School Reports 2015: MEC UK

Royal Navy
Royal Navy

Score: 8  Last year: 6

In February 2014, ahead of the departure of Steve Hatch, MEC’s likeable and brainy chief executive, its chairman, Tom George, stumped for a joint chief executive structure for the agency. Unable to choose between them, George decided Jason Dormieux, the chief operating officer, and Stuart Bowden, the managing director, would share the job.

At the time, some in the industry asked whether having two chief executives was sensible for an agency that had always had strong management. But, with £180 million in new billings this year, MEC is in great shape. The shop did particularly well in international pitches, picking up the owner, BGL Group, Tiffany & Co and Vodafone from ZenithOptimedia, UM and OMD respectively.

There were local successes too, and MEC won the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy accounts on the government roster (from Manning Gottlieb OMD and Carat in turn). And MEC’s Manchester agency won the £11 million business, proving it could compete for the big regional accounts too.

In terms of awards, it was a relatively quiet year – but the shop picked up silver at the Media Week Awards for the EE-sponsored Guardian Witness and gold in Data Innovation. MEC will be hoping to be back in contention for agency of the year gongs in 2015. However, all those new-business triumphs earned the network a place on the shortlist for Campaign’s Media Network of the Year.

MEC had a strong 2014 as it settled into life without Hatch. If it combines its new-business run with some brilliant creative media campaigns, it could stand a real chance in this year’s awards season.

How the agency scores itself: 8

How the agency rates itself: 2014 was a year of growth. We spent 11 months at the top of the new-business league table, winning more than £180 million of net new billings. We changed to reflect our clients’ changing priorities, creating the media industry’s first chief digital officer. We took home 21 trophies, our strategists took four of the seven IPA Excellence Diploma distinctions. We launched our new internal growth manifesto: Don’t just live… thrive.

Type of agency Media
Company ownership WPP
Nielsen billings 2014 £699m
Nielsen billings 2013 £705m
Declared income £54.9m (2013)
Total accounts at year end 218
Accounts won 13 (biggest: BGL Group)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: Seven Seas)
Traditional media 74%
Digital media 25%
Other media 1%
Number of staff 560 (+17%)
Key personnel Tom George chairman
Jason Dormieux joint chief executive
Stuart Bowden joint chief executive
Sarah Hennessy managing director
Paul Hutchison deputy managing director

Score key: 9 Outstanding 8 Excellent 7 Good 6 Satisfactory 5 Adequate 4 Below average 3 Poor 2 A year to forget 1 Survival in question

Footnote: *indicates where agencies claim the corporate governance constraints of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation.


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