Recent winners of Marketing's Design Agency of the Year have been small, dynamic agencies that have wowed clients, consumers and the industry with bold packaging designs that have flown off supermarket shelves. In 2005, Landor Associates London kicked back, proving that being big and part of a global network is no barrier to creativity.
In a year of significant growth and achievement for Landor, a highlight has been the powerful performance of its consumer brands offering. The agency set out to strengthen this aspect of its operation and did so convincingly, winning additional and often uncontested brand appointments from existing consumer packaged goods clients including Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo and Diageo.
The result has been an enviable list of brand launches and relaunches that includes Tropicana, Pepsi Max, Nobby's Nuts and Crisps and Potato Heads for PepsiCo; coffee machine Tassimo for Kraft Foods; and Ariel and Daz for P&G.
Ariel, P&G's flagship fabric care brand, last month underwent its first major design change in 10 years, with a new logo and overhauled packaging across the range. P&G does not make changes to one of its billion-dollar brands lightly, so the shift to lifestyle imagery and away from traditional scientific reassurance is significant and a central plank of a major marketing programme for Ariel going into 2006.
The nature of its work for Ariel stands in stark contrast to another major success by Landor this year. Its branding for PepsiCo snack brand Nobby's Nuts and Crisps demonstrates the agency's ability to launch irreverent and edgy brands. Since its launch in April Nobby's has become a £40m brand, the UK's second-biggest food brand launch this year in sales terms, behind PepsiCo's healthier crisp brand Walkers Potato Heads, which was also designed by Landor.
Landor now works across all of PepsiCo's UK businesses - Pepsi, Walkers and Tropicana. This year saw the fruit juice brand's first major overhaul in 14 years as it faced up to new competition in an already crowded market.
Landor introduced wraparound photography, giving the brand a more modern look. Sales rose by 8% to £85m in the year to June 19, according to TNS Superpanel/Marketing Biggest Brands.
On the new business front Landor has had a storming 12 months, with a pitch-to-win rate of 77% that has brought in 15 new projects including HSBC, Danone UK, baby foods giant Numico, KLM-owned travel brand Transavia, and Traidcraft. In figures shown to Marketing, the WPP-owned agency achieved strong growth in 2005 turnover, easily surpassing all growth targets and cementing its position as one of the UK's top five design agencies by turnover.
In an appointment that was viewed as recognition of the strong performance of Landor's London office this year, Charlie Wrench, managing director and president of the EMEA region, was promoted to the global role of president.
The agency quickly secured the services of Cheryl Giovannoni, formerly chief executive at rival Coley Porter Bell, as managing director of Landor London. Her background, working at Ogilvy & Mather and on accounts for clients including Unilever, BUPA and Associated British Foods, should stand the agency in good stead as it looks to build on the success of the past 12 months.
Alongside its management changes, the agency has increased the headcount at its London office by 18% over the past year.
Landor has also been taking steps to broaden the nature of its work, helping organisations as diverse as fair-trade brand Traidcraft, developing branding and packaging for its 60-strong food and drink product line, and Siberia Airlines. Russia's second-biggest carrier, Siberia is engaged in a long-term modernisation strategy. Landor created its new positioning and identity, designing everything from printed materials to lounges and aircraft livery.
The agency has also been helping Diageo with the branding for its Johnnie Walker whisky brand's sponsorship of the McLaren Formula One motor racing team, which it is using to create a more global image.
This drive to challenge itself to do something new, while maintaining its core values of strong, cohesive branding, has been at the heart of Landor's success in 2005.
PREVIOUS WINNERS 2004: Williams Murray Hamm 2003: Checkland Kindleysides 2002: Williams Murray Hamm
BEST OF THE REST
The contenders for the accolade of Design Agency of the Year have undertaken a plethora of interesting and sometimes difficult assignments for their clients over the past 12 months.
Lambie-Nairn had an exceptional year, winning a raft of incremental business from clients including O2 and Sainsbury's. It won a Marketing Design Award for its identity work for the mobile operator.
Moving away from its broadcast background, predominantly creating on-air idents, Lambie-Nairn's recent account wins have seen it broaden its business, with branding work for online travel specialist Expedia and the development of a global corporate identity for Reuters.
Other wins that will come to fruition in 2006 include FIFA. Lambie-Nairn has been developing a series of guidelines for the use of World Cup imagery by sponsors as well as an ident sequence that will be seen repeatedly on our TV screens next summer.
The agency's appointment of Anna Gorman, former head of marketing at BBC News, as business development director should help Lambie-Nairn's drive to pull in new business in 2006.
Jones Knowles Ritchie's expertise in the packaging arena has been acknowledged by soft-drinks company Britvic, which has appointed it to relaunch Tango next year in an attempt to reverse the brand's poor sales.
Now in its 15th year in business, JKR's turnover is up 25% to £10.5m following new business wins that include Durex, Scottish Courage cider brand Strongbow and the global brief for Unilever's Flora. Despite all this new business, most of the agency's growth has come from existing clients such as Britvic's J20 brand and Interbrew's Stella Artois.
Enjoying its fifth successive year of growth, Pearlfisher has won 18 new clients during the past 12 months, including Scottish Courage, which entrusted its famous Newcastle Brown Ale brand to the packaging specialist.
Known as an innovator, the agency has achieved financial growth of 12% this year and delivered effective results for clients including Waitrose and Green & Black's.
Pearlfisher's work for the launch of Waitrose's premium toiletries line umi won a Marketing Design Award and a DBA Design Effectiveness Award for non-food own-brand packaging. The brand has more than doubled sales targets of 20%, increasing Waitrose's share of the supermarket skincare market by 25.4%.
Other new business wins, including Innocent Drinks and King of Shaves, should stand Pearlfisher in good stead in the year ahead.
Last year's Design Agency of the Year, Williams Murray Hamm, won eight of the 14 pitches in which it participated over the past 12 months.
It has also done well on the awards front, picking up two Marketing Design Awards - a packaging gong and the Online and New Media Award, both for its work for GlaxoSmith-Kline's Horlicks.
Unlike last year, when United Biscuits pulled its Jaffa Cakes brief from the agency even though its work for the brand won awards, WMH did not lose any clients this year. Its turnover rose 8% and profits are up 32%.
New business wins include its appointment to the RHM, Reckitt Benckiser and GlaxoSmithKline rosters. It has also won incremental business including the design of the Sainsbury's Organics and Basics ranges.
Still privately owned and managed by Richard Williams, Richard Murray and Garrick Hamm, the agency bought its own building this year, giving the business increased stability.
Elmwood is an agency that goes about its business quietly but highly effectively. Financially, 2005 was a strong year, with turnover increasing 23% to £5.2m, fees up 22% to £33.9m, and profits up more than 100%. It has transformed itself from a regional to a national branding consultancy, opening an office in London, and now, having opened offices in Australia, it has gone international.
The agency has answered criticism that it is too heavily reliant on business from supermarket chain Asda with a raft of recent wins. The addition of 19 clients in 2005 speaks volumes about its progress in building new business, while a BDA Design Effectiveness Award for its brand identity work for Serious Waste Management is testament to its quality.
Earlier this year Elmwood won a brief from Lornamead to reposition iconic hairspray brand Harmony. Key to its fortunes next year could be its work with retailer Boots, when it will work with senior management on new strategies to help the chain compete better on the high street. With two such interesting briefs, Elmwood is an agency to watch in the year ahead.