PR Agency of the Year: Frank PR

This two-time former winner has enjoyed a resurgence over the past 12 months, and made it a hat-trick by reeling in a host of big-name clients and a double-digit rise in net profit.

Frank PR is no stranger to Marketing's PR Agency of the Year award, having picked it up in both 2005 and 2006. This year, the well-known consumer agency has reclaimed its crown after impressing the judges with a series of imaginative and headline-grabbing campaigns, backed up by impressive growth figures. 'Frank by name and frank by nature,' was the verdict of the judges. 'They really do what they say on the tin.'

It is now 10 years since Frank was founded by Graham Goodkind and Andrew Bloch, but the agency remains on an upward curve. Over the past year, it has reeled in big-name clients including Tetley, Lynx, Grolsch, Tia Maria and Nickelodeon. At the same time, founding clients Sara Lee and Amshold (the holding company for Lord Sugar's business interests) both remain with the agency. In the 12 months to September 2010, Frank achieved double-digit net profit growth.

Clever, open dialogue with clients and the public has contributed to Frank's success. Last winter, the agency persuaded former members of St Winifred's School Choir, who sang on the 1980 hit single There's No One Quite Like Grandma, to reunite to publicise the sixth annual Big Knit campaign on behalf of client Innocent. The result was 300 pieces of coverage and the biggest year to date for the charity initiative. Innocent marketing director Thomas Delabriere, who is also a business leader member of The Marketing Society, considered the campaign 'an amazing idea to breathe life into the most recent Big Knit, which really needed a burst of new energy'.

Frank also demonstrated its effectiveness on a small budget by generating an impressive 379 pieces of editorial for the image-sharing website Historypin, which launched in the summer.

Having worked with Frank for several years, Delabriere, who nominated the agency for this award, is confident that it is a worthy winner. He enthuses: 'Frank has consistently impressed me with its creativity and ability to kick-start buzz and positive word-of-mouth in its campaigns, for budgets of all sizes.'

Focus on - Drench

Frank grabbed the attention of media picture desks across the land when it captured eager hamsters 'queuing' to bid for a starring role in a TV ad for spring-water brand Drench.

The agency had kicked off its campaign weeks earlier with classified newspaper ads announcing a search for talented hamsters. After snapping the hamsters waiting patiently outside London's Jazz Cafe, Frank proceeded to leak 'audition footage' to key press outlets.

Having built up media interest, the tongue-in-cheek campaign culminated in the exclusive first play of the ad on The Sun's website, as well as the inclusion of a teaser in the newspaper. The footage was also uploaded to YouTube, where it attracted more than 600,000 views.

Best of the rest

The judges described Weber Shandwick as 'a global powerhouse of PR' that recorded 'incredible growth' over the past year. In tough conditions, the agency stood out from the crowd by posting a stunning 58% rise in revenue from its top 20 UK clients.

Campaigns for GlaxoSmithKline and the Equality and Human Rights Commission demonstrated the agency's 'solid and reliable' approach to publicity offensives, according to judges. For drugs firm GSK and Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, it used its clout to create a high-profile fashion, music and celebrity event that successfully promoted awareness of cervical cancer. For the Equality and Human Rights Commission, it challenged perceptions and stereotypes by creating the first Muslim Women Power List.

Cake was commended for its creative take on PR and a pioneering approach to social media. In the summer, the agency was briefed to raise awareness for the West End Marketing Association. Its response was to erect an eye-catching 30m2 maze in Trafalgar Square, encouraging people to 'get lost in the West End' and discover its hidden gems.

The agency demonstrated its digital capabilities by creating for Yahoo! the biggest online penalty shoot-out game to date. It also started working with Jon Morter, the campaigner who stopped Simon Cowell's X Factor from gaining a fifth successive Christmas Number 1 song in 2009, by mobilising people via Facebook to buy a Rage Against the Machine track instead. Additionally, the judges applauded Cake for its commitment to sustainability, including identifying 50 ways for it to be as sustainable as possible.

Pretty Green burst onto the PR agency scene in 2008 and has registered impressive growth since. Mark Stringer's outfit already has 34 staff and a PRWeek New Agency of The Year award under its belt. In the past year the agency grabbed headlines by helping a man try to breach the sound barrier for Red Bull and getting 100 Beyonce lookalikes to dance in Trafalgar Square to publicise gum brand Trident's sales promotion, which offered music fans the chance to see the singer at The O2 in London.

The Red Consultancy demonstrated creativity and strong leadership over the past year. The agency was hit by the sudden loss of government contracts following the general election, yet still maintains its headcount. Highlights of the year included creating the world's first cashless busker, for Barclaycard Contactless, and revealing the UK's most identical twins, for Wispa Duo. Red also helped raise £3000 for its official charity, Centrepoint, after rebranding itself as 'Red and White' for the FIFA World Cup.

Also shortlisted was Splendid.

Previous winners
2009: Mischief
2008: Blue Rubicon
2007: Blue Rubicon
2006: Frank PR


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