The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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By Awards Analyst, writer

October 12, 2021 | 8 min read

Rocketmill was named ‘Independent Agency of the Year’ (50-149 employees) at the at The Drum Awards for Agency Business in 2021. Here, the agency explain the people-first approach that has helped it achieve its most successful year ever despite the pandemic.

The last year was difficult for so many people and businesses, however, it’s become the year we are most proud of at RocketMill. Here are the headlines:

  • Client revenues increased by almost half year on year.

  • We were announced as The Sunday Times and Campaign Best Places to Work. The culture we created together resulted in staff retention of 90%.

  • Our gender pay gap reduced from to 3%.

  • We became an Employee Owned Trust

  • We invested in an agency-wide consultancy with Project 23 to help us build a truly inclusive agency. We doubled the number of Black, Asian or minority ethnic staff.

  • We achieved the highest accreditation possible from Investors in the Environment and continued our commitment to profit-share with The World Land Trust.

  • We invested a record sum in making our people happier and smarter via training from Olympic sports psychologists PlanetK2 to help us through lockdowns, and began a multi-year deal with LinkedIn Learning for all staff.

  • The Drum Recommends Operations Team of the Year 2020

  • The Drum Recommends Client Service Team of the Year 2020

  • The Drum Recommends Grand Prix Winner 2021

  • The Drum Awards for Search - Performance Agency of the Year 2021

  • Sunday Times Top 100 Medium Companies To Work For 2021

  • Campaign Best Places To Work 2021

  • Glassdoor 4.7 rating

Acquisition of clients

2020 was a record-breaking year for client acquisition and it continues into 2021. 15 new partners joining us in the last 12 months. Client referrals, agency collaborations and brand new leads have all played a part and our marketing efforts supported the conversion of those we pitched for.

New wins include:

  • Cewe - Media planning & Buying, Creative, Data

  • BuyaCar - Search, Social, Brand Strategy & Creative

  • Missoma - Media & Creative

  • Ultimate Sports Nutrition [USN] - Media incl. Amazon & Creative

  • Homeserve - Search, CRO, SEO & Analytics

  • Scottish Friendly - Search, Social

  • Maker & Son - Media, Analytics

Our campaigns

‘Big Kid Game’ for Huggies Pull Ups: A multi-million pound media campaign helped Huggies to their best sales results for 6 years, up 26%. See Entry Video link for a short case study film.

BuyaCar: 2020 was one to remember for the flexibility we demonstrated around the lockdown rules and despite the challenges our car finance applications increased 286% YoY in Q4 - This was down to a whopping 41% reduction in CPA that enabled an increased budget.

Dennis: Having supported the growth of The Week Junior UK in the last 18 months, we were awarded the full funnel US launch in 2020. A staggering start with subscriptions bought in all 50 states within the first few weeks and recently hit the 75k milestone. Our work accounts for 50% of all acquisitions to date. Please find the enclosed link to a post from the CEO at Dennis.

Stackers: Taking over all media channels at the end of 2019 and relaunching a full funnel approach in Jan has delivered remarkable numbers since. Especially in Search with a 41% increase in ROAS on brand activity, +150% in shopping and +158% for non-brand sales.

Missoma: Record revenues for Christmas gifting. During 19th - 30th November 2020 we beat a stretch target by 22% while maintaining profit and growing AOV. This resulted in a 30% increase in Black Friday revenues year on year.


Here are a few of our favourites from 2020/21:

“We have only been working with RocketMill for 12 months but the strategic changes they have made to our digital marketing is already yielding results. They have been an extraordinary partner to work with over this incredibly challenging time for businesses.” Rachel King, Breathe HR

“Rocketmill have been a great addition to the USN business, they've quickly understood the brand and the objectives on the account. They've used a very strategic approach to manage the budget, whilst at the same time they've come to the table with new ideas to try and help grow the overall size of the account and number of consumers entering the brand.” Mark Hackwell, Ultimate Sports Nutrition

What else we’ve been up to.

Investment in people

  • New to 2020/21 LinkedIn Learning - Multi year investment for all staff

  • New to 2020/21 Planet 2K - Whole agency training carried out by Olympic sports psychologists

  • Ginger Dog Development - One on one personal development coaching for all staff

Diversity & Inclusion

  • Gender pay gap reduced from 9% to 3%.

  • Doubled the number of Black, Asian or minority ethnic staff.

  • Invested in an agency-wide consultancy with the great PROJECT 23 to help us build a truly inclusive agency. We will always have work to do on D&I, but we've made great strides.


  • We achieved the highest accreditation possible from Investors in the Environment.

  • We continued to build on our partnership/profit-share to The World Land Trust.

Our Total Performance Proposition

Working with our Chief Strategy Officer, we developed a strategic framework for the agency to better meet the changing demands of our clients and their customers. Thinking about digital as a channel limits client business performance. Digital is now the connected foundation upon which business is done. It dominates how customers engage and interact with a brand. Marketing however, has become more fragmented. We created a proposition to unite old world craft with the modern, analytical marketer, giving clients the speed and synergy to win in the digital world.

This work has directly impacted revenue growth directly through pitch wins and successful upsells. Building deeper and more strategic client relationships by framing our skills as parts to a full funnel offering has been fundamental to our growth.

RocketMill Behaviours

Our entire leadership team looked at the staff that have thrived at our agency, and used their behaviours as the blueprint for the culture our collective behaviour creates. We then engrained these into the agency, making them the criteria by which we measure individual performance, how we evaluate prospective new hires and it is the format by which we give kudos internally.

This work has been the cornerstone in creating a high performance team that can move in the same direction, growing rapidly whilst retaining staff satisfaction, client satisfaction and continued commercial success.


As the devastation of Covid became apparent, and before the furlough scheme was announced, we guaranteed every staff member's jobs. We felt our people had enough on their plate without worrying for their jobs.

They repaid us for this security with an effort that produced our most successful year to date.

We then used this success to invest in causes we care about whilst paying record bonuses and employing a lot more people.

In 2020 we put our people first and the commercial wins followed for our clients, our staff and our business.

In 2021 we became an Employee Owned Trust. A model that fits perfectly with our People First philosophy. A model that means we all win.

For our staff – they directly benefit from their endeavour via equity, profit share, tax free bonus and knowing that the agency must be run for their benefit.

For our clients – we can keep attracting and retaining the best talent. Our team will be more motivated than ever to be an entrepreneur for their brands because they have skin in the game.

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