Media Network of the Year 2016: PHD

PHD secured $4bn in pitch wins, including the huge Volkswagen consolidation, and has also been busy winning awards and expanding globally.

After a stellar 2015, our reigning Media Network of the Year did more than maintain its momentum in terms of new business and standout work. If anything, PHD went up another gear.

The capture of Volkswagen Group’s £2bn consolidated global media is a transformative win for the Omnicom network, even if it already held the Porsche and Bentley accounts.

Sainsbury's Gogglebox campaign

From January, PHD will manage all eight brands for the world’s fifth-biggest advertiser and is adding 500 staff globally to service the business. The VW win formed the backbone of PHD’s strongest new-business year since it was launched in 1990.

PHD secured $4bn in pitch wins in 2016, a 28% year-on-year increase, which the network claims was achieved entirely independently of Omnicom Media Group.

New clients include cruise brand Carnival’s global business ($115m), Delta Air Lines in the US ($103m) and Swisse globally ($35m), and PHD added more markets to its international Ferrero account ($17m).

PHD says it is on course to grow revenue by double digits this year and, according to Recma, has had a "perfect year" for pitching with no losses.

Although it is much smaller than rival networks, PHD attributes its success to being smart and delivering bestin-class strategic thinking. The network also opened nine offices this year – in Egypt, France (Biarritz and Lyon), Italy (Verona), Japan, Lebanon, South Korea, Sweden (Gothenburg) and Uganda – bringing the total to 83.

And PHD performed well on the awards front, picking up 350 gongs during the year. It won four Cannes Lions as the lead agency – second only to OMD among the global media networks.

SparkPHD New Zealand did well at the D&AD Awards, taking yellow Pencils in Outdoor and Direct, and one wood in Integrated. While it made waves last year by addressing the impact of artificial intelligence on marketing, PHD doubled down on efforts to set the industry agenda in 2016.

At Cannes, it partnered Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired, to explore tech trends and set about taking this theme to stages around the world. PHD’s leadership team has remained stable, as Mike Cooper looks towards his tenth anniversary as global chief executive next October.

Mike Cooper, global chief executiveCooper

Last month, EMEA president Hilary Jeffrey was promoted to executive vice-president of the whole network, with her previous role filled by Ian Clarke, central and eastern Europe chief executive of Omnicom Media Group.

In the US, under chief executive Nathan Brown and head of strategy Will Wiseman, PHD saw an acceleration in new-business wins. One of PHD’s key initiatives is its global exchange programme, which gives staff across its network – and, for the first time this year, included new Omnicom network Hearts & Science – the opportunity to work at the London headquarters for a month.

As we have come to expect from PHD, it was also another strong year for creative work. Inspired by a desire to improve the prospects of rural women, PHD India collaborated with Hindustan Unilever to create a mobile "career academy" for detergent brand Rin – it has earned 13 awards to date.

The Hong Kong office created the Bank of East Asia’s first foray into content marketing with a prank video – portraying two celebrities applying for a tax loan – that went viral.

Bank of East AsiaBank of East Asia

London did itself proud with an evolution of the Sainsbury’s Christmas campaign during Channel 4’s Gogglebox by turning the show’s cast into animated characters – sparking fond memories of the award-winning Lego ad break created by PHD in 2014.

The sense that PHD places great stock in continuity is clearly felt – none more so than in the UK, where chief executive Daren Rubins must be credited for another successful year. The UK office stormed this year’s Media Week Awards, played a key role in winning the VW business and picked up Viacom’s £10m account.


Carat was a strong contender for Media Network of the Year, as it was in 2015. It started the year with aplomb, retaining the top spot in Recma’s leading global rankings in March.

The network’s new global president, Will Swayne, was able to boast 10% organic revenue growth across existing clients for the second year in a row – double the rate of its peers.

Carat retained $4bn in billings, including GM’s global business without a pitch, Diageo globally and Kellogg in EMEA. It claims to have picked up $1.5bn in new business, including more markets for Coca-Cola, Beiersdorf and General Motors.

The Procter & Gamble win prompted US chief executive Doug Ray to relinquish his global president role – which Carat insisted was not a demotion given Ray was overseeing the world’s biggest media market. In the UK, Carat took the bold move of hiring Mcgarrybowen boss Rick Hirst as chief executive, signalling its intent to break down silos.

Former UK managing director Matthew Hook was promoted to UK and Ireland chief strategy officer at Dentsu Aegis Network.

Hearts & Science

While it’s too early to have the rounded case needed to win Media Network of the Year, Hearts & Science is worthy of a mention. The media agency landscape received a jolt at the end of last year when Omnicom announced it would set up Hearts & Science to service the P&G US business.

Following its launch in April, AT&T consolidated its $4bn media account into the new network just four months later – an apparent endorsement of the innovative, data-driven approach promised by chief executive Scott Hagedorn.

Hearts & Science’s UK launch was announced in September and is being led by Frances Ralston-Good.

Recent winners: PHD (2015); Starcom Mediavest Group (2014); Group M (2013); Carat (2012); Maxus (2011).

Annual 2016 edition

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