Krow’s capture of the £14m pan-European advertising account for Fiat’s Grande Punto (MW last week) caps an impressive year for the 15-month-old start-up.
The agency, which was set up by Barry Cook, John Quarrey, Nick Hastings and Malcolm White in the autumn of 2005, will have 30 employees by the end of the year – more than doubling its size since January – after a string of new business wins, including Fiat’s UK ad account (MW March 23), a place on the Unilever roster and the £15m Thomson travel business.
Krow, which is “work” spelt backwards, got off to a relatively slow start, launching without a client and only picking up its first significant piece of business in February when it was appointed to launch the Alfa Romeo Brera (MW February 9).
Integrated advantage But since then it has not looked back, and followed up the Unilever-owned Elmlea account by winning Thomson against the likes of JWT, Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners and incumbent DDB. The Haystack Group managing director Suki Thompson thinks the agency’s integrated offering – Quarrey was at below-the-line agency Arc for 17 years before leaving to set up Krow – has impressed clients.
She says: “Some of the other advertising start-ups have got some digital capability but that’s not the same as really understanding customer relationship management. I think that’s given Krow an added dimension that none of the other start-ups have got.” It is a point that is picked up by Jamie Matthews, who worked with Quarrey at Arc. He believes the Krow business model stems from when Cook ran DMB&B – later renamed D’Arcy – and Quarrey was in charge at that agency’s below-the-line arm IMP, which became Arc.
“That’s when those agencies were most integrated because it came down from the top,” says Matthews, who left Arc to set up his own integrated agency, Initials, earlier this year (MW April 27). “When you’ve got an imbalance of power it doesn’t tend to work as well. They obviously respect each other’s disciplines.” But Cook stresses that Krow is not just a traditional integrated agency. “We’re not trying to sell integrated,” he says. “What we offer is a perspective on business problems. We’re providing solutions that come from a breadth of communications styles.” While there is no doubting the pedigree of the four founders – as well as Cook and Quarrey, Hastings and White are former creative and planning directors respectively at Euro RSCG – they do not have the profile of someone like Trevor Beattie, who has himself recently launched start-up Beattie McGuinness Bungay (BMB).
But, so far, Krow is giving BMB a run for its money. Agency Assessments International chairman David Wethey says: “You get some people who are particularly good at new business and punching above their weight, and Nick Hastings is one of those people. You don’t need hundreds of staff to win new business. It’s the people in the [pitch] room that sway it.” Personal contacts The founders have all said that one of the reasons they set up Krow was because they wanted the day-to-day client contact they were not getting at bigger network agencies. But start-ups can soon turn into mid-size and then big agencies themselves if new business keeps coming through the door.
Quarrey says: “We’ve got a lot of things to achieve before that happens. We’ve got a big job ahead of us making sure we get these accounts properly bedded into the agency.” After a quiet beginning, Krow is starting to fly high.