School Reports 2017: Y&R London


Score: 3
Last year: 2

How the agency rates itself: 5

2016 was the final year of the Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe agency brand before it shed the names of its founders to become Y&R London in January 2017. Chief executive Jon Sharpe and remaining founder Mark Roalfe will be hoping that the change of name will be accompanied by a change in fortunes for a business that has been down on its luck for too long now.

It is difficult to imagine a more painful account loss than Marks & Spencer’s move to Grey London after a pitch among WPP shops in the summer. The agency that created such fame for M&S – including the classic "food porn" ads – was cast aside despite the retailer’s struggles in recent years having little to do with its advertising. Y&R also lost Premier Inn, while the last of its Lloyds Banking Group business, Bank of Scotland, went to Anomaly this month.

After losing Lloyds Bank, Land Rover and Vodafone in 2015, Y&R could have done with keeping a clean slate this year. The agency claims to have grown revenue and profit ahead of budget every quarter in 2016, which must have helped keep staff numbers steady despite the account losses.

There were some new-business successes. The shop picked up work for household names such as the Premier League and Chanel, and retained a place on the prestigious government roster. Work highlights include its swansong for M&S, "Christmas with love", which was arguably one of M&S’s most memorable Christmas campaigns in recent years, as well as a visually arresting film to promote the BBC’s coverage of the Rio Olympics.

The new-look management team formed during the course of 2016 includes former CHI & Partners creative chief Jon Burley, chief strategy officer Emily James and managing director Priya Patel. It will be fascinating to see whether Sharpe is capable of leading this team to deliver great things in a post-M&S 2017.

How the agency describes its year in a tweet

Our turnaround has begun. A new management team, new clients and a new purpose. More to come in 2017.

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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