WCRS | Engine Group : advertising & marketing assignments

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WCRS was until recently a highly regarded full service agency, based in London. Until 2004, it was part of the Havas-owned Arnold Worldwide network. The agency's management team bought back their independence that year, and WCRS added to its resources with the acquisition of a string of marketing services companies involved in interactive, branded content, sponsorship and direct marketing. Parent group Engine was created as the umbrella for these different units, becoming a broadly integrated group offering a complete range of interlinked marketing services. In 2019, most of the group's various subsidiaries including WCRS were merged under the umbrella Engine name. Recent expansion has revived memories of WCRS's early history. For a while, in the late 1980s, the agency aspired to become one of the world's largest marketing groups. The WCRS international network was later split out to form what is now the entirely separate media services business Carat. In 2014, US private equity investor Lake Capital acquired Engine Group, with a view to building up a new middle-tier marketing services holding company. There have been several restructurings of the collection of satellite businesses in recent years. One of the cornerstone units is CRM agency Partners Andrews Aldridge. More recent additions include creative and digital agencies Deep Focus and Trailer Park, and PR and activation units Slice, Mischief and MHP. Nielsen (in Campaign) estimated billings of £222m in 2017. UK corporate entity Engine Acquisition Ltd reported billings of £113m in 2016, revenues of £89m but a net loss of £3.1m. Lake Capital's Terry Graunke is chairman of Engine Group. Kasha Cacy, previously CEO of UM USA, was appointed as global CEO of Engine in 2018. Engine Creative CEO Matt Edwards announced his departure in 2019 after 14 years with the agency; his successor was named as Ete Davies.

Capsule checked 3rd August 2018

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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Daily Update 26th Aug 2019: "Pirates". Engine has delivered a powerful new movie-style campaign for the British Navy's Royal Marines Commando unit. Like the agency's excellent previous work for this client, it ramps up the dramatic tension with the depiction of a raid on a camp of modern-day pirates. It must be hard to tackle a brief like this without sensationalising or glamourising the work the Marines do. However, this fine little film pulls it off with an admirable level of quiet professionalism, and one smooth camera movement.

Adbrands Social Media 13th May 2019: "GoodBagels". Here it is at last: Robert De Niro's Warburtons ad. The team at agency Engine must have fallen off their collective chairs when the legendary film star accepted their proposal. But here he is, following in the footsteps of Sylvester Stallone, The Muppets and Peter Kay to trade banter with Warburtons CEO Jonathan Warburton. In truth, the ad itself is pretty lame, trading on that hackneyed mafia routine that has defined De Niro's screen personality for two decades or more. (The Peter Kay film was more imaginative). But even so. Robert De Niro. For humble British bakery Warburtons. Who would have imagined it?

Adbrands Social Media 1st May 2019: "The Café". Engine delivers quite a different vibe for Arla UK's second-string butter brand Anchor from the one we're used to for big sister Lurpak (handled by Wieden & Kennedy of course). It's just as entertaining and imaginative, though; replacing Lurpak's slightly posher cuisinary approach with the jolly rough and tumble of your local caff, as befits those two brands' respective price points. Some great digitally enhanced gags too.

Adbrands Social Media 13th Mar 2019: "Get Money Calm". Here, finally, is the long-awaited debut campaign from Engine (formerly WCRS) for price comparison service MoneySupermarket, bringing to an end Mother's years-long incumbency. It's certainly a lot less memorable than virtually any of Mother's ads (even with the parachuting cat), but maybe that's part of the underlying strategy. Until now, MoneySupermarket's ads have been eye-grabbers pretty much just for the sake of being eye-grabbers, without saying anything at all about the product or what it does. There's clearly been a big shift away from that in the market, as Confused.com has already attempted to achieve. Engine's ad follows suit, though the inimitable Matt Berry's voiceover adds just a touch of crazy to the overall mix. Perhaps this will - at long last - encourage a similar shift on the part of CompareTheMarket and GoCompare as well. Can finally bid farewell to those annoying meerkats and cringe-inducing "Gio Compario"?

Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Oct 2018: Engine Group said it will merge its best-known brands WCRS and Partners Andrews Aldridge as well as several other subsidiary agencies into a single integrated entity in 2019. The WCRS and PAA brands will both be dropped. "We know that, increasingly, clients need smart solutions that span disciplines and require different capabilities assembled in new ways," said the group. "The changes we are proposing are about bringing people and capabilities together to meet that client need. We are working to evolve our structure to serve our clients better, so we will be moving to one integrated Engine brand over 2019."

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