CorpComms Awards

Agency of the decade – gold 2015

Ketchum London was created in 1998 when two iconic British agencies Lynne Franks and Scope were brought together under the ownership of American fi rm Ketchum. During the deliberations about how to manage the integration, the bosses asked themselves two questions. How can we retain the cultural strengths of each agency? How do you make an American business successful in London?

Their conclusion was that it was necessary to make Ketchum London a physical manifestation of the belief that PR can be a force for good, and put the business at the heart of a global agency.

Its success in achieving these goals has seen Ketchum London grow fee income by 66 per cent over the past ten years, become home to two of the biggest clients in its global network and internationalise its business to the point where around 60 per cent of its work is now overseas.

The heart of its strategy is about championing creativity. For example, when FedEx started to ship pandas around the world to major zoos, such as Edinburgh, to help with breeding, Ketchum London created the Panda Express to promote the initiative and provide an insight into how pandas are transported. To test the effi cacy of the Philips Wake Up light, the agency lit up Longyearbyen, the northernmost town in the Arctic Circle, which does not see sunlight for four months of the year, to see if residents woke up happier on dark winter mornings.

Interactive imagery, based on the Northern Lights, reflected their emotions on waking, while a specially created Facebook page allowed people to connect directly with the residents.

Ketchum London was one of the fi rst agencies to build a creative supply chain, employing writers, designers, music producers and fi lm makers. But it also invests heavily in its people, allowing them unique opportunities to travel anywhere in its network to share knowledge. It has been ranked a Top 50 employer nationally for nine consecutive years by the Great Place to Work Institute UK.

Believing that if you want to hire people capable of changing the world, they have to opportunities to make a difference, Ketchum London holds an annual CSR month of activities, regular community activities and makes certification in ethical business practices mandatory for everyone.

It has also worked hard to develop a strong pipeline of women leaders: its chief executive is Denise Kaufmann and eight of its 14 leadership team are female.

But Ketchum London is also keen to work with the wider industry to promote ethical behaviour and collaboration. Many of its executives are active in industry trade bodies, such as UK chairman David Gallagher, who is a former chairman of the PRCA, the current president of ICCO and chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Media.

Its six year One Voice Partnership, with agencies such as Fleishman Hillard and Emanate, serves as a blueprint for how agency collaboration can deliver integrated communications on a global scale, while its annual Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor was the first study to reveal a direct link between leadership communication and commercial outcomes.

It is shared widely within the industry and among peers.

Over the past ten years, Ketchum London has worked with some of the world’s leading businesses and has seen its fee income grow from £14.8 million to around £24.5 million in 2014.

This article first appeared in issue 101