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Penny Machines

oil on canvas
22 x 20 in

Penny Machines
oil on canvas
23¾ x 29¾ in

Stack of Books
oil on canvas
30 x 24 in

Seven Suckers
oil on canvas
19 x 23 in

Twin Jackpots
oil on canvas
30 x 46 in

oil on canvas
20 x 26 in

Cake Slices
oil on canvas
20 x 16 in

The Brand Union

Report by Simon Bolton (below)
Worldwide chief executive officer

Simon Bolton

As expected, and in common with our industry, 2009 proved to be a challenging year for The Brand Union. We wrestled with two specific issues: a reduction in corporate- and M&A-led assignments off the back of the travails of the global financial market and the erosion of client activity in the emerging markets – both of which provided major impetus for the company’s growth trajectory during the previous three years.

However, I can report that The Brand Union responded positively to these challenges. We successfully stabilised our business and adapted our offer and services to the new trading environment. As a result, we had a stronger second half in 2009 and outperformed many of our competitors.

Network development

In May we were able to announce a significant enhancement to our North American presence, integrating two sister WPP businesses into The Brand Union. BIG (Brand Integration Group), formerly part of Ogilvy NY, merged with Brouillard (a first-class B2B communications agency) and The Brand Union, to form a powerful new offer in the branding and communications arena. Headed by CEO Rob Scalea and chief creative officer Richard Bates, the New York team has led the development of major clients such as Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Coca-Cola, SPX, TFI and, most recently, helping to re-launch BlackRock following the acquisition of Barclays Global Investors.

In Asia Pacific, we began to grow again towards the end of the year following a number of structural changes. Monica Lee has returned to run our China operations. Graham Hitchmough has been promoted to lead our South East Asia hub in Singapore. In India, our business, led by Sujata Keshavan (founder and executive chairman), had a record year, crowned by a GlaxoSmithKline win to re-launch one of the sub-continent’s favourite brands.

We have also made changes in the management line up in our regional businesses led from Johannesburg for the African continent and Dubai for the UAE and Middle East region.

At the time of going to press, we are pleased to announce that we are setting up a service office in Moscow to look after the burgeoning needs of major clients such as Henkel and Pernod Ricard.

Everystone Consulting

Our upstream consulting offer, Everystone, led by Crispin Jameson and Erik Tillberg, also performed well, securing new clients such as Ericsson, Vattenfall and new assignments from Bank of America. A 2010 expansion plan for this line of business is being enacted.

Key client partnerships

Despite the challenging economy, we grew our top 10 client revenue significantly. In addition to clients mentioned above, we won new assignments from Pernod Ricard, Henkel, Mars, Reckitt Benckiser, Vodafone and Vattenfall.

Using a unified operating platform, known as Brand Mastery, across our network, we expect to develop further our core business through the delivery of compelling strategic work and powerful ‘Brand World’ experiences.

Awards and recognition

The Brand Union performed well in key award shows winning either first or second in major awards such as the DBA, Marketing Design Awards and D&AD. We also earned our first Cannes Lion (Silver), awarded to Hans Brindfors and his team in our Stockholm office.

At the end of the year, the London agency was named Design Agency of the Year by Marketing magazine, crowning an outstanding year in terms of new business, client business growth and acknowledged creative output.

Our agency in Bangalore was also selected as Design Agency of the Year for the second year running by the Economic Times of India.

On this solid base, we look forward to the challenges and opportunities of the year ahead.

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