Lucky Generals is the London-based creative agency founded in 2013 by three former directors of MCBD following its ill-fated absorption into digital shop Dare. It has been something of a critical darling in industry circles ever since its launch - CEO Helen Calcraft is one of London's best known and most widely liked ad executives - yet Lucky Generals' performance has in reality only recently begun to live up to expectations, with a number of small but significant new business wins during 2016, accompanied by generally solid creative output. Nielsen estimated billings of £54m for 2017. Lucky Generals Ltd reported billings of £15m that year and gross profit of £6.5m, with a £0.5m net profit. Calcraft is supported by fellow MCBD-ers Andy Nairn (planning partner) and Danny Brooke-Taylor (creative partner). Katie Lee was appointed as CEO in 2019. The agency's name comes from a saying attributed to the Emperor Napoleon, who wanted not brilliant generals for his army but lucky ones. The trio jointly owned the business until early 2017, when Omnicom acquired it for a lavish payment of £20m upfront plus a 45% shareholding in the existing TBWA\London agency. The partners declined Omnicom's suggestion of a full merger with TBWA London, so for now Lucky Generals operates as a standalone unit within the TBWA UK Group. However Helen Calcraft was appointed as chief executive over the enlarged group. In early 2019, the agency opened its first US office in New York.
Capsule checked 26th September 2018
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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:
Adbrands Social Media 30th Jan 2019: "Not Everything Makes The Cut". Only a couple of days after sneak-peeking some teasers for its Big Game spot, Amazon has released the full version, and it's great. Lucky Generals is back at the helm, working with the retailer's inhouse agency, and the idea builds on the same self-deprecating premise as last year's ad. Technology is great, but what happens when it goes wrong? Last time round, Alexa lost her voice; here are a few other times Alexa didn't work the way she's supposed to. Harrison Ford is the biggest name involved. (When was the last time he appeared in an ad? Has he ever?). Also featured are actor Forest Whitaker, comedians Ilana Glazer & Abbi Jacobson and identical twin astronauts Mark & Scott Kelly.
Adbrands Social Media 5th Nov 2018: "Can You Feel It?". Not willing to allow any significant lead to physical retailers, Amazon is quick out of the gates with its own Christmas campaign, once again from Lucky Generals. It's a bright and happy little film, reprising the singing boxes introduced by the same agency this time last year. Perhaps a bit of added humour, instead of just general good humour, would have been the cherry on top, as with Lucky Generals' splendid 'Alexa Loses Her Voice' Super Bowl spot. But judging by the number of alternative language versions all released at the same time, the challenge this time for the Generals was to find a concept that would work globally rather than just in the US.
Adbrands Social Media 14th Jun 2018: "Cheer for Beer". TBWA's UK creative boutique Lucky Generals are behind this cute promotional stunt for Budweiser. It's a sweet idea: fans in different countries are encouraged to cheer as loudly as possible to win a limited edition World Cup Bud from the vending machine. The loudest cheerers get something even more valuable: a ticket to the event. Nicely done, but we do rather feel we've seen this gag many times before, most notably in the shape of Canadian agency Rethink's beer fridge for Molson (which opened if you said the brew's "I am Canadian" slogan in any one of 40 different languages).
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Apr 2018: Ads of the Week: "Mariah Carey". The whole world knows about Mariah Carey's reputation for being difficult. Even Mariah Carey knows about Mariah Carey's reputation for being difficult. But the hardest of hearts would have to forgive any diva-esque outbursts after this sublime film from TBWA's Lucky Generals agency for Hostelworld. The setup, needless to say, is that Carey's new rookie assistant has accidentally booked her into a hostel - not a hotel - in Barcelona. It's a lovely little film, in which Carey plays up to her acknowledged faults with considerable charm. The Generals have done something similar before for Hostelworld, with such faded luminaries as Charlie Sheen, 50 Cent and Chris Eubank. But MC is their biggest star to-date, and this, in its own modest way, is their finest achievement.
Adbrands Weekly Update 1st Feb 2018: Ads of the Week "Alexa Has Lost Her Voice". Here's the full Amazon Alexa ad from Lucky Generals, and it's just as good as the teaser spot had indicated. When Alexa loses her voice, the only solution - given that this is a Super Bowl ad after all - is to rope in a few celebrities to help out. Needless to say, they don't do quite as good a job as hoped... Unlike British agency Lucky Generals, who bring, we'd argue, a higher level of wit and imagination than was apparent in Alexa's previous Super Bowl spots with Alec Baldwin. It may prove to be a bit too clever for a Big Game audience (given the average quality of a few of the other ads scheduled to run), but we love it. And how great is it that a plucky little UK agency gets to do one of the Super Bowl's biggest ads?
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