Until its merger with Wunderman in 2018, JWT London was long established as one of the giants of the UK advertising industry. Founded in the 1920s - it was J Walter Thompson's first international office - it was responsible for a string of much-loved campaigns for brands including Kit Kit, Polo, Andrex, Oxo as well as BT's much loved 'Beattie' ads with actress Maureen Lipman. It was for years regarded as the country's "university of advertising", launching the careers of many of the industry's leading local luminaries. Several years of strong growth in the early 2000s established it as the country's second largest agency after AMV BBDO. However, JWT stumbled badly mid-decade, losing key accounts like Vodafone and Reckitt Benckiser as well as several important pitches. Another serious blow was the loss of the Kellogg's account in 2010 as a result of global realignment. As a result, billings took a tumble and have never really recovered. As a result, JWT slipped steadily down the annual rankings, finally falling out of the top ten in 2011 (for the first time in its long history). In 2019, it even fell out of the Top 20, despite the global merger of J Walter Thompson with sister network Wunderman to create Wunderman Thompson. It also moved out of its glamorous Knightsbridge location into Y&R's old offices in Greater London House, in North London. For 2020, Nielsen (in Campaign) estimated advertising billings of just £55m, down by a third on the year before, and ranking the agency at #25 nationally. (That doesn't include a calculation of Wunderman's CRM, digital and data billings). The main London agency was traditionally supported until 2018 by Manchester-based Cheetham Bell, when that agency became a unit of sister network Mediacom. Other satellites such as a local arm of dedicated Bayer agency Team Life and digital shop Mirum were absorbed into the main agency. Several of JWT's senior managers departed following the Wunderman merger. The latter's Pip Hulbert was named as chief executive with Steve Aldridge as chief creative officer. For 2019, Wunderman Thompson UK Ltd reported turnover of £20m and a net loss of £2.8m.
Capsule checked 14th July 2021
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Historical profile information for JWT London
Adbrands Daily Update 24th Jan 2020: "Home". Richard Ayoade returns in another delightfully quirky film for HSBC by Wunderman Thompson. Just as its predecessors did before the Brexit knell sounded, the new film sets out to remind us that we are all from somewhere else. Yet the tone of the campaign has subtly changed as the debate over EU membership raged. The first two ads in the series appeared to emphasise our European connections; this and its immediate predecessor appear rather less sure. We are citizens of the world now, not of Europe. Still, the point is well made. Home, after all, is where the heart is, and Ayoade is as always a charming and engaging front man.
Adbrands Weekly Update 7th Jun 2018: Cheetham Bell, the Manchester-based agency that has traditionally served as the Northern outpost of J Walter Thompson in the UK, is being shifted out of that network and into WPP sibling Mediacom. It is moving into Mediacom North's offices in Manchester, although it will retain a separate identity. Andy Cheetham remains as executive creative director and chairman, with Andy Harrison as managing director. However, according to Campaign, both will report into Mediacom North's group managing director Paul Cooper.
Adbrands Social Media 14th May 2018: "Connected Money". The fantastically oddball Richard Ayoade returns to front another excellent campaign for HSBC's UK retail banking business. We would love to hand all the credit here to agency J Walter Thompson London, but we suspect that much of the heavy lifting, at least in the script department, was done by Ayoade himself. He seems like the kind of performer you just point in the direction you require and then let him do his delightfully idiosyncratic stuff.
Adbrands Weekly Update 4th Jan 2018: Ads of the Week: "Global Citizen". The delightfully odd British comedian Richard Ayoade makes a superb front man for J Walter Thompson London's new Brexit-defying campaign for HSBC bank. A misguided 52% of the electorate may believe we would be better standing alone and apart, but at least HSBC recognises that we Brits are global citizens to our very core, even if we don't realise it. A fine ad, and a great (much-needed) return to form for JWT UK.
Adbrands Social Media 10th Nov 2017: "Find Your Fairytale". J Walter Thompson has summoned up all its creative juices for a last burst of imagination for fashion department store Debenhams. Sadly, it's all too late; had the agency pulled off a similar feat last year, they wouldn't be losing the account in the New Year. Even with its Cinderella story steal, we found ourselves unexpectedly charmed by the film, definitely Debenhams best for many years. Some nice touches throughout, good-looking leads, and capped by a pleasing cameo from Ewan McGregor.
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