Suitable Award Winners

By The Drum | Administrator

October 29, 2003 | 10 min read

In an industry where creativity is forever seen as the benchmark on which an agency is judged, the people in suits who are steering the business to its success are often forgotten. Never one to turn a blind eye to injustice, Adline dared to mix business with pleasure, inviting the unsung heroes of the industry to the coveted Adline Agency Business Awards. So a rich bevy of guests congregated at Manchester’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on 16 October for the gala dinner and awards.

Also known as the “Suit Awards”, the important accolades are designed to highlight the players who have made great strides in the industry, raising the bar of entrepreneurship and achieving great success in the past 12 months. By identifying the great and the good, Adline aims to make life easier for clients wanting to make best use of their marketing budgets.

Because of a thorough selection process, clients would be wise to take heed of this year’s nominees and winners when drawing up their pitch lists, as each member of staff and agency that has been commended or awarded are worthy of their rewards. This time round, a winning recipe consisting of market research from MRUK, financial analysis by Neilson Media Services and a pinch of editorial input all helped cook up a list of awards to suit most palates just fine.


While tightened purse strings and stretched budgets have dictated the year that was, Adline has sought the agencies and their hard working staff that have managed to buck the trend. The biggest awards of the evening are those rewarded with a hatstand. The iconic Hatstand prizes are reserved for the Advertising Agency of the Year and the Media Buying Point of the Year.

In a year that saw them win the £8m advertising account for W.M. Morrison as well as the £14m Pritt portfolio, this year’s Advertising Agency of the Year award was presented to BDH\\TBWA. While nominees, Barrington Johnson Lorains, PWLC and Rees Bradley Hepburn have all celebrated major account wins and continued success, BDH\\TBWA’s achievements secured them the victory.

Universal McCann, MediaVest and Mediaedge CIA were all nominated for the illustrious Media Buying Point accolade, but after various surveys and research and hours of editorial discussion, MediaVest was chosen as the recipient of the award. Having enjoyed a superb new business run and having the support of the industry, the hatstand will sit proudly in the halls of MediaVest HQ.

Client Poll

The cornerstone of this year’s awards is bestowed upon the results of three polls – Client Poll, Peer Poll and Financial Poll. The Client Poll began with a shortlist of agencies, which were sent out to Market Research UK, which then contracted a survey to measure customer satisfaction. The poll covered five strands, on each of which each agency was judged by a sample of its clients. The value of keeping clients happy and providing a good service is priceless – in the current economic climate, client retention is as important as winning new business. In joint third place in the poll were Clear Marketing and Dig for Fire, in second place was Propaganda, but the winner of the Client Poll award was Vi’vid. The Warrington-based agency scored consistently across the board and potential clients will no doubt be encouraged by the award.

Peer Poll

Each agency has its own ideas on who it considers to be the best agencies in the country. In the Peer Poll, agencies were asked to list the three agencies they most admire. Each agency voted as a third favourite received one point, each voted second received two and each voted as a favourite agency received three. From this, a list was drawn up of the top ten agencies as voted by industry peers. The top three of these are Barrington Johnson Lorains in third, BDH\\TBWA in second, with LOVE walking away with the award.

Financial Poll

In the Financial Poll, Neilson Media Research was drafted in to provide up-to-date billings covering the period up to August this year. The survey identified a top five, all of whom have managed to keep their head well above the water. A strong business rests on its financial success and any client looking to spend big will be keen to take notes of well-run agencies. In fifth place is Bray Leino, in fourth is BDH\\TBWA, in third is PWLC, The Publicity Bureau came in at number two and the survey identified CheethamBellJWT as having the strongest company financially.


In the regional awards, PWLC pipped Brahm and Poulter Partners to the Yorkshire Agency of the Year award. From a standing start a couple of years ago, PWLC has emerged as one of the strongest agencies in the UK.

North West

In the North West Barrington Johnson Lorains and McCann-Erickson Manchester were commended, while BDH\\TBWA took home the award. As the winner of this year’s Advertising Agency of the Year award, BDH’s new business run has cemented it as the region’s most successful agency.


Rees Bradley Hepburn held off competition from Big Communications, McCann Erickson Central and McConnells to take home the Midlands Agency of the Year award. RBH has had a busy year, picking up the Hyundai account and producing the campaign to launch Birmingham’s Bullring.


In the South, Bray Leino cemented its position in the region, fending off tough competition from BCLO and JJ to take the award. Bray Leino has had a solid year, winning new business and continuing to elevate the Extra brand for Wrigley.

North East

And in a close race, Different was heralded as North East Agency of the Year over Guerilla and Robson Brown. Different has become renowned as a highly creative and potent agency that continues to raise the profile of the North East agency scene.

Planner of the Year

The winner of the Planner of the Year award was Ian Mitchell of Barrington Johnson Lorains. His attention to detail, flair for his craft and extensive knowledge singled Mitchell out for the award. Danny Herbert of Rees Bradley Hepburn and Jo Sass of Sass Panayi, whose hard work and talent earned them nominations, were pipped to the post for the award.

Account Handler of Year

Big Communications’ Rachel Withington won the Account Handler of the Year award. Withington’s continued good work and dedication at one of the most impressive Midland’s agencies was enough to see her overcome strong challenges from Viv’id’s Holly Costagon, Cogent’s Helen Fazakerley, Clare Hampton of Different and Louise Muir of Like a River.

Production Manager of the Year

Production Manager of the Year went to Like a River’s Joe Pearson, whose strong-minded approach and talent has earned him the respect of the industry. Rob Drury at Rees Bradley Hepburn, Len More at Different and Ann-Marie Glennan of Barrington Johnson Lorains were all nominated for the award after a year of hearty dedication and excellent work.

Media Buyer of the Year

Mediaedge CIA’s Simon Price received the Media Buyer of the Year award. Price’s motivation, talent and substantial contribution to another successful year for the agency warranted him the accolade. Also nominated for the award were Charles Reed of MediaVest and Nick Stewart of Feather Brooksbank.

Media Agency Head of the Year

In the prestigious Media Agency Head of the Year category, MediaVest’s Andy Jeal and Brilliant’s Dave Moutrie were pipped to the post by Mediacom North chief Andy Bartholomew. Through leading the agency to good times enjoying a prosperous year in business, Bartholomew has earned the respect of his colleagues and contemporaries.

Advertising Agency Head of the Year

Barrington Johnson Lorains’ Mike Barrington won out in a tight battle for Advertising Agency Head of the Year over Tim Rees of Rees Bradley Hepburn. Both have had excellent years, picking up major accounts and continuing to develop their agencies into highly successful businesses. Barrington is seen as a great ambassador for the Manchester advertising scene and was chosen by the judges to pick up his well-deserved award.

Client of the Year

The winner in the Client of the Year category provides irrefutable evidence that there is not only life outside London, but also an abundance of good agencies and some of the most creative minds in Europe. Alliance & Leicester’s decision to move its £29m media account to MediaVest in Manchester and charge PWLC with a £4m piece of business helped to make the firm the worthy winner of this award.

Ones to Watch

While so many agencies flounder in the intensified pressure incurred by the industry’s current climate, it’s with great pleasure that Adline was able to reward three agencies whose foray into the industry has begun so brightly. The winners of the Ones to Watch category have been pinpointed for their outstanding potential. Air Advertising was presented with the accolade for its impressive new business record, which has seen them pick up the new kiddies brand for Mitre. The Scope and Paradigm merger to form Dig For Fire has created an agency of immense talent, which Adline expects to take the industry by storm. While Propaganda is a well-established agency, its far-reaching restructure this year promises to bring the agency a bright future.

With so many agencies continuing to buck the trend, secure big business and retain clients, the future of the industry looks bright. For clients, the awards serve as a comprehensive guide to the best-run agencies in the UK, and the Adline team would like to congratulate all winners and commendations for their Adline Agency Business Awards and their achievements over the last 12 months.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the agency world – having the vision and ambition to alter the face of advertising and marketing for the better, and for the future, the opportunity to recognise one of the industry’s most inspirational of characters was one Adline did not take lightly. Encompassing the driving enthusiasm for his craft and talent to set new standards over a lifetime, Tony Handley was revealed as the deserved recipient of this special award.

In a career than began at just 14 years of age, Handley’s achievements are unparalleled. Starting off by selling Private Eye to fellow pupils, he became the magazine’s largest wholesaler. Fast-forward to 1972 and, following a string of determined and progressive accomplishments, Handley joined Graham Poulter Advertising and soon progressed from graphic arts manager to group managing director.

In 1983 Handley joined Mike Baxandall, Clive Rand, Chris Allen and Keith McPhail to set up Brahm. Working with clients such as Porsche, Axa Sunlife, Mercantile Credit and Baby Bio, Handley’s fervour has elevated Brahm to success. Twenty years on, and now director of asset management for the agency, Handley has decided to retire, leaving behind a career legacy that the awards sought to crown with the Lifetime Achievement Award.


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