Last year, a senior industry expert said: 'If Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw does not win Agency of the Year this year, it never will.' In fact, the agency did win the award, and what's more, it has done it again in 2007.
After such a productive 2006, Kitcatt Nohr could have been forgiven for keeping its head down to consolidate and bed in its new clients. But this year it managed to win more new business than ever, represented in its impressive 70% increase in year-on-year turnover, which rose from £5m to £8.5m, while the agency's total billings now stand at more than £44m.
Among this year's new business wins are brands and charities including John Lewis, The Salvation Army, WWF, Charles Tyrwhitt and technology outfit Sling Media, as well as project work for the RAC, Goldfish and The Carphone Warehouse. Despite this impressive growth in volume, Kitcatt Nohr remains true to its principle that at least one of its four founding partners - Paul Kitcatt, Marc Nohr, Vonnie Alexander and Jeremy Shaw - is directly involved in the handling of each client's business.
The agency has also driven extra revenue from incremental work with existing clients, which include Bookstart, LA Fitness and Waitrose. It's easy to see why. In September, the agency demonstrated some quick-thinking following comments made by the then-Chelsea FC manager Jose Mourinho, who, mired in an injury crisis at the club, made comments alluding to the superior quality of Waitrose's eggs. 'Some eggs are more expensive than others and some give you better omelettes,' he said. 'So, when the Class One eggs are in Waitrose and you cannot get there, you have a problem.' The next morning Waitrose ran a witty press ad thanking Mourinho for his kind words.
This is just one example of Kitcatt Nohr's creative reputation, which was again singled out by the judging panel as being particularly strong. The agency's work is consistently creative and effective. A direct mail and press campaign for Bookstart, for example, combined photography with illustrated characters. As well as being innovative, the campaign was credited with generating a 50% increase in web traffic, while phone enquiries to Bookstart went up by 100%.
Many direct marketing agencies pride themselves on their ability to deliver an array of marketing solutions to meet client needs, and Kitcatt Nohr is at the vanguard of this. The agency's reach was extended with two key investments over the past 12 months: in March, it established a defining moment in its six-year history when it invested in new data consultancy Huw Davis Partnership; three months later, the agency's growth plans took a further step forward when it made a significant investment in media planning start-up agency Trinity Communications, which is headed by Phil Nunn, Simon Timlett and Amy Lennox.
Kitcatt Nohr also continues to develop its digital offering through its own in-house resource, as well as digital agency Underwired, in which it has a minority stake. Underwired has enjoyed a strong year and has refocused its efforts on eCRM and campaign marketing following the departure of planning head Lazar Dzamic, who moved to a permanent role as digital planning director at Kitcatt Nohr in November.
Although the bulk of Kitcatt Nohr's work remains below-the-line, Marketing's judges were impressed by the agency's ability to translate its creative and effective excellence to a number of successful TV ad campaigns this year. It created a series of ads for Virgin Holidays, in association with animation company Aardman, which was nominated for two CIMTIG Travel Advertising Awards. The agency's 'Ever wondered' spots for FriendsReunited were also praised by the panel for achieving a 170% increase in daily registrations to the social networking site.
Winning Agency of the Year once is an impressive achievement. But by taking the honours two years in succession, as well as having been runner-up in 2004 and named among the 'best of the rest' in 2005, Kitcatt Nohr has demonstrated extraordinary consistency for what is still a relatively young independent agency. Who would bet against a hat-trick in 2008?
2006: Kitcatt Nohr
2005: Tullo Marshall Warren
2004: Partners Andrews Aldridge
2003: Harrison Troughton Wunderman