Marketing's Agency of the Year round-up has not traditionally looked outside the top 20 agencies on the basis that these account for the majority of client billings, and therefore this is where the best work, both in terms of strategy and execution, should be found. We have also not tended to consider agencies that specialise solely in strategy, believing that agencies that buy as well, face the tougher challenge in delivering results and are arguably worthier contenders for our shortlist.
This year, a fledgling strategic agency has turned this thinking on its head. In 2002 Naked has been the enfant terrible of the media world and the planning agency of choice of some highly desirable clients.
Its watchword is media neutral planning. The promise that Naked will examine a company's broader marketing and communications issues, and select media channels in a way that solely focuses on a client's brand and its target audience, has proved a no-brainer for advertisers as diverse as Honda and Reebok.
Naked's success in positioning itself as a 'must-have' for key clients and its ability to have a point of view and set the agenda in a difficult year for media agencies is what makes it Marketing's Media Agency of the Year. Its tally of new business wins, which the agency says amounts to £200m of new planning billings, is impressive by anyone's standards - not least because the agency boasts a staff of just 28.
In 2002, Naked picked up the communications, brand and marketing strategy for PlayStation across Europe, communications strategy for the launch and development of Hutchison 3G, the strategic communications task for Honda, and clutch of COI planning briefs.
These include the NHS and Inland Revenue, plus sexual health and teenage pregnancy briefs from the Department of Health. It also won communications planning for a Holsten Fusion launch, launches for Pedigree and centralised media for Campbell's. Creatively, Naked has also been making an impact, picking up awards at Cannes and in the UK.
The Warholiser Campaign aimed to raise the profile of the Warhol exhibition by encouraging visitors to the Tate Modern web site to upload images of themselves to be 'Warholised'. The best images were turned into a Warhol-style portrait and posted on the web site to give the subjects their 15 minutes of fame. The site used no PR or ads, but built support virally through users sending their photos to friends and relatives. The site attracted 200,000 unique users over 49 days, and exhibition attendance was Tate Modern's second highest ever.
Reebok turned to Naked in the battle with rival sportswear brands for the attention of England fans in the run-up to the World Cup. Naked came up with The Sofa Games, attracting young fans by offering alcohol, music, live big-screen football and the chance to play in five-a-side matches using sofas as goalposts. The Games ran as one-day events in Glasgow, Manchester and Brighton and aimed to complement Reebok's brand ads, created by Lowe, which show a man fighting a sofa that is determined to prevent him from leaving the house to exercise. The event was supported by in-store promotions with retail partners such as JD Sports.
The results? According to Reebok's own research, the campaign shifted Reebok's brand perception ahead of Adidas and placed Reebok ahead of the number one brand Nike in terms of 'growing in popularity'. In addition, sales with key retail partners increased by up to 15% during the four weeks of the promotion.
The challenge for Naked in 2003 is to maintain its cutting edge while expanding to meet demand and to continue to set the agenda as aggressively and successfully as it has during the past year.
OMD UK had a good year. The agency with attitude pulled in the £16m Walkers and the £9m Quakers business from MediaVest, won the £20m brief for directory enquiry service The Number, and saw the return of the £8m Halfords business.
The OMD Network picked up the global Siemens account and the pan European Sony business, worth over £200m. On the downside, its share of the British Gas business defected to Carat and Gillette was swallowed by MindShare in a global alignment.
OMD's ongoing work for Rimmel, including a link-up with Sugar to find the next Kate Moss, saw the agency shortlisted for an IPA Media Effectiveness Award.
The Mach 3 campaign for Gillette's World Cup sponsorship was another example of clever thinking. Using a competition to win World Cup tickets to support Gillette's 'Roar with crowd' retail promotion, the agency joined up with Loaded , a key title for Mach3's target audience of 16- to 34-year-old-men to produce ten magazines that 'roared' on opening. Readers who bought a roaring copy of Loaded won prizes.
Called to defend TV Licensing and the £25m BBC business in a statutory review, as well as its £7m Pizza Hut task, PHD took on its rivals this year and won. It now has a role advising the BBC on key strategic issues.
PHD won a clutch of accounts in 2002, including the planning tasks on Adidas and Hyundai. As well as having its BT strategic planning contract renewed, PHD was retained by O2 when it demerged from BT, adding £40m to its billings. But it lost the £1.2m Kenwood business, while the £20m Mars planning task was centralised into MediaCom.
O2's sponsorship of Big Brother 3 was one example of PHD's great thinking.
While obviously an extension of BT Cellnet's BB2 deal, the sponsorship of BB3 also had to provide a launchpad for a new brand.
O2 provided the mobile telecoms infrastructure to allow cross network text voting for the first time, enabling texting to live studio shows.
By the end of July, 14 weeks after launch, O2 was generating 37% brand awareness compared with 39% for T-Mobile and 31% for Virgin Mobile.
Marketing's Agency of the Year for 2001 hasn't rested on its laurels.
Its new business roll continued, despite it being a quiet year for media pitches. Top of the list: the centralised £120m Masterfoods media planning task.
The agency thumbed its nose at its detractors by scooping some sexy brands, including the £20m Wrigleys business and, following the brand's acquisition by RBS, the £8m Virgin One account.
The agency demonstrated its ability to handle a variety of advertisers by adding the £23m Courts task and the £20m account for Australian life insurer AMP. Maintaining its record of last year, it did not lose any major business this year.
MediaCom is building a reputation for good strategic thinking, particularly in direct response.
Its work for Egg saw it recommend a change in media selection and in creative on direct response material in order to fend off competition.
Egg's acquisition performance improved by 300%, with online customer acquisition costs reduced by 415%.
MindShare continues to suffer from the perception that it has not really delivered its house of media proposition, and the departure of chief executive Simon Rees gave the agency little chance to counter the criticisms.
New chief executive Kelly Clark, drafted in from Asia Pacific looks to be a steady hand on the tiller, and the appointment of Optimedia's Sandra Collins, to spearhead new business and marketing, is a canny addition to an impressive management line-up.
New business wins included Hutchison 3G, Heineken, Triumph and, most impressively, the global Gillette business. On international pitches the agency lost out to OMD on the consolidated Sony and Siemens accounts and saw Halfords' move back into OMD.
The tie-up between Kellogg's kids cereal brands and Cartoon Network was impressive. It aimed for standout in the cereal aisle by replacing on-pack characters Snap, Crackle and Pop with Cartoon Network characters the Powerpuff Girls. Kelloggs sponsored the Johnny Bravo and Powerpuff Girls cartoons. The campaign achieved high awareness - a third of kids in a sample test were aware of the promotion.
Starcom Motive continues to prove its mettle as an agency with strong planning and buying credentials, putting in a good performance in a difficult year.
2002 saw it win the £23m BT planning business (with sister agency MediaVest), the £14m Woolwich business from Optimedia (described as a walk-in by critics), the £24m Honda brief from Mediahead and the £10m media task for loyalty management programme Nectar. Losses were confined to Air Miles, which it resigned because of Nectar, the Co-op Wholesale business and the £2m Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) account.
Starcom has a tradition of clever media thinking and 2002 saw it live up to its reputation. Highlights include advising Barclays to advertise solely at weekends, a strategy that helped the bank achieve a total share of voice of 48%, three times higher than its nearest competitor.
Starcom was also behind Nik Naks' sponsorship of The Osbournes, the highest rated show ever on MTV. Nik Naks' sponsorship followed the series over to Channel 4.
This year was solid for Carat, which built on last year's success in beating Zenith to the number one billings slot. As agency groups huddled even closer together, Carat seemed to revel in its independent status.
Carat's data-driven approach, in which customers' data and insights are placed at the centre of the planning process, has proved attractive to clients such as Dell.
It also contributed to Carat's new business successes, which included retaining the £40m Royal Mail and Parcelforce accounts and winning the £50m consolidated British Gas task. The only downer was losing the £23m Courts business to MediaCom.
The agency is rising to the challenge of delivering good creative and strategic work. It won the £18m Department for Transport - Office of the Deputy Prime Minister business (a strategic brief), Madame Tussaud's and the Post Office and BMW planning tasks.
Carat Sport negotiated The Times' sponsorship of cricket on C4; an invaluable weapon in the paper's battle to be seen as the number one broadsheet for sport. The tie-up between Smirnoff and Faking It on Channel 4 was also a good brand fit.
MANNING GOTTLIEB OMD
Manning Gottlieb OMD has had a steady year, with wins including the £5.4m Safeway business, the £25m Columbia TriStar business, and the £34m AA business. Losses were confined to the consolidation of the £8m Virgin One account into MediaCom following the brand's acquisition by RBS, and the strategic consultancy task for Alliance & Leicester.
As agency consolidation gained pace, MGOMD and OMD UK opted to conduct joint buying negotiations - a step that doubtless contributed to the network scooping the consolidated Sony business.
Marketing was impressed by the deal struck with Channel 4 to reposition Npower as a provider of a range of services to a more upmarket consumer. MGOMD persuaded C4 to create a strand of home interest style programming under the strapline 'Npower4homes'.
Npower had its own area on C4's web site and produced branded brochures on house-related topics. Key measures of the brand have since improved, with viewers' trust increasing from 37% to 49% and sponsorship awareness rising to 12%.