Mike Sell and Guy Sellers

The Showcase 2022


40 Years Young - ambition, culture and conscience: Total Media's 2022

The media independent showed no signs of slowing down as new business, a new CEO and an enviable culture fuelled a strong year

By Creative Salon

2022 was the year when Total Media celebrated its 40th anniversary. But there were no signs of a middle aged slow-down. With a new CEO, a strong commitment to B-Corp, impressive new business momentum and a vibrant agency culture, Total Media can notch its 41st year down as one of real progress.

Under the lead of its still hands-on founders - group CEO Guy Sellers and chairman Mike Sell - and newly elevated CEO Tom Laranjo, Total Media remains one of those rarest of things these days: a successful independent media player.

Here Sellers gives us his take on the agency's year and, below, Creative Salon takes Total Media's temperature.

Guy Sellers, Total Media's group CEO, on his company's 2022

What three words would you use to describe 2022

Sustainability – Staffing - Growth

Talk us through some of your agency’s highlights

Achieving B-Corp accreditation in late 2021 was a huge moment for us but it was in 2022 that the effects were properly felt. The accreditation provides a North Star for all our people and potential recruits in terms of the agency’s values and how it behaves. Having the independent assessment gives credibility to sustainability claims both internally and externally. This year we have increasingly made sustainability-based choices across a range of issues such as business travel, electric cars, carbon offsetting (seeing us become carbon neutral), office supplies, to clients we work with. As a result, we have won clients with common values and, equally, turned away opportunities without feeling discomfort.

Key hires, such as Guillermo Dvorak, our new head of digital, are always a highlight. Fresh thinking and clear leadership boost teams to new levels. Meanwhile, our DE&I team has explored new ways to reach new talent and the move away from the classic routes has moved our profiles firmly ahead of industry benchmarks.

Finally, there is nothing like winning new business to validate what you do and deliver a shot in the arm to the agency. This year we have won a range of UK and International accounts including Abel & Cole, Allurion, Purity Drinks, Book Tokens, Dr Beckman, Manutan and Jack Wolfskin.

What one thing are you proudest of this year?

The last few years have included, in some order, the effects of Brexit, Covid, lockdown, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and now, recession. Being able to keep going and growing has been the proudest achievement; over the past three years the Group has more than doubled its billings and income with strong growth across all three offices (London, Solihull and Manchester). This has all been achieved while we have been atomised in lockdown and then a stuttering return to offices. Keeping the teams focused, motivated and producing great work is a real credit to managers throughout the company.

What has been your biggest challenge?

The turnover of staff and competition for replacements or additions has been an on-going challenge in 2022. I know most agencies, particularly those with digital profiles, have felt this and the impact on recruitment time and costs. Exploring new routes to recruits has helped to some extent although some normalisation in the recruitment market is being felt with more anticipated next year.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?

Starting with the knowledge, experience and gains we made over the last three years offers confidence for 2023. Coupled with a sense that clients are looking favourably on the independent media sector we are looking forward to what the year holds.

What one change would you most like to see in our industry next year?

The consideration, respect and trust that developed between agencies, clients and media owners during lockdown was a particularly positive outcome that developed under intense pressure. My hoped-for change is that this survives.

Creative Salon on Total Media's 2022

The agency kicked off 2022 by promoting its thoughtful, decent and quietly very impressive MD, Tom Laranjo, to the new role of CEO. It speaks volumes about the agency's culture that Laranjo joined the business back in 2006, was instrumental in the push to B-Corp status and was also the key driver behind the agency's Behave consultancy.

Other hires across the year included strategist Kieren Mills who joined as head of broadcast, Guillermo Dvorak, previously head of performance at Reprise Digital, who joined as head of digital, and the promotion of Liz Duff to head of commercial and operations.

New business wins included Abel & Cole, the organic delivery service, which appointed Total Media to handle its buying across TV, out of home, programmatic, paid social and search, with the aim of establishing the brand as the go-to sustainable online shop.

Creative Salon Says: Total Media is one of those companies that has always been more about substance than show. Its founding principles reside in thoughtfulness and decency and they hold as strong today as they did 40 years ago. As one of the few remaining media independents, it's really reassuring to see the agency so full of life and ambition this year, expanding its international presence, carrying its B-Corp status with such energetic pride and reaping the rewards of its positioning as an intelligent partner for brands.

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