1 Shandwick UK: pounds 25,384,000 - NO CHANGE
It was a year of changes for Shandwick which yet again topped the league
table with a growth of five per cent. It began with the sudden departure
of Shandwick Consultants chief executive Chris Matthews and four board
directors who left to form a rival public affairs firm the Hogarth
Across the rest of the group, which includes Paragon Communications and
Welbeck Golin/Harris Communications, revenue declined by 2.5 per cent in
the first six months and the then worldwide chief executive Dermot
McNulty talked of a ’loss of momentum’.
With Matthews gone, Shandwick Consultants was hit by the loss of
potential new business, rather than the loss of clients. Undeterred,
Shandwick went on to win a raft of client contracts adding to the 20
already gained in 1997. They included Sheraton hotels, Shell Oils, First
Plus Financial, Allied Bakeries and the Triplex Lloyd defence.
Healthcare and hi-tech were among the best performing divisions.
Shandwick’s new broadcast division benefited from the appointment of
Tessa Curtis, former business correspondent at BBC News and Current
Affairs. Shandwick Public Affairs received a tremendous boost when Colin
Byrne, a former deputy to Peter Mandelson, was appointed managing
director of the division. He has built the division into one of the top
New Labour lobbying outfits.
It was in 1998 however, that things really began to change, including
the arrival of a new Shandwick UK chief executive Michael Murphy,
formerly regional director for Asia. Murphy intends to continue the
shakeup in 1998. ’We need to challenge ourselves in everything we do to
remain in the leading position,’ he says.
2 Bell Pottinger Communications: pounds 23,639,000 - NO CHANGE
Bell Pottinger, formerly Lowe Bell, held on to the number two slot for
the third year running with a fee increase of 13 per cent.
A total of 55 new contracts were won across the group. The Finance and
Leasing Association called in Bell Pottinger to handle a massive
lobbying campaign on the Government’s Finance Bill. And the agency
helped restore tourist confidence in Egypt and handled the merger of
General Accident and Commercial Union.
On the down side, Bell Pottinger financial deputy managing director Jem
Miller retired and Bell Pottinger Political’s Neal Lawson and Ben Lucas
quit the company and joined up with former Tony Blair aide Jon
Mendelsohn to form a rival consultancy called Lawson Lucas Mendelsohn.
Three accounts followed them: Orange, Tesco and KPMG. Bell Pottinger’s
holding company Chime acquired the lobbying firm Russell
But the biggest news of the year was Chime’s pounds 20 million
acquisition of the advertising firm HHCL. The marketing services group
WPP played a crucial role in the final negotiations by taking a sizeable
stake in Chime. The deal, which doubled the size of Chime, gives Bell
Pottinger potential access to the group’s global networks Hill and
Knowlton and Ogilvy Public Relations. There are no formal links, but
relations between Bell Pottinger and HHCL may prove to be more fruitful
as a result of the deal.
’It’s early days and we are different businesses by nature but we get on
very well,’ says Chime deputy chairman Piers Pottinger. ’There’s no
reason why we can’t work together.’
3 Hill and Knowlton: pounds 18,753,000 - NO CHANGE
It was another cracking year for Hill and Knowlton. A 16 per cent
increase in fee income may not be as eye-catching as the previous year’s
34 per cent leap, but it was still the highest percentage increase among
the top five agencies.
New clients in 1997 included insurance group AIG, BT Europe, Direct
Line, Gasprom, London International Group, Merck Sharp and Dohme, Cow
and Gate, Schweppes, Whyte and Mackay and Cadbury’s Milk Tray. To
service this increase in business, the number of staff rose from 202 to
243, with a significant minority of the new intake joining H&K’s
well-regarded graduate recruitment programme. ’The calibre of our
graduate intake gets stronger year by year,’ says chief executive David
McLaren. ’We’re seeing the very best graduate talent making PR a first
choice career option.’
The way ahead, says McLaren, is to continue with a multi-specialist
approach - offering clients the sort of expert knowledge found at a
specialist agency, but being able to ’add value’ by bringing these areas
together when desirable. In order to make this clearer for clients, H&K
is putting together a series of ’packaged services’, the first of which
was the Integrated Sponsorship Consultancy launched in October 1997.
Among the few setbacks last year were the loss of networking giant 3Com
and the departure of deputy chairman Alan Ogden to an in-house job at
investment bank UBS.
4 Countrywide Porter Novelli: pounds 17,039,032 - NO CHANGE
CPN managing director Paul Miller acknowledges that fee income growth of
seven per cent overall was ’a little bit disappointing’ but stresses
this figure needs to be put in context. ’If you just look at the core
CPN brand the annual growth is 10 per cent, which is what we set out to
grow by,’ says Miller.
Lacklustre performance from associated companies Affinity PR, public
affairs business GPC and advertising and marketing agency BMP
Countrywide dragged down the overall growth rate.There were some star
performers within the business. Healthcare almost doubled in size,
attracting Glaxo Wellcome’s Allen and Hanbury drugs portfolio and
international pharmaceutical companies Novartis and Collagen.
Environmental communications was another growth area, increasing
business by 25 per cent. CPN is strong in this area, working for clients
like the Association of Plastics Manufacturers in Europe and the
European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers. Elsewhere, significant wins
were Halfords, McDonald’s (marketing support and community relations)
and SmithKline Beecham (worldwide crisis and issues management).
On the staffing side, two people who had joined the company as trainees
almost 10 years previously, were made managing directors of the two
largest offices. Fiona Joyce assumed the role in London and Debbie
Parris in Banbury.
Pippa Evans was also brought in from GCI to head up the consumer
division in London.
5 Dewe Rogerson: pounds 13,062,365 - CLIMBER
This independent group continued to use its specialist knowledge of
privatisations, flotations and financial public and investor relations
to pull in contracts from Energis, Somerfield and the Veriens Bank in
Germany, to name a few.
Fee income rose eight per cent despite the loss of the Reckitt and
Colman business after 20 years and unit trust provider M&G. The agency
was the subject of persistent speculation that it was on the verge of
selling up and, although he admits having talks with WPP boss Martin
Sorrell, Dewe Rogerson executive chairman Tony Carlisle says there is no
deal ... at least not yet.
While the global trend towards privatisation and the growth of financial
products provided ample opportunities, Dewe Rogerson also saw an
increase in ’through-the-line brand work’ for clients like Prudential,
which it executed through its advertising, PR and design units. But
don’t expect any dramatic departure from the large scale privatisation
campaigns in 1998. ’We like sticking to what we know and understand,’
6 Incepta Group (Citigate): pounds 11,433,494 - CLIMBER
A combination of acquisitions and healthy account gains resulted in a 41
per cent rise in the fee income of Incepta’s PR group Citigate. A public
affairs capability was added with the purchase of Westmin-ster
Communications which was then renamed Citigate Westminster.
Citigate Technology gained several big US clients from the acquisition
of the hi-tech specialist Hunt Thompson and the group bought an
insurance PR specialist called RLS. Major wins included Coopers and
Lybrand, NPI and the stock exchange Nasdaq. Citigate also branched out
into ’mainstream issues-led corporate work’ with campaigns like its
three-year pounds 750,000-fee drive to advise the Millennium Commission
on improving its image.
CEO Simon Brocklebank-Fowler pin-pointed healthcare, media and telecoms
and utilities as areas which grew and will continue to grow in 1998. ’We
will always be a financial communications led agency but now we are able
to win business in other areas. We’ve had a cracking start to 1998,
putting on half a million in new fees in the first month,’ says
7 Weber PR Worldwide: pounds 10,417,177 - CLIMBER
The acquisition by advertising and marketing services group
McCann-Erickson of hi-tech specialist the Weber Group in December 1996
and financial and corporate PR firm Ludgate Group in March 1997, has
created a pounds 10 million-plus agency.
Fee income and growth is based on the combined figures of Weber, Ludgate
and McCann-Erickson PR. Ludgate chairman Tim Trotter said: ’All
businesses came in with big performances, in line with
Account wins for Ludgate during the year included Northern Rock,
newspaper group Newsquest and Scottish Life. Weber Group won Cambridge
Display Technology, manufacturer of ultra thin TV screens,Kodak and
Meckler-Media’s Internet World Show. The biggest win for McCann-Erickson
was Continental Airlines.
On the staff side Richard Elsen joined from Labour’s rapid rebuttal unit
to become deputy head of public affairs at Ludgate and Neil Garnett was
appointed from Grand Met in March to head up the corporate division.
’In the last six months, we’ve been able to really drive the
cross-fertilisation between the operating PR companies,’ says Trotter.
Announcements about joint wins are promised soon. Further acquisitions
are also on the cards.
8 Euro RSCG International Comms: pounds 8,146,841 - CLIMBER
There were mixed fortunes for Euro RSCG in the UK as Biss Lancaster and
corporate communications specialist CGI grew fee income by around 19 per
cent but regional network Greenwood Tighe suffered an 18 per cent
Overall fee income for Euro RSCG was up 13 per cent. ’Business to
business showed strong growth, particularly in the areas of IT and
telecoms,’ says chairman Graham Lancaster commenting on Biss Lancaster’s
Among the wins were Butlins, Eurofighter, leasing company Forward Trust,
US clothes retailer Gymboree, and a major international promotion for
Ballantine’s, in association with sister SP agency KLP.
Organic growth from existing clients British Steel, Yellow Pages and
Haagen Dazs contributed to Biss Lancaster’s good performance. Biss
Lancaster’s second brand agency, Sandpiper, also ’had a very good year,’
A major win for Sandpiper was Tefal.
CGI, which specialises in annual reports and corporate identity, worked
with Biss on projects for Forward Trust and Eurofighter.
A period of six months without a managing director and a refocusing of
the business were responsible for Greenwood Tighe’s 18 per cent drop in
fee income in 1997, according to managing director Adam Roscoe.
The agency lost the BNFL account, but had better news in October as it
took on the corporate, national and regional PR account for Bass
Taverns, having handled regional media relations in Scotland and the
North of England for five years.
Refocusing saw Greenwood Tighe concentrating on adding value and moving
towards more consultancy work and national campaigns. In the wake of the
Eurofighter win, Lancaster says: ’This year we’re seeking to grow our
9 Edelman PR Worldwide: pounds 7,127,300 - CLIMBER
The wealth of PR opportunities in the software and telecom market helped
Edelman achieve an impressive 48 per cent growth.
The agency doubled the income of its hi-tech division with contracts
from the mobile phone producer Simoco, environmental technology firm
Engel-hard Environtech and Ericsson. Healthcare also grew, thanks to a
pounds 300,000 contract from Bayer, as well as work from Hoechst Marion
Roussel and Merck Maxalt. It said good-bye to Hayes Microcomputer and
most of the Commercial Union account.
Edelman also lost its European healthcare head, Robin Wright and
European president Michel Ogrizek who left in May to join Unilever as
head of worldwide corporate relations. Ogrizek was replaced by Joachim
Klewes, who formerly owned and ran German management consultancy K
Brain. On the plus side, Edelman gained several senior players,
including Hugo Peel who jumped ship from business-to-business firm ABS
Communications, where he was a director, to become director of property
and professional services. He brought with him two staff and accounts
worth around pounds 250,000.
The most startling departure, however, was that of UK managing director
of Edelman PR Worldwide Abel Hadden who resigned earlier this year.
Hadden’s successor, Edelman’s former head of European technology Tari
Hibbitt, saw two trends emerge in 1997 which she is confident will
continue into 1998 and beyond. These are the ’convergence’ of accounts
or tendency for three or four agency sectors to become involved in a
programme, and the growth of international business.
Hibbitt plans to increase staff numbers from 65 to 100 by the end of
1998 to prepare for this, including finding European heads of
technology, healthcare and consumer. ’We are going to grow a lot in the
next two to three years,’ she says.
10 The Grayling Group: pounds 6,940,700 - CLIMBER
A 17 per cent rise in fee income to pounds 6.9 million together with a
65 per cent rise in profits to an estimated pounds 1 million were
undoubtedly prime factors in the elevation in January this year of
Grayling Group managing director Nigel Kennedy to the board of listed
parent company Lopex.
There were significant changes in the management of the group’s regional
offices, which have underperformed in recent years. Jonathan Reay, the
director of Grayling’s Nottingham office added Birmingham to his
responsibilities, while Chris Davies, erstwhile director of government
affairs at Bristol-Myers Squibb took charge of the Bristol office. Then
at the beginning of this year, Gabrielle Pursey was appointed director
of the Glasgow operation.
’The regional offices have been the focus for quite a lot of my
attention during the past year,’ says Kennedy. ’I’m optimistic that 1998
will be the first good year they’ve had this decade.’
Grayling is also building up its international presence, adding
Singapore to its operations. Client wins last year included industrial
clothing company Alexandra Workwear, vaccine specialist Pasteur Merieux
MSD, Kitten Soft brand owner Fort James, recruitment business HW Group
and project work for the PAGB and British Gas.
The group’s public affairs arm Westminster Strategy also performed
And an Edinburgh-based lobbying outfit, Strategy in Scotland, was set up
to exploit devolution.
Incepta, the parent company of Citigate, last year took a 10 per cent
stake in Lopex but acquisition advances were rebuffed. Lopex itself
acquired hi-tech specialist John Brace and Associates which brought
about pounds 200,000 in annualised fees and clients such as ICL Retail
Systems to the group.
11 Charles Barker BSMG: pounds 6,840,850 - NO CHANGE
An eight per cent growth in fee income to pounds 6.8 million is hardly
earth shattering stuff given the strength of the market last year, but
as much senior management time at Charles Barker was devoted to
hammering out a deal to sell the corporate and consumer agency to US PR
operation Bozell Sawyer Miller Group it is quite understandable.
’Inevitably your eye does come off the ball,’ concedes CEO Tim Sutton.
’One of the problems of doing a deal is that it’s very time-consuming at
But now that the dust has settled, Charles Barker has the support of a
parent company, True North, that owns two advertising agencies -FCB and
Bozell Worldwide - and can call on its resources to build international
On the home front, new business included Barclaycard, FujiFilm and a
publishing brief for Alliance and Leicester. There was work too on the
Independent on Sunday’s campaign to legalise cannabis and tying up loose
ends for Shell on Brent Spar. But after 21 years at the agency in its
various incarnations, out went holiday camp brand Butlins to Biss
The arrival early last year of former Maureen Cropper managing director
Rachel Dalton to head up healthcare signalled the agency’s intention to
step up activity in this sector. Since her arrival, Charles Barker has
expanded its work for pharmaceutical clients from over-the counter
medicines into ethical products for client Janssen Cilag.
13 Text 100: pounds 6,182,486 - NO CHANGE
As Text 100 continued to grow, this time by 21 per cent, the agency
restructured into six business units: consumer, business information,
personal technology, projects, public affairs, and telecoms citi
(computer and internet telephony integration). This move was partly due
to the size of the agency, which has grown to 130 people. ’Lots of
clients prefer the feel of a small agency,’ says UK MD Katie Kemp. The
units are run by associate directors who are responsible for profit,
retaining clients and recruiting staff.
Biggest growth was experienced in the telecom and public affairs
Text won a lot of new BT work, mainly from global marketing. Microsoft
also significantly increased its public affairs work. Ian Howarth was
recruited from Biss Lancaster to head up the consumer division and was
instrumental in winning the Orange account.
Text lost part of its Cisco account because it had a client conflict in
the UK but it retained European analyst work for the company. The agency
also resigned the Acorn account due to a difference in opinion about how
the account should be moved forward.
One of the welcome trends Kemp noticed was the tendency to win business
without pitching for it, thanks to referrals from Text’s other 17
14 Scope Ketchum: pounds 5,673,476 - CLIMBER
’In all, 1997 was a fantastic year, given that we started it with a
merger,’ says chief executive James Maxwell, looking back at the first
year of Scope Ketchum.
Fee income increased by 19 per cent while the client roster shrank
slightly from 47 to 44. ’The Ketchum business had a very large number of
small project clients. We’re focused on working on major clients
in-depth,’ explains Maxwell.
Following the merger the agency restructured, creating eight practice
groups effectively operating as small agencies. ’This worked extremely
well. It’s a structure that’s designed to accomodate growth,’ says
All Scope clients were retained, apart from Halfords, and existing
clients BT, Xerox and Esso all increased their spend. One of the star
performers was the healthcare practice which started the year with
billings of around pounds 350,000 and ended it with over pounds 1
million, winning business from Pharmacia and Upjohn and Janssen.
The sponsorship practice also had a good year handling the Flora London
Marathon for the first time and picking up two awards - best European
sponsorship for Teachers Whisky in the Hollis awards, and an ABSA arts
sponsorship award for Allied Domecq and the Royal Shakespeare
’We also benefited from the first year of being part of Ketchum and
Omnicom through international client referrals,’ says Maxwell.
Pan-European clients included FedEx and the Meat and Livestock
Having started the year with a new management team there were no senior
appointments, except for Serena de Morgan who was promoted internally to
the board following the decision of Karen Croft to go freelance.
15 Freud Communications: pounds 5,504,383 - CLIMBER
Freud’s figures were boosted last year when its parent, advertising
group Abbott Mead Vickers (AMV), bought luxury goods PR specialist
Aurelia Public Relations for a maximum consideration of pounds 4.25
’We recognised that potentially Aurelia had the same opportunities we
did to create serious business out of a niche market,’ says Freud
chairman Matthew Freud on the deal. As part of the new relationship
Aurelia has access to the resources and support structure of the AMV
group but is being allowed considerable freedom.
Separate figures for the two PR agencies show that Aurelia grew its fee
income by ten per cent last year to pounds 973,119, while Freud achieved
growth of 19 per cent on fee income of pounds 4,531,264. ’Our growth was
due almost exclusively to the development of existing clients,’ says
Freud. ’When you expand your portfolio with clients who have already
seen your work it’s the ultimate endorsement.’
Among the big names to give Freud more business were Elida Faberge which
switched its pounds 390,000 Sure Deodorant account from
Burson-Marsteller and PepsiCo Restaurant Group which asked the agency to
handle Pizza Hut and corporate and crisis work in addition to its
existing work for KFC.
’Our media business, which had been fairly flat in 1996, reignited in
1997,’ says Freud. Freud says that there were no major losses, but the
agency did part company with Nickelodeon and Segaworld.
16 GCI Communications: pounds 5,109,100 - CLIMBER
Following growth in fee income of 23 per cent in 1996, GCI had another
very good year, growing fee income by 25 per cent. ’There was
exceptional growth in financial services, healthcare and technology,’
says managing director Adrian Wheeler.
All groups won a lot of new business as GCI grew its retained clients
roster from 49 to 66. Professional and financial services won Barclay’s
Life, Teachers Assurance and law firm Cameron McKenna. A new technology
division was formed headed by Caroline Randle who was recruited from Fox
Parrack Fox. Business came from Lexmark, Nokia Display Systems and
business software company Scala. In the consumer arena, the highlight
was winning the Camel Trophy account. The trade marketing division won
pan-European work from glass and derivative products manufacturer Dow
Corning Construction, and public affairs company APCO was appointed by
Boeing and Polaroid.
Wheeler says there were two losses that hurt - RBS Advanta which
appointed a new head of communications, and BAT which rationalised all
its sponsorship into Edelman.
The agency achieved Investors in People in just a year and was one of
the first to qualify for the PRCA Consultancy Management standard.
17 College Hill Associates: pounds 4,647,827 - CLIMBER
Last year Robert Leach left College Hill for Shandwick after two years
on its board, but by way of compensation there was of plenty of talent
drawn to the financial and corporate agency. Former Ludgate managing
director Tony Friend arrived in 1997, as did former City Marketing
director Simon Astley, and Pam Atherton, the ex-editor of Pensions
There were few new issue assignments, according to chairman Alex
Sandberg, but a number of MBOs and M&As kept the transactional side of
the business ticking over. About 80 per cent of fee income comes from
College Hill’s retained client base, which is a major reason why it has
enjoyed solid and relatively consistent growth throughout the 1990s. A
16 per cent hike took it up two places.
Financial services has been identified as an area for growth and a win
in this sector was Zurich Life. Other new clients in 1997 included
Monument Oil and Gas, the English First Division Rugby Campaign, Lonrho
Africa and the demerger of SGB from John Mowlem.
Sandberg claims to be delighted with College Hill’s current
It has no debt, is independent of any advertising agency or marketing
services group and has no external shareholders. ’We’re rather
comfortable,’ he says. ’We’re paddling our own canoe with some
18 Fishburn Hedges: pounds 4,542,006 - CLIMBER
According to chief executive Neil Hedges, for the first time last year
Fishburn Hedges picked up a significant piece of new business (BT)
through FH’s parent, advertising agency AMV. But as last year’s 16 per
cent rise in fee income follows a 22 per cent hike in the previous year,
it seems that although any future business generated through the
connection with AMV will be welcome, it is hardly essential.
Areas of expertise that the corporate and financial agency is looking to
develop include pensions, professional services, property, public
affairs and internal communications. Last year the consultancy carried
out an internal communications programme for Nuffield Hospitals while
the arrival of senior consultant Ann Rossiter - a former adviser to the
minister responsible for pensions, John Denham - added further financial
Among the wins were US investment bank JP Morgan, Swiss reinsurer Swiss
Re, pensions client Pearl Assurance, London Academy of Music and
Dramatic Art, Goldfish credit card, computer company NCR, BAA Group
Properties and the National House-Building Federation, which came to
Fishburn Hedges after its head of communications Liz Male joined the
agency as a senior consultant.
Meanwhile BG (formerly British Gas) hired the consultancy to design and
manage its annual reports and there was work for the Government on the
controversial new Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs).
’The essential ingredient to successful growth is being able to retain
our people and recruit good new people,’ adds Hedges.
19 Harvard PR: pounds 4,314,000 - CLIMBER
Harvard moved into the top 20 with fee income growth of 20 per cent.
’This growth was achieved despite a strategic reduction in new business
activity for the first six months of the year,’ says chief executive
’Following high growth in 1996 we invested significantly in training and
development and information resources to allow us to continue to provide
the best service possible for our clients. The second half of the year
saw us reap the benefits of this prudent policy with a number of major
new client wins,’ Taylor explains.
Growth was even across the board for Harvard’s three principal areas -
healthcare, technology and leisure. Among the major wins were German
software company SAP which gave Harvard a six-figure account to raise
awareness outside the IT departments of corporate users and build
corporate strategy. Agfa charged Harvard with publicising its range of
digital cameras, while Merck Pharmaceuticals called in the agency for a
women’s health campaign. The agency also launched the Nintendo 64 games
console and the Psion Series 5 handheld computer.
Reported losses were Proteon which was bought by Compaq, a competitor to
one of Harvard’s existing clients, and Community Network Systems.