School Reports 2017: Initiative


Score: 3
Last year: 2

How the agency rates itself: 7

IPG Mediabrands has faced an uphill struggle in getting Initiative to live up to its name over the past couple of years – and the evidence of 2016 shows there is a lot more work to do as the agency adapts to life after Tesco.

Initiative employed more than 120 people two years ago before Britain’s biggest supermarket pulled its account. Now the agency is down to just 54 staff, having cut the headcount by 36 in 2016 following the loss of 33 people the preceding year.

More change is on the way as Sally Weavers, the well-regarded managing director, has announced she will be stepping down in April after three-and-a-half years to launch her own consultancy, Godmother.

Caroline Foster Kenny, who became chief executive of IPG Mediabrands in EMEA in February, will hope the parent company can give her the power to generate some momentum, particularly as the group has been performing better in its US home market.

International accounts, notably Amazon, have sustained Initiative here. Boeing and Harley-Davidson were among the notable wins in 2016. However, Amazon’s Audible moved its business during the year – the only account loss the agency has declared.

Initiative has been seeking to freshen things up through schemes such as year-long apprenticeships for young workers and Initiative-branded coffees, with the company’s name written in chocolate on the froth.

But if Initiative still has a mountain to climb to regain its status as a top-tier agency, at least some of the team have shown they have physical stamina. A group of staff managed to scale Mount Snowdon in November. They need all that determination – and more.

How the agency describes its year in a tweet

Confidently getting on with business. Strong client partnerships. Loyal staff. Great culture.

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

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