School Reports 2011: Agency Republic

Recent Agency Republic work: Jose Cuervo
Recent Agency Republic work: Jose Cuervo

Agency Republic endured a nervous first six months of 2010 as it awaited the outcome of a contest for its O2 digital account. The news, when it came, wasn't good. After eight years as the incumbent, the agency suffered a major blow when it lost the business in June.

Score: 3

Agency fact file: Agency Republic
Type of agency Digital
Company ownership Omnicom
Key personnel Matt Kwiecinski chief executive
  Jane McNeill chief operating officer
  Alistair Millen strategy director
  Alistair Campbell executive creative director
The Nielsen Company billings 2010 £0.15m
The Nielsen Company billings 2009 £0.14m
Declared income £7.8m (2009)
Total accounts at year end 14
Accounts won 2 (biggest: Activia)
Accounts lost 1 (O2)
Number of staff 60 (-40%)

This led to speculation, which has thus far proved to be wide of the mark, that Agency Republic would struggle to survive the loss. While Jane McNeill, the then chief executive, was forced to make some drastic cuts (the agency's headcount was slashed by 40 per cent to 60), this ensured its future and also meant that it was able to invest in improving its technology.

Since then, McNeill has moved to the new role of chief operating officer, allowing the managing director Matt Kwiecinski to step up to the chief executive role in January. Separately, the executive creative director, Gavin Gordon-Rogers, resigned from the business to look for a new agency (he was replaced by the WCRS&Co digital creative director, Alistair Campbell, early in 2011).

The agency's new-business record appeared unremarkable - it landed the Activia account and also the Diageo shopper marketing business, but this didn't come close to compensating for the loss of O2.

Agency Republic continued to produce solid work for clients such as Sony PlayStation, EA and Diageo but its most notable work was for the Tequila brand Jose Cuervo (for which it handles UK digital advertising). The integrated campaign included a social media competition that offered four friends the chance to star in a film in Mexico.

The agency has made strides to turn around its fortunes with a new-look management team (supplemented by new appointments including John Streit from Carlson, Nic Goodall from Dare and Tom Coles from Make Digital). In 2011, much will depend, though, on the impact made by Campbell as the agency looks to rediscover its direction.

Score last year: 6

How Agency Republic rates itself: 6

This was a year sent to challenge us and make us stronger. We've restructured, invested in our strategic and tech capabilities, bolstered our R&D programme and seen new business roll in via organic growth and pitch wins. And we've continued to bring home the awards. 2011 sees us enter our second decade with several pitches already under way, a match-fit team and a strong sense of excitement.

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