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Adam&Eve DDB (UK)

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Currently London's most admired agency, Adam&Eve DDB was created in 2012 from the merger of the existing DDB London office with fast-expanding independent Adam & Eve. Despite a long-established reputation for creative excellence, the performance of the London outpost of DDB Worldwide had declined significantly since the mid 2000s. Under its previous name of BMP DDB, it was the four-times recipient of Campaign's Agency of the Year award. However, the agency struggled during 2006 with management problems and a string of account defections. Stability was restored in 2007, but although its creative output remained strong, the agency seemed unable to restore its lost billings. It continued to tumble down the UK agency rankings, ending up outside the Top 20 for 2010. It bounced back briefly in 2011 before losing two big accounts at the end of the year. Those concerns were finally erased with what was effectively a reverse takeover of DDB London by the Adam & Eve management team. The merged Adam&Eve DDB has retained a position ever since as UK's most successful creative agency, winning an unprecedented four Grand Prix at the 2014 Cannes Lions festival, and several more in the years since.

Clients

Click here for an Adam&Eve DDB London client listing from Adbrands Account Assignments

Competitors

see ranking of Leading UK Agencies

Brands & Activities

Adam&Eve DDB scored a notable triumph at 2014's Cannes Lions Festival, collecting an unprecedented four Grand Prix, three of them for its Christmas 2013 campaign for upscale retailer Harvey Nichols, as well as several metal Lions. That combined booty made it Agency of the Year overall at Cannes, and also earned it the same accolade in Campaign's end of the year round-up. In the Big Won creative rankings for 2014, which combine results from all international competitions, Adam&Eve DDB was the #2 individual agency overall, and the only DDB outpost among the Top 20. The Gunn Report rankings placed it at #3 worldwide. It was named as Agency of the Year in both Campaign and The Drum for 2014 and International Agency of the Year in Ad Age. Another storming performance during 2015 earned a similar set of accolades, including a second consecutive year as Campaign's Agency of the Year, and a climb to joint second place worldwide in The Gunn Report round-up. The awards season for 2016 kicked off with a third consecutive win of the IPA Effectiveness Grand Prix (for John Lewis) as well as Effectiveness Agency of the Year. Another haul of major awards headed A&E DDB's way in 2017, followed by selection as Campaign's Agency of the Year for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year.

Adam & Eve had already established itself as one of London's most dynamic new creative agencies by the beginning of 2012. Founded in 2008 as a breakaway from RKCR/Y&R, both leading UK trade magazines named it their Agency of the Year in 2010. However it delivered its most impressive performance to-date in 2011 with a strong new business record and a Christmas campaign for retailer John Lewis that was one of the year's most admired. In May 2012, the business was acquired by Omnicom (for a sum reported to be up to £60m) and merged with DDB's struggling London office, previously Boase Massimi Pollitt.

The deal with Adam & Eve was effectively a reverse takeover, with the smaller agency's management team installed at the head of the merged business. Since then, the agency has continued to go from strength to strength. Creatively, it has few equals, as its impressive collection of trophies bears witness. Combined billings for 2014 were estimated by Nielsen (in Campaign) at over £250m, pushing the agency up to third place behind AMV BBDO and McCann. It retained that position for 2015, with an increase in billings to £270m. Key clients were Halifax, Unilever, John Lewis Partnership and Volkswagen.

The agency maintains a small collection of satellites, of which the most significant by far is the local outpost of digital network Tribal. In 2013, A&E DDB launched its own inhouse content development division under the name Cain & Abel. Gutenberg Networks is DDB's global production division. Healthcare agency DDB Remedy operates independently of the main agency and is a partnership with local Omnicom-owned healthcare agency Leavold Pollard Bardsley.

Financials

DDB UK Ltd is the parent company for Adam&Eve DDB, Tribal London and also production arm Gutenberg. Combined billings jumped by more than a third in 2014, and then by 9% in 2015 to £165.3m. Revenues were up 16% to £70.6m. Net profit rose 12% to £8.6m. Average staff numbers were 486 people.

DDB UK Investments sits above DDB UK Ltd and also consolidates results for healthcare agencies Synergy, DDB Remedy and a part-share of CDM Europe. It reported gross billings of £184m in 2015, revenues of £87m and net profits of £7.2m.

In 2015, DDB UK Investments noted in its statutory accounts that an earn out payment in excess of £50m would fall due to former shareholders of Adam & Eve Group Ltd in 2017. The long-term future roles of Murphy and Golding are still as yet unclear. In theory, they were free to depart Omnicom altogether following the end of their earn-out period in 2017, despite securing a deal to establish Adam&Eve DDB as a separate global strand under the DDB umbrella. Jon Forsyth was the first of the four founding partners to depart in 2017, and group managing director Russell Hopson resigned in Spring that year to join M&C Saatchi in Australia. Ben Priest announced plans to depart the group by June 2018.

Background

Adam & Eve was launched at the very beginning of 2008 by three senior executives who had jumped ship from WPP's RKCR/Y&R agency the previous summer. James Murphy had been CEO of RKCR/Y&R, and he was accompanied by creative director Ben Priest and planning director David Golding. Jon Forsyth joined soon afterwards from Naked. The new agency got off to a cracking start, collecting a string of important accounts during the course of the year. The cherry on top came in the form of retailer John Lewis, which joined the roster early in 2009. The strong start compensated for a bruising legal battle that was raging behind the scenes with former employer WPP, who argued that the founders had breached the terms of their employment contracts by approaching former clients while on gardening leave in the second half of 2007. Murphy, Priest and Golding were eventually forced to acknowledge their cheek, settling out of court for an undisclosed sum and a humble apology.

The fledgling shop began to demonstrate its creative strength for the first time during 2010, not least with a widely admired Christmas campaign for John Lewis. That set the tone for the superb year that followed in which outstanding creative work and a succession of new business wins earned Adam & Eve the honour of being named Agency of the Year by both the UK's leading trade magazines. The agency also strengthened its position with the creation of Eden, a planning & buying joint venture with media independent The7Stars. The agency has continued to build upon those successes with a series of additional accounts - including its biggest ever win with Halifax - and consistently strong creative. For 2011, billings almost doubled, according to Nielsen/Campaign's estimates, to £80m.

In May 2012, Adam & Eve agreed to be acquired by Omnicom for a sum reported to be up to £60m. It merged with the ailing local office of DDB to form Adam & Eve DDB. A&E's management team took control of the merged entity.

Last full revision 16th November 2016

* Archive page for historical reference only. This profile is no longer being actively updated. See active page here *


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