Manifest offers an honest tone, a bold new approach, and is a genuinely different agency which offers a unique view on the future of the industry. One to watch, this is an agency whose teams place innovation and people at the heart of what they do. With a global presence, Manifest is well positioned to grow even further across the world by harnessing their USP to an even greater extent.

Mark of Excellence:

  • WA Communications

Finalists:

  • CIB
  • firstlight public relations
  • Smarts Communicate
  • Third City

Winner entry:

Date of incorporation, number of employees – including executive / support staff – and annual fee income:

Manifest, incorporated in July 2009, is the world’s first independently-owned, ‘Global Small Agency’, helping brands to thrive in the purpose-driven economy. We employ 28 people in London, eight in New York and five in Stockholm. In addition to the roles you’d expect to see at an integrated creative communications agency, we employ a Chief Happiness Officer, an Insights Manager, a Design & Branding Director, a Diversity Officer and two Senior Brand Strategists.

Total fees for the past 12 months = £2,809,079 (38% YoY increase).

Business objectives and analysis of performance against budget over the past three years:

Business objectives:

  • Maintain a 15% fee income growth
  • Increase monthly retained revenues by 30% to grow sustainably
  • Expand our burgeoning brand consultancy work
  • Retain 100% of our team and help Manifest to become not just the best agency to work for, but the best business to work for
  • Become the world’s first global small agency with offices across five continents by 2020

Over the past three years, we’ve set ourselves ambitious and challenging budgets to keep growing from a commercial and creative perspective. In 2015 we managed to grow revenues by 80% but didn’t manage to hit our ambitious budget due to investing in the setup, management and support of our New York office that opened in January 2015. Despite this, Manifest was still named the fastest growing independent agency in PR Week’s Top 150. In 2016 our budget was more modest to maintain commercial momentum and continued to grow sustainably at a rate of 25%. In reality, we broke the £2m barrier, growing revenues by just over 50%. In 2017, we set a more challenging budget with significant growth targets alongside opening a new office in Stockholm. We didn’t quite hit our target but still managed to grow revenues by 38% and profit by a huge 677%. Monthly retained billings increased 57% and our revenue per head increased 15%.

A brief overview of business / team strategy:

Our mission is to help brands change the world for the better. Our 2017 strategy was ‘Drive it like you stole it’ – a call to our teams to deliver exceptional, innovative and integrated creative work, while also reinventing the industry.

Business goals focused on maintaining 15% fee income growth through more integrated services and campaigns, growing average retained income, increasing monthly retained income by 30%, expanding our burgeoning brand consultancy work and increasing profits 50%.

Additionally, newly launched Manifest Stockholm needed to add skills and services to the Group including dedicated SEO and SMO expertise.

A summary of commitment to CPD and professionalism:

Training and career progression is a priority at Manifest. In 2017 we developed a bespoke appraisal system to track career progress and identify comms potential. We increased our training budget so that on average, we spend a minimum of 5-10% of each person’s salary per year on professional development. Manifest Diploma includes a mix of internal and external training for everyone. We place a high value on putting each team member in the driving seat of their own career progression and in the past year we have created new roles based on staff members’ skills and passions.

In August 2017 we did away with the traditional PR agency structure to better deliver seamless, cross-discipline work for clients and to develop multi-skilled comms professionals. We split our account management team into two camps called the Helix Model – account managers (handling planning, client liaison, reporting and logistics) and Campaign Managers (a new title responsible for creative development and campaign content).

We involved the whole team in writing job specifications and one-to-ones with every member of the team and senior management meant individual concerns were addressed. It’s been an unequivocal success, with unanimously positive client and staff feedback, and a 22% increase in productivity, as well as contributing to a 10% increase in staff mobility (average time taken for promotion) this year.

Our ‘Client Scorecard’ ensures we not only take on clients and briefs that match our ethical standpoint but also those that match our creative ambitions.

A summary of recent outstanding achievements, including client list growth / retention:

  • We ensured to maintain our culture as the business grew internationally by launching a groundbreaking agency manual called Welcome Home Sexy, which has been deployed as a mobile app, with a client service version launching in March 2018.
  • We developed numerous policies to help onboard new starters, including a special grant – offering £1k to people if they leave in the first 3 months; if they choose to stay, they give the £1k to someone who helped them feel welcome.
  • We tackled the growing significance of influencer relations by building our own proprietary influencer relations platform, Roger® – running campaigns for KITE Eyewear, Homebase and Sony PlayStation in its first 6 months.
  • A string of industry accolades included our first Global Sabre Award. The Sabre Awards and PRWeek named us one of the Best Agencies to Work For. Our CEO Alex Myers was in PRWeek’s Powerbook for the first time and our Head of Diversity, Julian Obubo was our third current member of staff named in PRWeek’s 30-under-30.
  • Our pitch win rate rose to 87% as we picked up briefs from VICE, Homebase, Sony PlayStation, All Bar One, Origin Wines, Houdini, Sweatcoin, Giraffe, Vivino and ofo. BrewDog – our client for 8 years – handed us an expanded global brief.
  • Pro bono work for the Camden Highline united the team around a project that will change our local community, and we provided support for Apps for Good, Stress Down Day and Macmillan Cancer Care free of charge.

A summary of a campaign you are particularly proud of, including details of the brief, objectives, strategy, tactics, outputs, outcomes and budget:

Building a bar across the US/Mexico border with BrewDog:

As BrewDog opened the doors of its US brewery, we wanted to show the world that the brand doesn’t just stand for collaboration and community, it stands up for it. So, we took on one of the biggest challenges to a mindset of openness and collaboration – Trump’s proposed wall – by planning the first ever cross-border bar. The global media went borderline crazy.

Objectives:

  • Provide a vehicle for the craft beer community to affect the global news agenda and make their voice of collaboration heard.

Strategy & implementation:

  • We identified a location, organised the land purchase and designed the first ever cross-border bar, utilising myriad legal loopholes.
  • Told the world about it across paid, earned, shared and owned media.

Results:

  • 203 pieces of global coverage with an OTS of 796,274,080
  • BrewDog’s UK sales increased 93% compared with the same period last year – with no other marketing activity taking place during the campaign.
  • BrewDog regained its number 1 spot in UK breweries share of voice, marking Manifest’s return to UK press office work following a brief hiatus.