Karmarama's founder and chief creative of 14 years, Dave Buonaguidi, joined Crispin Porter & Bogusky in 2015, 11 months after leaving amid talk of seeking a life outside agencies.
Buonaguidi’s return to the industry would have been weirder for Karmarama had the agency not been fortuitously placed to make its own star hire in 2015, offering Nik Studzinski a lifeline out of the faltering Droga5 Europe, now London.
Studzinski’s influence was felt almost immediately. He had created award-winning work for the Army when he was at Saatchi & Saatchi in the 90s and it’s no coincidence that Karmarama snatched an Army recruitment brief out of the jaws of J Walter Thompson London in the months after he joined.
The later hire of the executive creative director, Adam Kean, who also worked on the Army at Saatchis, ensured some striking – if not universally lauded – print work in January.
There were a handful of wins in 2015, of which a spot on Unilever’s roster and AO.com were the biggest.
But Karma Communications Holdings is enduring financial difficulties that a few bits of new business won’t fix.
Phoenix Equity Partners, Karma Communications’ backer, restructured its funding after the agency group’s 2014 accounts revealed an £18.5 million deficiency in its shareholders’ funds. Murmurings that Phoenix was scouting for a potential buyer don’t seem so far-fetched in this light.
How the agency rates itself: 6
"We shored up our creative with new a chief creative officer while ushering in new mobile developers, thinkers and data scientists to Nice and Konnect. Our investment in talent paid off with big wins including AO.com and the Army, and standout work for CBeebies and Iceland’s transformative "power of frozen". We were also recognised by The Sunday Times for being the best employer in adland. In 2016, we’re shooting for even bigger and better."
|Type of agency||Integrated creative|
|Nielsen billings 2015||£88m|
|Nielsen billings 2014||£79m|
|Total accounts at year end||32|
|Accounts won||6 (biggest: Unilever)|
|Accounts lost||1 (Virgin Active)|
|Number of staff||248 (+9%)|
|Key personnel||Ben Bilboul, chief executive
Sid McGrath, chief strategy officer
Nik Studzinski, chief creative officer
Jon Wilkins, executive chairman
Liz Wilson, chief operating officer
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.