School Reports 2018: Y&R London


Type of agency & ownership:  Creative agency, owned by WPP
Nielsen billings 2017: £117m (-26%)
Declared income: n/s
Total accounts at year end: 29
Accounts won: 4 (biggest: JD Williams)
Accounts lost: 5 (biggest: Bank of Scotland)
Number of staff: 146 (-3%)
Key personnel: Paul Lawson, chief executive; Emily James, chief strategy officer; Jon Burley, chief creative officer; Mark Roalfe, chairman
Star player: Gillian McCafferty, head receptionist

Few agencies have found life as painful in recent times as Y&R London. In 2016, the agency lost the pivotal Marks & Spencer ad account amid a flurry of other big client losses and had to fend off rumours that WPP was folding it into another agency brand. This didn’t happen, although it did drop the Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe branding from its name.

Now, however, there may be some green shoots of recovery visible at Mornington Crescent. Enter Paul Lawson, the veteran Leo Burnett chief, who joined in November to replace VML-bound Jon Sharpe. Sharpe’s tenure may not be long-remembered, but he can be credited with steadying the ship and bringing in creative supremo Jon Burley. Lawson will now need to draw on all his big-agency experience and reserves of energy to get this agency racing again.

New business was good: there were no major clients lost, and Y&R London captured the £29m JD Williams business – the biggest of four wins (although the retailer subsequently served notice in 2018) – as well as the government’s coveted Th_nk! account.

Burley brought in his longstanding creative partner Jim Bolton to help run a department full of new faces that needs to improve output. Apart from some solid work on major BBC campaigns, inaugural work for the Premier League and JD Williams failed to set pulses racing.

Diversity at the agency is a concern, with only 6% of staff coming from a BAME background, although there have been moves to redress this, such as the appointment of a diversity officer. A sea of similarity is not a good look for an agency aspiring to spark a revival.




4 3 5

Agency's year in a tweet

A solid year. A good new business run, some nice work, lots of lovely new creative folk and a new boss. Ready for 2018.

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


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



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