The Drum

The Drum's New Year Honours: Independent agencies of the year featuring W+K, SapientNitro, Zone, and Epiphany


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

January 11, 2014 | 3 min read

Throughout this week The Drum has been dishing out its New Year Honours. Who were the brands brave enough to do something different in 2013? Which agencies impressed us time and time again? And what work will we cherish for years to come? All this week we've be revealing our picks of the year, the full list of which is also published in The Drum’s 8 January issue.

Yesterday we listed our top Unsung Heroes of the year, and today we look at 2013's best independent agencies.

Wieden + Kennedy

Wieden + Kennedy has had another brilliant year with its viral smash Dancing Pony, created for Three Mobile, knocking Harlem Shake off the number on slot and notching up 7m views to date. The agency has had a solid year, picking up a global account win for Mondelez, leading to it climbing to 19th place in the UK’s top 30 agencies by billings, according to Nielsen, no mean feat for one of the few remaining independent agencies.


The largest independent interactive creative agency left on the map, SapientNitro is continues to be a force to be reckoned with, while its competitors are snapped up by the major networks. The agency has been running major events, including the ever so slightly impressive digital storytelling event during the summer that managed to draw the likes of Heston Blumenthal, James Cameron and Dame Vivienne Westwood to speak. The agency’s European boss Nigel Vaz also made it to the number one spot in The Drum’s Digerati poll, seeing him named Individual of the Year at the Dadi Awards.


It’s remarkable that an agency which has clients including Coca-Cola, Tesco, Channel 4 and BT manages to fly so close under the radar, but that’s what Zone has done. The agency drove the social media strategy for Channel 4’s 2012 Paralympics and this year was tasked with establishing BT as a credible football ‘player’ following the launch of Sky Sports and ESPN on the BT Vision digital TV platform. BT tried to establish its online presence ‘Life’s a Pitch’ as a community for football fans, but failed to gain traction. Zone stepped in, and within 18 months monthly unique users spiked 10,000 per cent and its YouTube presence went from zero to 170,000 monthly video views, putting BT well on the online map for its football coverage.


This Leeds-based digital agency has been going from strength to strength and reported record half-year financial results going into 2014, having picked up £2.55m worth of news business since February, including fashion brand Arthur Ridley Esq and Sykes Cottages. It ranked within the top three for client satisfaction in The Drum Digital Census this year, while it was also named as Yorkshire’s Best Marketing Business by the Marketing Industry Network Awards. As well as being named one of The Drum’s independent agencies of 2013, Epiphany also takes the award of regional agency of the year.

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