School Reports 2018: PHD

The Lego Batman Movie
The Lego Batman Movie

Type of agency & ownership:  Media agency, owned by Omnicom
Nielsen billings 2017: £524m (+53%)
Declared income: £45.6m (2016)
Total accounts at year end: 95
Accounts won: 11 (biggest: Argos)
Accounts lost: 6 (biggest: Elizabeth Arden)
Number of staff: 288 (+28%)
Key personnel: Verica Djurdjevic, chief executive, PHD UK; Hugh Cameron, chairman, PHD UK; Michael Florence, chief strategy officer, PHD UK; Matt Sanders, chief operating officer, PHD UK; Jon Kershaw, managing director, PHD Manchester
Star player: Jo Battersby, Billie Collins and Leanne Phillipou, receptionists

PHD had a hell of a year when it nearly lost one of its biggest clients in a secret review just as the agency was changing chief executive. The Argos-Sainsbury’s contest was the biggest pitch drama in years as the retailer held a closed process and decided to move its business to data-savvy M/SIX after 22 years with PHD.

Miraculously, parent company Omnicom Media Group lodged an appeal over the way the pitch was run and kept the account. However, it was a mighty shock that suggested PHD needed to raise its game, which, to give the agency credit, it did.

The timing was a nightmare for Verica Djurdjevic, who took over as chief executive after long-serving Daren Rubins left midway through the saga. She did well to keep the ship steady, and it’s worth noting PHD successfully defended other big accounts, including Experian, picked up business from Virgin Holidays, Bet Victor and others, and bedded in the big Volkswagen Group win from 2016. The six account losses, including Elizabeth Arden, were minor. Some of PHD’s work such as "Continuity Bat" for Warner Bros’ The Lego Batman Movie was top-class and garlanded with awards.

Winning the £51.5m Argos business as part of the Sainsbury’s consolidation has given PHD valuable exposure to ecommerce. The agency has also developed a beguilingly simple, audience-led planning process, Rhythms. It won over clients and Discovery@PHD, the unit responsible for Rhythms, was shortlisted for Agency Team of the Year at the Campaign Media Awards.

SCORE THIS YEAR

SCORE LAST YEAR

SELF RATING

7 9 8

Agency's year in a tweet

In a challenging year, we delivered unprecedented annual growth in billings & headcount and did some great work along the way

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

 

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