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SWOT nominations

By The Drum | Administrator

April 3, 2008 | 10 min read

Marketing that creates a bit of buzz

The judging panel also included Alex Marks, head of marketing, Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions UK; David Craik of s1; Douglas McArthur OBE, Planning for Results; Garry MacLaren, managing director, Rad Sheep Sportswear and honorary president of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) North West Regional Board; and Malcolm Worrall, Smith & Nephew Medical and regional chair of the CIM.

A number of entries came directly from clients, including Marshall’s, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Arla Foods, HiFix, Kingston Communications, One North East, University of Salford, Halo and Teva. But perhaps the most fiercely contested category was that of Marketing Services Agency of the Year, with eight agencies vying for the title. What follows is a profile of the eight nominated agencies.

For full nominations see:


Cognition is a full-service agency incorporating PR, digital, design and training departments. Now celebrating its tenth year, the firm retains an extensive portfolio of regional, national and international clients, integrating behavioural psychology with marketing principles to maximise impact.

In 2007 Cognition restructured its billing strategy to offer a specialist service to businesses on a smaller budget. The strategy sought to deliver sound, creative marketing and tangible returns to SMEs; a sector in desperate need of marketing assistance but generally approached with caution by agencies looking for sexier brand names and struggling to see profitability.

The SMEs themselves presented Cognition with a variety of interesting challenges; bad experiences with previous agencies had made them cautious and sceptical of the benefits of marketing. Limited budgets demanded a different approach in order to utilise every pound spent and poor brand management meant many clients would need to be re-branded from scratch to create a sound basis for marketing operations.

However, Cognition’s approach to working with SMEs secured outstanding results for clients across the board; facilitating lucrative partnerships with global leisurewear giants, developing brand trust in difficult markets and increasing sales – for one particular client, Cognition directly influenced a sales increase of more than 1,000 percent.


A national marketing agency based in Manchester, MC2’s vision is to become the most successful agency in the north by 2010 based on staff retention, client retention, financial performance and brand recognition.

And MC2 has made significant strides towards achieving its goal already.

By early 2007 it had built national market leadership in the financial and professional services sector, with a retained client base including national and international brands like Deloitte, Grant Thornton, HSBC Private Bank, Cobbetts, Altium Investment Bank and WH Ireland.

Its consumer marketing division had also grown significantly, retained by Toblerone, Kenco, Philadelphia, Benedictine, Terry’s Chocolate Orange and Dairylea.

MC2 has achieved straight-line growth, averaging 26 percent year-on-year from a standing start in 1999. Last year was marked by 36 percent growth (£1,665,216 to £2,268, 277) – a figure which is even more impressive given that it was achieved in a year marked by investment in innovation and infrastructure.

Other headline grabbing highlights include profit growth of 44 percent (up to £610,000); the launch of the only financial PR offering outside London; the relocation to new offices in the former Boardwalk nightclub; and the acquisition of Vertigo PR.


2007 has been a year of continued growth for BJL fuelled by a string of successes and wide-sweaping change. As the role of the advertising agency continues to be redefined by cultural and market forces, BJL has built upon the ‘visioning’ it had began in 2005 and started to implement in 2006, to produce an agency which has a broader skills base, which is consistently delivered for its clients.

Early last year BJL completed its agency restructure, which has been specifically designed to meet clients’ needs for strategic thinking, strong creativity and faultless delivery.

Already the agency has noticed strong returns, not least in its 2007 new business performance in. Wins include Regus, Rosebys and Premierline Direct. The end of 2007 saw BJL secure pan-European work for Johnson Diversey, a Chicago-based client.

These wins add to a client list that also includes John West, ATS, The Lowry, a recently secured place on the BA roster, Bradford and Bingley, Pilkington, Eurocamp and Morphy Richards.

2007 has also seen BJL continue to build its digital team with the appointment of a new board director with responsibility for this area, while the agency’s planning resource has been improved to include data analysis.

BJL has recognised the greater need for the integration of communication disciplines. This has spurred the agency to work more closely with other client agencies and has encouraged clients to involve all in the same briefing process from the outset. Increasing evidence has shown that closer integration can deliver exponential results, and this in turn has lead BJL to ensure synergy between the component parts of its campaigns and also to further expand the range of services that it offers.

Gyro International

Gyro International’s Manchester office was established in 1914 as CAS – one of the first agencies in the city and a B2B pioneer. Subsuming Broughton Jacques, Hyde Burnett and CypherDirect, it became the country’s first B2B specialist and, at the time of the acquisition by Giro International, the largest B2B agency in the north and the fourth largest in the UK.

Specialising in markets with complex products and buying processes, Gyro’s reputation is built in sectors such as financial services, automotive, pharmaceuticals and construction.

With a national and international client base (30 percent of billings are outside the UK), blue-chip clients include DAF, Samsung, BUPA, More Th>n Business, TYCO, Forticrete, HSS Hire and Symantec.

The agency has always had a fully-integrated offering with specialist disciplines such as PR, digital and DM, but becoming part of the Gyro International network has been a leap in the agency’s evolution.

The 50 staff at Gyro International’s Manchester office are responsible for a turnover of £6.5m and gross profits of £3.5m.


Nunwood fuses deep-rooted research expertise with customer insight, predictive analytics, film and web-technology to give global businesses a route to market-leadership.

Over the last 12 months, Leeds-based Nunwood has challenged industry norms and developed a portfolio of client services which treat the capacity to run technically strong and innovative projects as a starting point, not an end in itself.

Developing seven international business units, Nunwood has expanded its client base to incorporate major brands including Google, O2, Vodafone, InBev, Which?, Unilever, Virgin USA, Orange, Hasbro USA, Wyeth Global and B&Q as well as introducing new techniques, including Customer Communities (think Facebook for research), Film Productions and Fizz - a knowledge management framework, which creates a single searchable repository for all electronic knowledge - from images and reports to videos and data sets.

At the same time, Nunwood has grown its team by 30 percent to 110, operating from Leeds, London and New York and invested £200,000 in staff training and development through the Nunwood Academy. The agency is forecasting organic revenue growth of 51 percent to a turnover of £11m.

Code Computerlove

Code Computerlove delivers business and marketing work for some of the biggest brands across the UK and Europe, as well as a number of multinational clients, in a broad range of sectors and services. Big name brands working with Code include Kimberly Clark, Huggies, HMV, Waterstone’s, Hovis, First, Carex, BUPA, HBOS, Moodboard, and Premier Foods.

Established in 1999, Code Computerlove has an impressive 25 percent year-on-year average annual growth rate, boosting this in 2007 with 70 percent growth.

The agency currently employs 46 people from its award-winng studio in central Manchester.

Code’s ‘Computerlove’ is derived from its culture. MD Tony Foggett explains: “We love what we do and our clients tell us that’s what makes us special. We have worked hard to build on our technical background to ensure we have a marketing and communications literate team capable of handling big brand briefs for the online space. Then we make sure there is a little bit of Computerlove in everything that we do.”

Code offers website design and build, online marketing strategy, media planning and buying and campaign management. The team creates work which aims to look beyond the digital to compliment clients’ offline strategies and engage their customers with warmth and personality.

Ultimately, digital marketing and communications are just one channel of the marketing mix and Code Computerlove’s strength lies in understanding where and how digital or online marketing strategy fits into a client’s overall marketing strategy.


Koan is an ethical communications consultancy, which works with organisations like Marshalls plc and National Express.

The UK’s longest-established ethical communications consultancy, Koan was founded in 2002. However, 2007 saw the agency celebrate its most successful year to date.

As a growing agency working in an industry renowned for cynicism and spin, Koan faced a number of major challenges, from the hunt for new staff and clients to an increase of consultancies entering the ethical market with little or none of Koan’s experience, but with a higher profile.

2007 brought about massive change in the industry and a real about-turn in terms of ethical communications. Yet, the agency developed and delivered a lauded sustainability campaign for Marshall’s and secured a number of high profile social and ethical account wins, including National Express, in Control, Honover, Carewatch and Operation Smile.

The agency, which has offices in Manchester, London and Newcastle, also set up its Magic Beans charitable trust and recruited Lord Terry Thomas as its non-executive director.

Cube3 Marketing

Cube3 started out in 1999 as a design agency but in mid 2006 the company was relaunched and rebranded as Cube3 Marketing, providing a fully integrated approach to design, marketing and digital communications.

2007 has been a year of outstanding growth for Cube3 Marketing, which saw the company extend its service offering again by establishing a new digital division; Cube3 Digital and expanding into public relations.

Challenges for the business included educating clients and local businesses to the rebrand and new website, along with promoting Cube3’s new services to existing and new clients.

In 2007 Cube3 Marketing increased its turnover by 40 percent, it acquired 25 new clients and five new positions were created in the company, while in its first full year of trading, Cube3 Digital accounted for 17 percent of the company’s turnover and brought in 15 new clients.

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