A handful of agencies had valid claims to be judged Marketing's Media Agency of the Year, performing creditably on a number of the key performance measures. But only MindShare ticked all the boxes, with impressive new business wins, high levels of customer service, campaign effectiveness and innovation.
The seeds of an exceptional 2003 for MindShare were sown at the back end of last year. The departure of chief executive Simon Rees and the arrival of his replacement Kelly Clark, from the agency's Asia-Pacific region, sparked a restructure around a new executive team, incorporating a number of key hires. This has led to the agency finally delivering on its much-vaunted House of Media proposition.
MindShare's multi-layered client offering was extended during the year, with the addition of three new rooms to its House.
Customer service was enhanced by a data planning function, headed by managing partner Duncan Northey, hired from ZenithOptimedia. Boots was one client to benefit; a fusing of its AdCard customer segment data into TGI data enabled the retailer to gain a better understanding of its customers' attitudes and media consumption.
MindShare's 'film room' began offering clients product placement, merchandising and ticket promotion opportunities around Hollywood movie releases, while a 'cause related marketing room', formed in conjunction with ethical marketing agency Good Business, linked the Break Charity into Kit Kat's 'Britain's Biggest Break' campaign.
Kit Kat's campaign was a perfect illustration of MindShare's approach to media planning and buying, bringing together all the rooms in its House of Media to create an integrated communications package. The campaign combined consumer insight with TV, press, radio, outdoor and online promotion to generate awareness of a national event.
MindShare played a major role in developing the idea for the event. According to Kit Kat marketing manager Jon Lambert: "MindShare was in at the start, and helped create an event that incorporated a number of media firsts."
"It understood perfectly what we wanted. Tie-ups with The Sun and talkSPORT, and the use of interactive TV, were innovative and were integrated with promotions that embraced everything from milk media to office screensavers."
The event engaged 6.5 million people, achieved 75% campaign recall and boosted sales of Kit Kat by 40% in March.
Another MindShare highlight of 2003 was its work on Nike's 'Freestyle' campaign, which fused sport with music and featured an MTV basketball documentary, Freestyler Face Off, linked to Freestyler basketball events around the UK.
Alongside such grand multimedia executions, MindShare also demonstrated its ability to spot a tactical opportunity for clients. The placing of a Benylin ad into a programme investigating the case of the coughing Major found guilty of cheating on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire was one of the year's best examples of brand and media content linkage.
On taking up the reins, Kelly Clark promised a more aggressive approach to winning new business, and he brought in Optimedia marketing director Sandra Collins as a managing partner to spearhead these efforts. Among £85m of new business wins in 2003, MindShare picked up the £20m Nestle coffee account, the £30m Abbey National business, and media buying for Homebase worth £22m. It also retained the £25m Nestle confectionery and £24m Argos accounts following consolidation reviews.
All the business wins, except for Cisco Systems, resulted from UK-only pitches. As a result, MindShare's profile was raised in both the UK media industry and the agency's international network.
High levels of customer service and satisfaction are reflected in the loss of only two accounts in 2003. HP Bulmer moved after being acquired by Scottish & Newcastle, and the Telegraph Group account was resigned after the communications planning brief moved to Naked Insight.
Another managing partner addition during the year was Richard Armstrong from Ogilvy Singapore to head a brand planning function, aimed at linking business and consumer insights to deliver more effective communications channels. Consumer insight is at the forefront of MindShare's client proposition and was key to winning Nestle's coffee business.
Consumer insight initiatives in 2003 included a study embracing social segmentation, brand relations and media consumption; and 'Unwrapping Christmas', a survey to help clients such as Argos, Boots and Mattel understand how and when people do Christmas shopping, enabling them to optimise seasonal marketing activity.
In the digital arena, the mOne division was created by merging MindShare's mDigital with Ogilvy Interactive. And in sports marketing, a joint venture merged MindShare's BroadMind division with fellow WPP company Global Sportnet.
The as-yet-unnamed division has won sports marketing projects for Ford and Jaguar.
Colin Grimshaw is Marketing's media correspondent. 020 8267 4431, email@example.com.