Agency of the Year: Creative Agency of the Year - Best of the rest

Choosing this year's Marketing Creative Agency of the Year was the closest decision in recent memory. While there has been an obvious choice in the past few years, 2004 has seen a number of sturdy, rather than stellar, performances in comparison. One indication of Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest's solid growth is the launch of a direct marketing arm, building on its existing digital offering. Its claim to fame in 2004 was winning the IPA Effectiveness Grand Prix with O2 and Agency of the Year Award for shops billing under £100m - on its first attempt.

This was just reward for the outstanding rebranding it has done for O2, formerly BT Cellnet, the client that launched the agency three years ago. O2 has perhaps not surprisingly taken the edgy, youth positioning once occupied by Orange, given that VCCP's founders created Orange's strategy when they were still with WCRS.

A small piece of business for Coca-Cola's digital billboard in Piccadilly Circus finally bore fruit when the soft drinks giant rewarded the agency with its hefty Diet Coke business. Other notches on the belt included Hyundai, GNER, Jordans and Dyson.

Over the past five years Delaney Lund Knox Warren has made consistently good performances seem so second nature that it should be noted just how impressive the agency is to maintain such high standards.

This year was another good 12 months, with income up 35%, staff up from 98 to 150 and a 70% pitch win rate that included new business such as the £10m WH Smith account, eBay for its UK TV debut, Ambrosia, Associated New Media and ExxonMobil. The loss of the Australian Tourist Board was the agency's only black mark.

On the innovation front, DLKW Dialogue, its marketing services division, has performed impressively, posting 53% growth and a profit increase of £1m. Paul Biggins, formerly chief executive at Tequila\London, was drafted in to run the operation.

A complex management buyout from parent Havas made 2004 quite a year for WCRS - a close contender for the Creative Agency of the Year award. With profits entering the pocket of Robin Wight and fellow stakeholders, WCRS set about turning its famous 'revolving door' of clients in, clients out into an entrance only. The highlight was winning 3's £38m account, although the jury is still out on the intriguing brand advertising.

Seven other clients, including Phones4u, GlaxoSmithKline's European Niquitin business, Mr Kipling and Conde Nast's Easy Living were won, which will ease the departure of Camelot and, probably, HSBC's First Direct from the balance sheet.

With an eye to turning itself into a group of agencies, WCRS has introduced three initiatives: digital agency Meme, direct marketing operation Personal and non-traditional marketing comms specialists Huge.

Although it chose not to compete in many of this year's big pitches, Bartle Bogle Hegarty still brought in £95m in new business and a 16% increase in client income in the London office. Quieter only compared with its usual lofty performance standards, 2004 was still impressive.

New clients included a chunk of Vodafone's global business and Ladbrokes, while existing clients rewarded BBH with Tanqueray Gin, both Flora/ Becel and Signal/Mentadent across Europe and Britvic's juice brand J20. Creatively, new work has appeared for Levi's 'Anti-fit' line and Lynx, continuing the agency's legacy of producing some of the most impressive and effective campaigns in London.

Succession management planning has seen managing director Gwyn Jones, a BBH lifer, promoted to run the New York office and Derek Robson, Guy Murphy and Charlie Rudd promoted to managing director, deputy chairman and deputy managing director respectively.

The best word to describe J Walter Thompson's year is global. It put last year's loss of Boots firmly behind it by pulling in HSBC and Samsung, the two biggest global pitches of the year. It also attracted strong domestic clients including Kingsmill and Nik Naks as well as the international business for Tourism Ireland.

The review of the Smirnoff Ice account globally was a serious blow, but new executive creative director Nick Bell deserves credit for inspiring creative output and unquestionably saving the main Smirnoff account from the same fate, with the impressive 'Not The Usual' campaign.

The best performer of the big networks, JWT also acted to improve its integrated marketing capability by merging CRM company rmg:connect and sales promotion agency Black Cat to form rmg:black cat, which it them moved to the parent agency's new headquarters in Knightsbridge.


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