to leaders gathered at COP27 in Egypt, on the route of the 123km endeavour. The agency has also underpinned its core proposition with science, developing the Talkability Index tool with academics, based on an algorithm that helps to generate ideas and brand campaigns that create measurably impactful moments.
— Maja Pawinska Sims
One of the most-admired consumer shops in the UK, Manifest has been ambitiously purpose-driven since its inception 13 years ago, when CEO Alex Myers founded the firm with a mission to create a creative communications agency that would “build brands that change the world”. The innovative, independent agency has now grown to a small global group of studios that make up a 24-hour creative operation, and is still based on “big strategy, big ideas, big data and big hearts”. In recent years, Manifest has evolved its offer to reflect not only changes in consumers’ relationships with brands and the role of brands in the world, but the newly-certified B Corp agency’s own sense of being a force for good, with industry-leading initiatives around people, purpose and planet – all while still making healthy profits.
Manifest is headquartered in London with studios in Manchester, Stockholm, Melbourne, New York and Los Angeles.
The agency’s 2022 fee income was £5.3 million, up 8% on the previous year. Headcount grew to around 75, with around half the team in the UK. Manifest had 91% client retention last year and a client net promoter score of 84%. It won 27 new clients and converted single-channel consumer briefs into multi-channel, integrated campaigns. Its client roster now includes one of the world’s biggest brands, as well as Chivas Brothers, Tommee Tippee, Gousto, Dettol, Hotels.com, Krispy Kreme, Logitech, Popeyes and Girlguiding. The agency’s invested in training its client experience teams to become client growth specialists, each running their own P&L, and this is set to deliver £1million of additional fees this financial year.
Myers is supported by a strong leadership team including UK MD Ali Maynard James and strategy director and head of DE&I, Julian Obubo. New talent included director Tom Winterton, formerly at The Romans; Daisy Phillips, previously at DeVries Europe, as associate creative director; and former WPP and Saatchi & Saatchi creative lead, Kostas Karanikolas, as its new executive creative director. Manifest strives to build a diverse, equal and inclusive working culture and retained its Blueprint diversity mark last year and 27% of its team are from Black, Asian or ethnic minority backgrounds. Team retention stood at 96%, with an employee Net Promoter Score of 81%. The agency invested in a new non-hierarchical agency structure where all disciplines can thrive, and an in-house diploma training programme, HiBob, plus £1,000 per head spend on external training and development. Its hiring process and bespoke development programme are designed to create and propel career opportunities for groups less represented in creative industries, include ethnic minorities, women in leadership roles, parents and people who require inclusive sensory working environments. The agency also invested in mental wellbing and coaching, and gave the team a cost-of-living pay rise of at least 12%. Manifest is also offsetting is CO2 emissions and has so far planted 1,400 tonnes of trees.
Manifest’s thought leadership platform, Slant, enables its team to voice opinions and ideas, and has led to pieces on everything from creative cutting room floors, campaign trends, partnership pitfalls and regional accents, generating debate and creative discussion. The agency’s outstanding work this year included the #GirlsAreMadeOf campaign for Girlguiding; launching American restaurant chain Popeyes in the UK and contributing to its first UK outlet becoming its highest revenue-generating restaurant in the world. The team also helped Gousto continue to support restaurateurs and businesses post-lockdown with the Cookstarter campaign; built a global strategy for humanitarian technology provider Techfugees; and accelerated the viability of web3 functionality for brands, communities and industries with MSquared.
— Maja Pawinska Sims
For Taylor Herring – the London PR boutique famous for eye-catching, creative campaigns with mass consumer appeal that generate headlines and crash social media timelines – 2022 was the year it stopped becoming a 22-year-old lifestyle business and started becoming a professional, grown-up agency. In its first full year under the ownership of Publicis, which bought the firm founded by husband and wife team James Herring and Cath Taylor in 2021, Taylor Herring grew in all ways, becoming more commercially rigorous and doing more purpose-driven, bottom-line shifting work than ever, while maintaining its vibrant culture and never losing sight of its passion for creating memorable, distinctive campaigns for a mainstream consumer audience.
Taylor Herring is based in London.
In 2022 Taylor Herring increased revenues by 12% to £7.5 million, on margins of 20%, up from 18% the previous year, and the team reached 50 for the first time, with staff retention of more than 89%. Organic revenue grew by 12% and the agency secured new business wins from clients including Aston Martin, Apple TV, Paddy Power, The Sun, easyJet Holidays, ITV, joining existing and retained brands including Beano, easyJet , Iceland, McVitie’s, NatWest, Quorn, Samsung, Subway, Mars and Disney on Taylor Herring’s roster. The agency also focused on growing its production division, St Mark’s Studios, whose revenues increased by 8% growth by delivering work for the likes of Channel 4, Disney and Kellogg’s.
Maintaining a fun, inclusive, diverse company culture with a focus on personal development and mental health was again as much of a priority as business growth for Taylor Herring. To help with the cost-of-living crisis, the agency provided financial advice, free breakfast every day, three free lunches a week, and increased salaries by 10%. It tripled the L&D budget, with staff completing 189 courses, including unconscious bias training. The agency continued its focus on DE&I, including support for Black, Asian and ethnic minority students from non-traditional backgrounds wanting to get into the industry through placements and training; 18% of employees are now from ethnically diverse backgrounds. After consulting the team on their preferences, 92% said they wanted to be in the office three days a week. The agency’s mentoring network is a safety net to catch anyone who may be struggling, and it offers mental health training for senior leaders, a 24-hour helpline and a free Headspace subscription. It introduced flexible bank holiday switching for colleagues who celebrate religious or cultural holidays outside the Christian calendar, and reviewed employment policies so adoption leave, surrogacy leave and shared parental leave now equal 26 weeks full pay, as well as paid arrangements for pregnancy loss and fertility treatment. Chief creative office Peter Mountstevens, who has been with the agency since 2002, and new creative director Lora Martyr refreshed Taylor Herring’s creative proposition, with new staff forums to bring a wider perspective and fresh thinking. New senior hires included director Delilah Pollard, heading up longstanding retained accounts including Quorn and Iceland, and director Lydia Turner to lead projects for Disney and Kellogg's.
Taylor Herring was responsible for this year’s ‘break the internet’ PR campaign in the UK, Mars Bounty-less Celebrations Tubs. Having identified that Bounty remains the least-loved chocolate bar in the Christmas selection box, the team implemented a Bounty-less tub ‘trial’, posing the scenario of banishing Bounty forever. The campaign trended on Twitter for 4 days, achieved more than 1,600 pieces of broadcast coverage and 4,200 press articles, and led to a 34% sales uplift. The agency’s other stand-out work included launching Apple TV+’s Prehistoric Planet docuseries with a ‘billboard’ on a beach in Pembrokeshire, resulting in 280+ pieces of coverage and top five most-streamed show in launch week. The NatWest Scammer House of Horrors campaign for Halloween brought banking scams to life, leading to a 30% increase in visits to the NatWest security centre and the bank presenting the campaign to 50 Regional Organised Crime Units. And when easyJet Holidays tasked the agency to promote its affordable all-inclusive holidays, the team carried out research and worked with an independent financial advisor to prove that a month-long break in Egypt would be cheaper than staying in the UK, given the cost of fuel and grocery bills. The holiday sold out in 48 hours. The agency’s blog celebrating inspirational creative work, Famous Campaigns – written by its junior cohort – has more than 350,000 followers on social media.
— Maja Pawinska Sims
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