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The Brand Union

Report by Simon Bolton (below) Worldwide chief executive officer

Brand Union

We had a good year, gathering pace in our business throughout the year and showing strong top-line and bottom-line growth. This was in spite of the challenging macroeconomy and most companies continuing to be cautious in their activity planning.

Our growth was principally fuelled by the outstanding performance of our enlarged New York team, improvement across our Asia Pacific network and sustained growth from our multinational business.

Building with our key clients

Three years ago we launched the Key Client Partnership initiative around a number of our forward-looking clients, investing in existing and new service offerings around the world to underpin our mutual growth. Increased business from this collaborative way of working flowed in 2010 from key clients: Bank of America, Ericsson, Henkel, Mars, JTI, Pernod Ricard, Reckitt Benckiser and Vattenfall.

Key Client Partnerships now account for half of our revenues, emphasising a conscious shift in our business from project to relationship mentality.

New client wins

New business wins are the partnerships of tomorrow and we had a strong year pitching and winning new clients. We helped Time Warner Cable re-launch its brand in North America, and also helped Bharti Airtel re-launch its brand across the Indian sub-continent and its extension across 16 countries over the African continent. In India too, our Bangalore office helped GSK restage the giant Horlicks brand.

In the fourth quarter, we were awarded major corporate branding assignments for Sony (led from London), Sorouh (Abu Dhabi) and Prudential (Hong Kong).

Network development

We continue to look for geographic opportunities to build our business with key clients. In February we opened an office in Moscow. The team has quickly added value for key clients such as Henkel, JTI and the St Petersburg-based Russian Museum.

At time of going to press, we announced that we will launch The Brand Union in Bangkok, taking over an energetic team led by Khun Dzovinar Basill, formerly with Ogilvy. They have a venerable client base that includes CP Foods, Boon Rawd (Singha Beer) Brewery and Thorensen.

We continue to explore opportunities to expand our footprint in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

Leadership in motion

We believe that one of the tenets to our successful year has been the transfer of key talent around our network. Toby Southgate has transferred from our New York office to head up our London business, having previously run our Abu Dhabi operation. Alan Couldrey has moved from Bangkok to Hong Kong to become CEO of our Asia Pacific network and Ismael Ibnoulouafi will shortly move from Moscow to London where he will take up the new role of international client service director.

Additionally, we saw the transfer of talent from Dublin to London, and from Dubai to Singapore and New York. These are great examples of our people broadening their international experience for the benefit of themselves, the network and especially our clients.

Awards and recognition

We had another successful year, winning in the major creative shows: Graphis, Red Dot, Clio and DBA. We were the only international branding/design agency to win a Lion in the Design category at Cannes. Our Bangalore office was once again named Agency of the Year by The Economic Times of India. Having earned that accolade from Marketing magazine in 2009, London came in joint runner-up and our Singapore office was strongly commended in Campaign Brief.

From this compelling platform, we look forward to building ‘The Brand Union story’ in 2011.