The Brand Union

Report by Simon Bolton (below)Worldwide chief executive officer

Report by Simon Bolton

I believe this to be the most exciting and challenging of times in our industry. Brands compete in an ever-changing landscape where market forces, media channels and the breadth of web, digital and social media mean that we all interact with brands in a different manner today. However, the core tenet of our business remains constant. The Brand Union is charged by its clients to bring perspective and resonance to their brands.


Rising to the challenge

After a challenging first quarter in 2011, in which we merged our high-end consulting offer with our core business, momentum grew – culminating in a very strong second-half performance. This positive outcome came from three main sources: growth with our key client partners, the development of our consumer branding practice led by Dave Brown, and further expansion of our network, particularly in developing markets.

Key client partners

The philosophy of focusing effort and investment around our major multinational client business is embedded in our culture and is manifested in strong teams delivering world-class output every day. We were rewarded with major new assignments from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, GSK, Henkel, Pernod Ricard, Reckitt Benckiser and Vodafone.

New business 

We prevailed in a number of big reviews to secure new clients such as Genpact, Cofco Group, China Mobile, Qatar National Bank, Kellogg’s, Heineken, Fidelity International Investment, Yves Rocher, South African Airways and Abu Dhabi Ports Company. It was particularly gratifying to be awarded major new branding assignments for digital clients such as Shazam, and WPP’s new initiative, The Data Alliance.

Network development

We opened offices in Qatar and Thailand and bolstered our African presence by adding a Cape Town operation. We established an affiliate partnership in Korea and, at time of going to press, we are in the advanced stages of entering Brazil.

Talent progress

We transferred a record number of people across our network including Toby Southgate who moved from New York to London to become CEO of UK and Ireland. Other significant appointments included Meghna Prasad as CEO of India, Oleg Kuzmin as CEO of Moscow, Rene De Paus as MD of Jakarta and Natasha Adams as group human resources director.

Awards, accolades and social responsibility

We had another good year and, amongst many awards, highlights included: our Paris and India agencies being crowned Agency of the Year in their markets; we increased our visibility at Cannes through the sponsorship (with our sister company Lambie-Nairn) of Cannes Also; at the individual level, Glenn Tutssel, our UK executive creative director, was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Sujata Keshavan, founder of our business in India, was named one of that country’s Fortune Top 50 most powerful women in business.

Finally, I would like to recognise the social contribution our people have made through initiatives such as pro bono work, our internship program, education and charitable endeavours. Our New York team mobilised the entire network in the ‘Movember’ moustache campaign to raise awareness and funds for male cancers. Initiatives such as these help fuel our culture and make The Brand Union such a special place to work.

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