The Brand Union

Simon Bolton, Worldwide chief executive officer

Report by Simon Bolton (above)
Worldwide chief executive officer

Following the successful relaunch of the agency in November 2007, our company’s new name, identity and positioning firmly took root in the marketplace and we enjoyed a record year in terms of our financial performance and client business acquisition and retention.

Fuelled with new vigour and an innovative new approach built around the aspiration of Brand Mastery, we won significant new client assignments from companies such as Argos, Barclays, Canon, Ford, Reckitt Benckiser, Merpati Airlines, South African Post, Spice Telecom, Al Hilal Bank and Sorouh.

We also continued to work on major programs for existing international clients delivering a mix of strategic, creative, total brand world and brand engagement solutions for HP, Henkel, Limitless, Mars, Pernod Ricard, SABMiller and Vodafone.

Our external achievements have been amplified by our success in engaging our people in what it means to be a member of The Brand Union and in continuing to strengthen our team at all levels. During the year we appointed Craig Fabian (formerly head of strategy for our London business) as the director of knowledge and training. By the end of the year, most of our senior and middle management had gone through Brand Mastery workshops and systems learning.

open quoteOur focus on creative excellence aligned with first-class strategy has been reflected in a strong showing in this year’s major international and national awardsclose quote

In terms of talent, we continue to improve the bench strength of our network. In October, Ismael Ibnoulouafi (founder of our Paris office) moved to Singapore to head our business across Southeast Asia. His original position in Paris was filled by Stephane Ricou who has struck a formidable partnership with the senior team to build our position in the French market.

Hermann Behrens assumed a broader role in managing the burgeoning Middle East business; the opening of our Abu Dhabi office has been very successful.

In November we appointed Anisa du Plessis as managing director to lead our South African operations, reporting to Anthony Swart (CEO for our African business).

In December 2008, Simon Bailey was promoted to chief executive for our London business. Working closely with Terry Tyrrell and Dave Brown, he has strengthened our performance and offering in the market.

With regards to our reputation, our focus on creative excellence aligned with first-class strategy has been reflected in a strong showing in this year’s major international and national awards including DBA Design Effectiveness, Eurobest, D&AD and Red Dot. We also launched a masters degree, working in collaboration with Goldsmiths, University of London.

As we look to the year ahead, changes in the world economy will present us all with challenges. Brand has never been more relevant and we at The Brand Union have the skills and experience to help our clients, as evidenced by our current work for Bank of America and its merger with Merrill Lynch, and the UK government agency, The Learning Skills Council. In both of these cases we are helping our clients benefit from the value of relevant brand management in recession.