Culture / 21.12.22 / 4 min read

2022. A creative agency year in review.

As we approach the end of 2022, there’s one feeling for me that trumps all others: pride.

2022. A creative agency year in review.

2022 has been a year of change, progress, and success, and one that has readied our creative agency for a very exciting future. At the heart of everything that has been great is the Mr B & Friends team – a collection of 31 professionals, all with different skills, different personalities, but with a collective and industrial level of ‘give-a-shitness’ to pretty much everything we do and stand for. That type of culture cannot be bought, it must be born and bred and it has helped us to deliver a stunning 2022.

Changing times

It has indeed been a year of change, and without doubt the biggest change was the sad but smooth departure of my friend and business partner Steve Richardson, as he and his family start their new adventure back home in New Zealand. It is always going to be an unsettling time if a business partner leaves, but the strength of our relationship and the team that we have around us ensured that minimal disruption was felt and that we could seamlessly transition the creative agency team under new leadership.

And transition is the right term. The restructuring of the creative team has been one of our core focuses this year and under the leadership of Kate Gorringe, our Creative Director we are building a new team for the ongoing creative challenges our clients engage us with. Significantly this has included the well-deserved and significant promotion to Associate Creative Director for Nathan Crosby, who has performed consistently and brilliantly for such a long time and is now ready to step up as a creative leader within the agency.

The promotions don’t stop there either, in fact over 25% of the agency team, in all departments, have been promoted in the last 12 months demonstrating our commitment to the career paths of all staff.

With Steve leaving, we also strengthened the Senior Leadership Team with appointment of Ellie Wilson as Managing Partner, and promotion for Luke Piasecki, our Agency Performance Director. Both have contributed massively to the successful operation of the company, and particularly Ellie’s appointment has enabled me to refocus my own role on growth, proposition, and agency culture.

Finally, another significant change was our move to our new hybrid designed workplace at Whitefriars. To say that we settled in quickly is an understatement. The space we have is just perfect for our fluid hybrid working model and the team and clients alike love the vibe, the layout and the facilities it offers.

Moving forward

Nothing ever stands still at Mr B & Friends, and 2022 has been another year of great progress!

In June, we were delighted to be able to evolve our industry leading EVP, The Friends Pact. Once again, we introduced and augmented the original package with outstanding benefits and valuable additions. The highlight of which had to be the introduction of Summer, and now Winter hours – all staff now get Friday afternoons off, and this has proved to be a highly valuable benefit which has improved mental health, work/life balance and sentiment towards the agency with no apparent negative impact to the business or our clients commercially.

We also invested into our understanding and action towards a fairer, more inclusive, and diverse agency with the introduction of our DE&I guidelines. This nine-month long project captured learning, best practice, and our own take on how we can position Mr B & Friends as a progressive and fantastic place to work where everyone is welcome.

We also reformed our Agency Growth Team bringing together sales, marketing, and agency leadership with a simple, but powerful growth strategy focusing on three key pillars: careful triaging and response to inbound enquiries, pinpoint targeting of outbound clients through account-based marketing and of course strategic organic growth with existing client business. All of which is designed to achieve thoughtful and careful growth of revenue and opportunities as we move forward. The results to date have been super impressive.

And for those who keep up to date with our plans, you may recall that we are at the start of our expansion plan where we are looking to increase our presence in the US and London leading to the opening of satellite offices in 2023 and 2024 respectively. This is now underway, and we have been out to the US twice in the last three months in preparation, meeting clients, conducting new business meetings, and also working on a market entry strategy. It seems our friends across the pond are very receptive to our talents and way of working so watch this space for more updates.

Success factors

All the above deserves some success, right? Well, it’s been a great year!

First, our revenue has grown in the calendar year by a whopping 34% and this mirrors a raft of encouraging performance metrics that reflect the professionalism in how we run our business. So much of this is a result of the superb client services team delivering a great strategic and creative product.

The Agency Growth Team has done their fair share and has delivered the best new business results in our agency history. New clients that have engaged us in the last 12 months has been impressive too with the likes of The LEGO Group, Persimmon Homes, Haleon plc, Convatec plc, British Canoeing, NHS and Bristol Zoo joining the Mr B & Friends family.

It’s always good for our work or people to be recognised by the industry too, and while we are not a trophy hunting type of agency, it’s always nice to win an award or two and this year we’re delighted to be recognised by the Transform Europe awards.

Most importantly though is that our work is delivering for our client. It never fails to amaze me how we continually push the needle forward each year in terms of our strategic thinking and creative execution. Our agency ethos ‘Challenge the Ordinary’ has really come into play this year as we’ve seen some incredibly challenging and exciting briefs and time and time again, the team rises to the occasion and nails it. And to be honest, without achieving that, absolutely nothing else matters!

Looking forward to 23

So, as I said, it’s with great pride that I wrap up this year.

The Mr B & Friends team has a spirit that’s simply fantastic; driven by commitment, talent, and love for each other, and for what we do, and we take that into 2023 which promises to be our most exciting year yet. There’s no doubt, it’s going to be challenging against a tough economic backdrop, but our platform is strong, relationships are solid, and our agency proposition is first class.

2023. It’s all to play for.

Simon Barbato