MAA Agency of the Year: second contender is New Commercial Arts

From start-up to grown-up in just three years

When adam&eve founders James Murphy and David Golding announced they were leaving the agency (by then adam&eveDDB) the UK’s largest and winner of countless gongs domestically and internationally, great things were expected.

What wasn’t was a launch in the teeth of the worst pandemic to hit the world in decades. But New Commercial Arts (the name’s a clue) still launched in summer 2020 and rapidly established itself.

Its first campaign was a global effort for the World Out of Home Organization – ‘Our Second Chance’ – which made impressive use of all those suddenly empty billboards worldwide.

On its first official morning in business it landed Lloyds Banking Group’s Halifax and NCA was off and running. Not just as a clone of adam&eveDDB though: a key part of the offer was customer experience led by former Wunderman ace Rob Curran. BBH CCO Ian Hearfield joined to lead creative.

Since then it’s been pretty much plain sailing. NCA did resign Halifax but only to pitch for Nationwide, which it won. The agency also won MoneySuperMarket (below) in a top drawer pitch, picked up Sainsbury’s brands Tu and Habitat to be followed by the main account earlier this year. It also won Nando’s with a brief covering ads and store development.

The agency is growing fast: second in Campaign’s new business league behind another AoY contender Leo Burnett and likely to be in the Nielsen Top Ten agencies when they’re produced early next year (as we predicted a year ago.) Accountancy firm Kingston Smith even welcomed NCA into its (financial) ‘Hall of Fame’ based on a number of metrics including staff to income, operating margin and overhead cover, vital for agencies to withstand account losses and the like.

So NCA is already a successful business with a broader base than most agencies. And the work? Nationwide got off to a flyer with some topical ads in the cost of living crisis to be followed by a virtuoso turn by Dominic West as an ageing yuppie (and suitably heartless) rival bank manager.

Plus it worked on a snazzy branch makeover (at a time when rivals were busily closing theirs.)

Sainsbury’s Christmas effort was more low key but, as NCA will remind you, the supermarket’s share is up and so are the shares – 30 per cent in a year. MoneySuperMarket too is performing strongly with Judi Dench and her team bringing in the punters.

In the pandemic a senior exec from MullenLowe, making his pitch for Agency of the Year, said it had better be that year because NCA would inevitably triumph in the years to come. Will this be its year?

Back to top button