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 was almost immediately a critical darling in industry circles after its launch - CEO Helen Calcraft was already one of London's best known and most widely liked ad executives - yet in truth it took Lucky Generals a few years to live up to expectations with a number of small but significant new business wins during 2016, accompanied by generally solid creative output. Calcraft's co-founders were fellow MCBD-ers Andy Nairn (planning partner) and Danny Brooke-Taylor (creative partner). The trio jointly owned the business until early 2017, when Omnicom acquired it for a lavish payment of £20m upfront plus what was reported to be a 45% shareholding in the existing TBWA\London agency. The partners declined Omnicom's suggestion of a full merger with TBWA London, so Lucky Generals still operates as a standalone unit within the TBWA UK Group. However Helen Calcraft was appointed as chief executive over the enlarged group. Katie Lee was appointed as CEO of Lucky Generals UK in 2019. That year, the agency opened its first US office in New York, where it has picked up a number of important clients. However arguably its most lucrative customer - Amazon - is led from London. After two years heading the London office, Katie Lee resigned at the beginning of 2021, and was replaced by Cressida Holmes-Smith. Nielsen estimated UK billings for Lucky Generals of £64m for 2019. However, the agency's Amazon campaigns have for several years run in the US as well, not least during Super Bowl. The main agency is partnered by sports marketing specialist Dark Horses, part-owned by Calcraft, Nairn and Brooke-Taylor. For 2018, Lucky Generals Ltd reported billings of £21.3m and gross profit of £7.9m, with a £0.8m net profit. The agency's name comes from a saying attributed to the Emperor Napoleon, who wanted not brilliant generals for his army but lucky ones.
Capsule checked 10th November 2020
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Adbrands Daily Update 20th Apr 2021: "Great Coffee, Made Simple". Talk about stretching a concept to its limits! For Taylors of Harrogate, once a niche coffee brand but now very much in the mainstream, Lucky Generals have taken a standard slogan - 'If Only Everything Was This Simple' - and then run away into absurdity with it. And all just because Taylors decided to put the word Latte on their packaging. We can't fault the Generals for pushing the outside of the envelope - the ad itself is a charmer - but this is one of those identikit concepts that agencies just keep on the shelf as a stand-by, to be brought down from time to time and dusted off for any remotely suitable client. It says literally nothing whatsoever about the product.
Adbrands Daily Update 2nd Nov 2020: "The Show Must Go On". Quite a different style of campaign here for Amazon from UK agency Lucky Generals. In recent years, Amazon and the Generals have tended to go for jolly singalong spots for the holiday season; but this year's could in truth be for almost any advertiser, the Amazon branding is so low key. However, it acknowledges more directly than most of the other seasonal ads to-date the sort of Thanksgiving and Christmas we will be forced to endure this year. French-born but US-based ballerina Tais Vinolo stars. It's a heart-warming story, told with sensitivity and style, designed not so much to sell a particular product (even portable spotlights) but to put a fuzzy halo around the Amazon brand.
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).
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