Our clients come from many sectors and range in size from established international giants to fast growing companies and charities. We assist, on average, around 70 clients each year and below you will find a small selection of them to give a flavour of the work we’ve recently undertaken on behalf of our client partners.
Martin & the AAR team led an impeccable pitch process with a superb outcome for MoneySuperMarket. As we seek to reinvent the price comparison category, we had the right level of support all the way, from a clear set of governing principles, to coaching and consultancy, to hands on project management and the app that helped us make our briefings, immersions & pitch presentations without a glitch. When there were inevitable challenges, AAR stewarded with candid and practical advice and kept a watchful eye on engaging stakeholders throughout the business at the right time. They kept the day to day team up to speed on all aspects of the pitch programme and handled themselves and us with real grace, purpose and ease. Thank you AAR. You’ve done us proud.
Brand Director, MoneySuperMarket
How we helped MoneySuperMarket
MoneySuperMarket has produced some of the most iconic advertising campaigns in recent years.
We worked with them to help appoint a new creative agency to build the next phase of the brand’s development.
Advertising is key to the success of the brand and it was therefore key to ensure that we had internal buy in to the agency from all internal stakeholders and consequently, meetings were arranged with colleagues at all levels in advance of the final presentations.
There are certain marketplaces where holding a deep understanding of the capabilities and qualities of its participants can quickly aid and bring value to the sourcing process. This holds true for the marketing arena and unless there is a well linked in-house subject matter expert, then it is extremely difficult to navigate independently and quickly establish a suitable roster of candidates to meet your requirements. AAR brings value to this area and can short-cut the sourcing process through their unique insight to the market place and their ability to synthesise your needs into a robust candidate listing. Further to this, AAR are able to mediate suitable two way briefs such that meaningful meetings can take place.
Procurement & Commercial, SSE
How we helped SSE
New legislation was being introduced that meant the big six energy companies would all have directly comparable price plans (therefore offering no discernible competitive advantage) and would no longer be able to door-stop potential customer and brow beat them into changing supplier. Therefore SSE wanted to invest in their brand as a means of differentiation in the ultimate commodity market, energy.
Agency Requirement: Demonstrable evidence of building brands through advertising, culturally empathetic – SSE is a Scottish company with a Presbyterian background
Programme: Classic pitch programme with final presentations taking place in Glasgow.
Outcome: A&E DDB won the pitch but the pitch idea never saw the light of day. The new idea (Orangutan) is still running.
Using AAR as a guide through our pitch process ensured we had a fantastic selection of agencies to see for chemistry meetings that were right for our organisation and brief. We were able to streamline to 4 agencies to invite to pitch and the calibre was outstanding. Everything was coordinated by the AAR ensuring minimal disruption on my own team and the process ran very smoothly and professionally. Martin has a wealth of knowledge and experience and I cannot recommend more highly using AAR to ensure the right outcome for this hugely important process.
How we helped Organix
The entire AAR team was a pleasure to work with throughout our pitch process. Their knowledge of the agency world was invaluable and meant we were introduced to potential agency partners that we may not have otherwise considered. Furthermore, they helped ensure that a potentially cumbersome process was in fact stream-lined and enjoyable, allowing us to focus on achieving the right outcome. I could not recommend working with them more.
How we helped Barnardo’s
As a charity, Barnardo’s had great brand awareness, but consumers didn’t really understand what they did or stood for.
Our task was to help them appoint an agency that could help articulate this and bring it to life through a campaign that would resonate with both consumers and Barnardo’s internal staff and volunteers.
We engaged AAR to help shape and launch a Greene King Marketing Excellence Programme. Not an easy job given the scale of the task, differing stakeholder views and a relentless focus on cost efficiency. What AAR delivered was insightful, pragmatic and inspiring. In terms of deliverables, they scoped out a series of options with high level content, timings and launch ideas and led a series of internal workshops to help gain agreement for the right approach. They managed each and every part of the project with knowledge, experience and, most of all, a contagious passion to succeed. The programme launched in summer 2017 with positive feedback from a tough audience, which is as much a testament to AAR as it is to the internal team.
How we helped Greene King
Worked with the senior client to shape and scale the ambition for the Marketing Excellence Programme
Developed a series of different options and routes for consideration
Facilitated internal workshops with senior colleagues from Marketing, HR and Operations to gain buy in for the concept and drive internal prioritisation
Supported the development of a business case to justify investment, considering time and cost
Supported content development and launch plan
Acted as external sounding board, offering external ideas and perspective
AAR did a great job quickly understanding our business challenge, company culture, and global creative needs and helped identify a great group agencies for initial discussions. They guided us through the process, acted as a terrific sounding board and ultimately helped us find the right agency partner. They have a deep understanding of the EU/UK agency marketplace and we’re not sure we could have managed the process as efficiently and effectively without AAR’s involvement. 5-bubble rating for AAR!
How we helped TripAdvisor
Trip Advisor was looking for a creative agency to produce work to run across Europe to encourage bookings rather than simply research.
Agencies needed to be familiar with producing work for multiple markets and be comfortable with a test and learn approach, be nimble, proactive and responsive.
Pitches took place in Boston with TA CEO, Stephen Kaufer, in attendance.
AAR’s role was to help Trip Advisor see the big idea without getting caught up in the detail.
Joint was appointed and their work is currently running across Europe.
AAR was an indispensable partner during the running of several of our brand pitches. They provided wise, impartial counsel when needed and their fair approach on process established a real sense of trust with all agencies allowing them to bring their best thinking to the pitch.
How we helped KFC
KFC is an iconic brand, but in recent years its creative work had become quite functional.
Our brief was to help them appoint an advertising agency that could create an iconic campaign which reflected the brand’s tone of voice and of which colleagues could be justifiably proud.
AAR was the obvious choice when considering a partner to help us navigate the world of agency review and selection. It’s an environment filled with individual consultants, advisers who claim to know the market and those that simply keep lists of their favourite agencies. We needed a consultant partner with the depth of knowledge and personal insights that AAR demonstrated, to truly add value. It was very important that we conducted the whole process in a fair and transparent manner, with a high degree of professionalism. Paul helped us through the review, identifying opportunities we would have missed without them, and halved the timeframe that we would have needed. Working with partners on both sides of the Atlantic was also very useful when conducting a global pitch. It allowed us to evaluate shared & different perspectives in parallel, ultimately assisting us with making the right decision for the future.
How we helped American Airlines
Over the past four years, AAR has become a valued partner of The Co-operative Group and now feel more like an extension of our internal team due to their in depth understanding and appreciation of our needs and ways of working. Despite the extremely diverse nature of our organisation, AAR has embraced and immersed themselves in our complexity in order to assist us in improving both our internal and external capability by streamlining our approach to agency procurement and management. The objective and experienced perspective that AAR brings to the table has been vital in providing us with a true picture of what we needed to address and a very clear action plan of how we can achieve the necessary improvements. In particular the bespoke Marketing Excellence Training Programme that has been developed and delivered by Vicky Gillan has been instrumental in raising standards, confidence and morale across the marketing communications community.
How we helped The Co-operative Group
Full roster review and appointment of creative, digital and direct marketing agency partners
Review of commercial and remuneration arrangements with agency partners
Working Practices review with all Co-op business units and their agency partners
Ways of working consultancy including campaign development process, working with agencies and all agency briefing templates
Marketing team training programme across all Co-op business units
I just wanted to drop you a line to thank you for the work that AAR carried out for Heineken in the recent Bulmers creative pitch. To be honest, it was a relief to be given a recommendation from a colleague along with your contact details at the start of the project. Our ever tighter deadlines meant that having an expert third party to advise, challenge and support us through the process was essential.
How we helped Heineken
Review and appointment of creative agency for Foster’s lager
Review and appointment of creative agency for Strongbow
Review and appointment of creative agency for Bulmers
Once again AAR has impressed me with your efforts to understand not only the marketplace but also our business requirements, our culture and the nature of the people involved. I’m confident that this thorough approach has established another very successful fit between BMW and its chosen agency. We’re looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship as a result. AAR’s people are confidence-inspiring, very organised and a pleasure to deal with. The customer service attitude is exemplary and offering perfectly tailored. Thank you for the excellent support.
How we helped BMW
Review and appointment of creative, CRM and integrated agencies for BMW
Review and appointment of integrated and experiential agencies for MINI
Review and appointment of integrated and digital agencies for Rolls Royce
The professional and personable way in which you guided us through the creative agency maze towards the final selection of our new agency partner made a daunting experience as enjoyable as it could be. Your knowledge of the industry and insight into individual agencies and people, coupled with the strong feel that you showed for the JLP culture, were invaluable. The logistics of the process were effectively managed, saving us considerable time and effort. I would thoroughly endorse AAR’s services to any clients thinking of undertaking a review. Money well spent!
How we helped John Lewis and Partners
Review and appointment of creative and media agency partners for John Lewis
Review and appointment of digital CRM agencies for John Lewis, Waitrose and waitrose.com
On several high profile agency reviews, the BBC sought assistance from AAR. Although the projects were owned by the BBC’s Procurement function, AAR was an invaluable addition to the team. Their in-depth knowledge of the inner workings of agencies really helped us to understand and piece together how we might expect to work with the agencies once selected. Information was delivered in a very factual, unbiased way that facilitated rather than led decision-making, helping us to be objective throughout the process. They really understood the public procurement element of my job and dovetailed perfectly between Procurement and the Marketing leadership team. I wouldn’t hesitate getting in contact with AAR again as they’re an organisation I know I could trust.
How we helped the BBC
Review and appointment of creative, media, CRM and design agency rosters
Performance evaluation across three creative agency partners and the respective BBC marketing teams
Consultancy project to support the BBC marketing team in achieving outstanding creativity in marketing communications
Agency fee benchmarking consultancy to probe efficiency of BBC’s buying processes
I cannot recommend AAR highly enough after their support in our creative agency pitch selection process. Their knowledge, expertise and experience ensured that we had a phenomenally strong selection of agencies with the right blend of capabilities and cultural fit for our business. The process ran smoothly and was managed efficiently by the AAR team; whilst support was on hand from briefing to appointment (and beyond). A huge thanks to Martin and the AAR team for making it a really enjoyable experience.
How we helped DFS
With an aspirational strategic vision of becoming ‘The Leading Sofa Retailer in the Digital Age’, the DFS team wanted to ensure their new agency could partner with them to achieve that ambition.
The successful agency would need to have the capability to understand the entire customer journey, from consideration through to purchase and potentially repurchase. And, equally as important, there would need to be a very strong cultural fit. DFS was looking to appoint a potential agency partner for the next decade.
AAR consequently ran a pitch programme that allowed agencies to prove their strategic and creative capabilities while encouraging both client and agency teams to spend as much time together as possible, safely within COVID-19 guidelines. By the time DFS arrived at their final decision, there was no doubt that there would be a strong fit in terms of capability, personal engagement and collaboration.
The final presentations took place over two days at the DFS HQ in Doncaster, with Pablo being appointed.
AAR’s guidance and support during our search for an agency partner was invaluable. From the practical logistical support to the wealth of experience in client and agency relationships they offer, AAR was a great ally to our organization and we would highly recommend their services.
How we helped the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Founded by Bill and Melinda Gates and launched in 2000, the aims of the foundation are to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty on a global basis.
The Foundation was seeking to appoint a global creative and media agency partnership to work on a campaign to elevate Health up the political agenda.
Whether this could be achieved through raising public awareness or by directly influencing politicians was one of the key questions that was asked of the pitching agencies.
In order to make the strategy as robust as possible it was decided to use the UK and Germany as test markets in advance of a global roll out.
It was therefore important that the chosen agency could deliver a seamless team from both countries, and following a highly competitive pitch, AMV BBDO was appointed.
AAR made the process really enjoyable and we felt that Martin and his colleagues were an extension of our team. The AAR team is very patient and experienced which helps when making tough decisions. I always felt that nothing was too much trouble and that the AAR team were looking out for our best interests and really listening to our feedback and questions.
How we helped the England and Wales Cricket Board
In 2021, a new cricket format called “The Hundred” was launched, with each team having 100 balls to score the maximum number of runs. Eight cities (rather than counties) were to compete over a five-week period, and the new concept was intended to appeal to both traditional cricket fans and new audiences who might be looking for an alternative entertainment option.
We worked closely with the ECB (England & Wales Cricket Board) to help them identify creative agencies and PR consultancies who had experience of working on behaviour change campaigns to ensure that the launch would be a success in both the short and long term.
As our marketing had become more global in nature we wanted a step change in our creative agency partnership that could match our ambition and service our future growth. All of which had to be realised in a new communications platform and creative idea that could be launched in a matter of months. AAR created a programme that met the demanding timescales, gave confidence in our decision making and future-proofed our agency appointment.
How we helped Just Eat
Just Eat had been operating successfully across its core markets, each one producing its own advertising. This approach was going to be unsustainable as the business continued to grow and AAR was briefed to help Just Eat identify agencies that could deliver global work that would have creative impact and resonance across multiple markets.
The heart of the brief was to replace what was a functional relationship between the brand and its customers, with more of an emotional one, and so help to distinguish Just Eat from an increasingly crowded and noisy competitive marketplace. All of which had to be done in an aggressive timescale.
Against stiff competition, McCann’s delivered a pitch-winning performance.
AAR, under the terrific guidance of Martin Jones, provided a terrific service to Subway in helping us identify and ultimately choose a new creative agency; from the outset, Martin and the team were extremely professional, always accessible and helped us move at speed and with accuracy through what could be an elongated process. Particularly valuable to us was the way in which they got us to think critically and deeply about what we were exactly looking for – overall, delighted with the support of AAR!
How we helped Subway
We worked with Subway UK & Ireland to help them appoint a new creative agency partner.
Our brief was to help them find an agency that could not only work in a very fast retail environment but, equally importantly, ensure that their key franchisee audience was involved in the pitch programme.
In a final shoot out, Above & Beyond were appointed.
AAR has been so much more than a consultant throughout Save the Children’s media agency procurement. Whilst their market and process knowledge have been second to none, their guidance gave us the necessary tools and advice required to unanimously agree to make the leap to a single agency solution. This step change has delivered enormous benefits – both commercially and to our overarching marketing strategy. We have now signed on the dotted line with our new partner; something we would not have achieved without AAR. They have gone over and above, and I would encourage you to engage AAR to provide expertise in your upcoming review.
How we helped Save The Children
Save The Children approached us ahead of a review and consolidation of their media planning and buying agencies from four relationships managed by different teams to one agency, managed centrally.
Their agency split was broken down by Brand, Direct Response, Digital and Legacy Marketing and, whilst each team supported the review in theory, there was some concern that no one agency would understand the nuances of the charity world and be able to service their specialist areas as well as the incumbents.
AAR’s approach was to first map the market to ensure that there were credible candidates available to the charity and interested in the opportunity.
Once all stakeholders had been reassured, we devised a review programme and built a brief that would answer the needs of the charity as well as making Save the Children an appealing potential partner to an agency.
MediaCom North was appointed to the business.
I was really glad we had AAR on board with the process. Your knowledge was invaluable. Having you guys to manage the logistics was worth the fee alone, and I think we got the best outcome by having you involved and keeping us in check. It was a really great experience.
How we helped Three
As Three geared up for the introduction of 5G, the mobile services provider undertook a full transformation exercise across the business with the deployment of a new, largely Adobe based, tech platform playing a crucial role in delivering a joined-up ecosystem across all touch points to provide a much richer view of the customer, as well as greater end to end performance management capability.
They approached AAR to help find an agency that could not only help with this transition to a new tech stack but also create the step change in how Three communicate with their existing base across all journeys, and ultimately lift them out of category conventions and create totally unique experiences for their customers.
After a highly competitive pitch, MRM McCann were appointed to the account.
Brilliantly informed, wise, efficient and charming; the AAR have been a real pleasure to work with. In helping us find a new creative agency partner, they were absolutely focused on finding the right cultural fit for us, as well as the creative excellence we need. Their advice has been invaluable: guiding us through the process, taking care of all the logistics, helping us to play our part well, and – having their finger on the pulse of the industry – unearthing possibilities that just wouldn’t have occurred to us. They have turned the frankly terrifying task of finding a new creative partner into a fascinating, enjoyable and rewarding experience. We’re very grateful for their help.
How we helped Thinkbox
Finding a creative agency to promote the benefits of television advertising has to be one of the most daunting and rewarding projects we’ve ever had the pleasure to deal with.
Whilst it was important that the pitching agencies had chemistry with the team at Thinkbox, this was one of the rare occasions where the main point of the review was to find the creative idea…..a world class TV campaign that would get the public talking and engaged.
Following a series of Chemistry Meetings, we ended up with our own version of the Champions League Semi Final involving four of the strongest agencies slugging it out, with Mother finally picking up the winner’s trophy.
Here’s why I think you’ll get to a better place with AAR’s support…they have a skill in crystallising and simplifying the challenge, then they make sure you stay focussed on meeting that challenge across all areas of their counsel. They’ll help you make better decisions that will deliver better results. And it will be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
How we helped airbnb
This was an opportunity for media agencies to prove themselves worthy across three regions comprising The Americas, APAC and EMEA. Up for grabs was the chance to win in any one or all of the regions.
Added to this challenge was the brand team’s desire to consider worthy domestic agencies in the core markets of UK & North America, with the potential to separate these from the regional play. All with a parallel commercial, contractual and operational pitch brief feeding into Airbnb’s Head of Deal Operations. Complex and challenging: just our kind of brief!
There were two standout elements to our consultancy. First, brand team interviews and workshops to ensure alignment on the brief, their expectations and what success could look like. Then a pitch programme heavy on interaction and engagement between prospective agencies and the regional Airbnb teams, involving market sprints (brief on Monday, response on Thursday), Airbnb experiences with the brand and agency teams and a big strategic challenge in which the agencies strategic Jedi Knight could shine.
Essence proved themselves to be a Superhost and were awarded the business across all three territories.
With an overwhelming choice of agencies available across the sector, Martin and the team were instrumental in helping find the right partner for us. They supported us all the way through from initial creative agency selections, chemistry to attending final pitches, providing us with invaluable insights, guidance and planning through-out. The service they offer meant that there was no time wasted at any stage and that we had a positive and competitive final pitch.
How we helped Travel Republic
The travel sector is probably one of the most competitive sectors in which any business can operate. There is little differentiation between the products available and, consequently, the brand has become a key asset and point of difference.
The team at Travel Republic are very ambitious and keen to give the brand back its personality which had been diluted over time.
Whilst they were using the pitch to find the right agency partner, there was an added complexity in that the brand had recently taken up a sponsorship opportunity with Take Me Out which meant that not only did any creative vehicle have to work as a programme ident, but these assets had to be delivered less than three weeks after appointment.
In order to facilitate this, additional creative check ins were added to the pitch programme so that when the appointment was made, the appointed agency, which turned out to be The Corner, could start work the next day.
The point about experts is that they know more than you do, and this is no less true when it comes to pitching your business. Having just completed a review of our media agency arrangements I’m pleased that we chose to work with AAR, the experts. We knew what we were doing, and they made it better.
How we helped Zoopla
Like many businesses, Zoopla has been moving to a full funnel approach to marketing and communications, and wanted to ensure they had a media agency partner that would accelerate this change in approach.
The agency landscape is not short of hand-raisers, whatever the question, and our job was to cut through to those that not only had the necessary expertise, but equally important for Zoopla, would be a good fit with the team and other agency partners.
A key requirement was an agency’s proven capability and expertise in data driven and informed media thinking and execution. Zoopla is a marketplace that services two connected audiences, sellers/landlords and buyers/renters and experience of other marketplace businesses was critical.
This meant that the candidate list of agencies was relatively short, and as such, Zoopla was able to spend more time focused on a genuine understanding of each agency’s capabilities, beyond the superficiality of a case study. There was a chance for better engagement with agency team members that, if successful, would be working on the account.
Among stiff competition (isn’t it always), Essence proved themselves to be the team and the agency that Zoopla felt will be the right partner.
A huge thank you to the AAR team for their work on our recent Tetley creative agency review. The team brought invaluable insight, industry knowledge and expertise to the pitch and their advice, challenge and support throughout the process was excellent and delivered a brilliant outcome. And the team was an absolute pleasure to work with!
How we helped Tetley
Tetley has the highest household penetration of all tea brands in England at 36%. But, in an increasingly competitive market, it was felt the brand had become a little dusty and anchored in the past. It needed modernising to engage a younger and broader socio-economic audience to protect market share.
To do this, Tetley required a new brand communication proposition that can live across platforms, media and channels, with a domestic (UK) focus but with assets that might need to travel to other markets in the future.
With very lean internal resource, the Tetley team needed a partner who could do the heavy lifting on this project, acting as an extension of the internal team.
They needed a pitch process that would not be overly engineered but thorough enough to address the necessary levels of governance and reassurance that the right partner had been chosen.
After a four-way pitch, Neverland were appointed as the winning agency. The Tetley team concluded that they were the right partner from a strategic, creative and cultural perspective, and their passion for the brand and their thinking blew them away.
We were looking to appoint a new creative agency partner as we looked to refresh the Alzheimer’s Society brand and act as the external expression of our new organisational strategy and purpose.
We were acutely aware that the agency world is constantly changing and evolving and so we looked to AAR to advise us on who would be the most appropriate partner for our needs. They helped us come up with a fantastic shortlist of agencies and, following a competitive pitch process, we are thrilled to have appointed the team at New Commercial Arts. We’re very excited to see how they can help us support people affected by dementia.
I would, therefore, have no hesitation in recommending AAR to anybody who needs guidance and knowledge when looking to appoint a new agency partner.
How we helped Alzheimer's Society
Dementia is now the UK’s biggest killer, with someone developing it every three minutes. There are 850,000 people with dementia, and this is set to reach 2 million by 2051. One in three people will become a carer for someone with dementia in their lifetime.
Alzheimer’s Society is the UK’s leading dementia charity, campaigning for change, funding research and supporting people living with dementia today.
The Society had recently created a new strategy to provide a unifying, singular sense of organisational purpose so that it can be clearly and succinctly explained to all stakeholders.
They were therefore looking to appoint an external creative agency to work alongside their internal capabilities to plan and deliver the work needed for a brand refresh and execution.
We worked with the team to identify a shortlist of agencies who were invited to pitch, with New Commercial Arts ultimately being appointed.
Having worked with AAR in my previous creative agency life, I knew they were a bunch we could trust to work collaboratively with to deliver against our brief and source the best there was out there. They did not disappoint, now having worked with them this side of the fence too! We were so impressed with the calibre of all the agencies we met with.
They also managed the process beautifully. Their communication was incredibly clear, their approach very pragmatic and work very thorough. We could really rely on them to do all the heavy lifting, freeing up huge amounts of our time we would have otherwise have had to find alongside full time jobs.
I couldn’t recommend them highly enough and will absolutely be working with them, as needs arise, in the future.
How we helped Freesat
Freesat is the UK’s biggest free to air satellite television service. Operating within an increasingly competitive landscape, Freesat has continued to invest and evolve its business. From becoming a manufacturer, to launching a new device, website and a D2C proposition in the short space of 9 months, by early 2021 they had created a unique free to air organisation in the UK.
These businesses changes meant that their communication needs were also changing, and they needed to be sure they had the right partners on board to support the business moving forward.