Multi-specialist best known for creative consumer work
When Lexis develops a campaign, it goes for what managing director Hugh Birley calls the “blimey, Dave” factor—a big idea that will get people talking about a product, service, or idea at the local pub, and the structure of the firm is designed to support the generation of such ideas. Lexis was among the first U.K. PR firms to set up separate creative department, led by creative director Eddie Buckley. The firm also employs two planners whose background is in the advertising business, exchanging real estate space for their input on new business and account strategy. It’s an approach that ensures ideas are both creative and strategically on-target, and has kept Lexis in the front rank of U.K. independents in terms of both size and reputation.
Founded in 1992, Lexis had 2004 fee income of £4.7 million—up about 16 percent over last year—putting it just outside the top 10 of the post-Sarbanes Oxley league tables. But the firm has been able to hold on to its image as a creative hot shop despite its growth and maturity—earning PR Week Awards this year for Campaign of the Year, Consumer Marketing Campaign of the Year, and Corporate Marketing Campaign of the Year—and has clearly answered any questions about whether Birley and his young management team would be able to sustain the momentum built by founders Bill Jones and Tim Adams, who departed in 2002. In fact, they’ve built on that momentum, and the past 12 months have seen 23 new business wins, including Birdseye (healthcare and nutrition and product marketing), Sprite and Persil in the consumer practice; the Rugby Football Union and Ultimatepoker.com in the sports sector; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for a sponsorship project; Rentokil; and Esselte, the world’s biggest office supplies company, in the business communications arena.
About 60 percent of the firm’s work (including about £250,000 in fees from consumer healthcare work) is in the consumer space, managed by joint practice leaders Fiona Jolly and Marilyn Wicks, with a healthcare practice that doubled in size last year, and the remainder of revenue split between business-to-business and corporate work. The firm also has an entire team devoted to sponsorship exploitation (it would rank among the top 10 sponsorship firms in the U.K.), working with clients such as Barclay’s, nPower, and the Rugby Football Union. And finally, the firm does some public affairs work for clients such as Domino’s—a practice it would like to expand—and handles crisis and issues management projects, on alcohol issues for Diageo, and obesity and nutrition concerns for several food and beverage clients.
Other interesting work includes the firm’s work for Unilever’s Dove brand on the U.K. end of its signature Real Women campaign. Lexis works closely with advertising and other marketing agencies, providing editorial credibility to a powerful ad message. The firm has also expanded its work with Vauxhall, helping the automaker with its efforts to target female consumers, and continues to work with Coca-Cola on brands including Diet Coke and Sprite, and more recently on the launch of its Nestea joint venture with Nestle.
Lexis works primarily within the U.K., but has occasionally been called upon by U.S. clients to act as a hub for European work.