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The Showcase 2023

Walking The Talk: Why 2023 Was NCA's Best Year Yet

From coveted accounts wins to top-notch creative work, NCA soared this year

By Creative Salon

Though only three years old, New Commercial Arts has always felt like a fully-formed mature agency. And 2023 proved this point when the business landed some of the most coveted accounts of the year, launched some of the highest-profile work and proved itself one of the best agencies in the industry. It was quite the year!

Creative Salon on NCA's 2023

NCA's year kicked off with the appointment of the agency's first managing director when the hugely impressive Hannah White was promoted. It was a key move for an agency that has grown so quickly and now boasts such sizeable accounts.

Talking of sizeable accounts, when NCA resigned Halifax in February it was certainly no cause for concern: within a few weeks the agency was appointed to handle the Nationwide business, reuniting NCA founders James Murphy and David Golding with Nationwide's CMO Catherine Kehoe.

By April, NCA had added the fiercely contested Sainsbury's account to its client roster and its status as one of the most successful agencies of the year was sealed.

But that wasn't the end of the wins. In the summer the agency scooped the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home business, then bolstered its Vodafone relationship by winning a global brand brief for the business division.

It was a terrific new business year that catapulted NCA to the top echelons of the agency market.

But it wasn't just the wins that marked this out as NCA's year. The agency's creative product moved to a whole new level with a breadth of work and a level of craftsmanship from the strategic heft of Rob Curran and his UX team to some of the most high-profile and well-regarded TV campaigns of the year. Creative founder Ian Heartfield can look back on his team's 2023 with huge satisfaction; the agency even won its first Cannes Lion - for "The Ultimate Vow" for Alzheimer's Society.

Top of the creative highs were the agency's first Christmas campaign for Sainsbury's and it's first TV campaign for Nationwide.

The Nationwide ad, starring a gloriously obnoxious Dominic West as the uncaring chief of A.N.Y Bank, was the impressive tip of a wholesale business transformation at Nationwide that NCA has worked on, transforming the brand through all consumer touchpoints in the company's biggest rebrand for 36 years.

Taking on the challenge of Sainsbury's Christmas campaign was also elegantly handled, with the work named one of the top ten most effective festive ads according to System1.

But it was a raft of campaigns for Alzheimer's Society and Nando's that showed the agency's strength and depth across both traditional creative and UX creative.

For Alzheimer's Society, NCA led a complete brand refresh which included the beautifully moving, award-winning "Ultimate Vow" campaign to add to its tremendous body of work for the charity.

For Nando's the agency has been working on a complete overhaul of the customer experience and marked this with a new brand platform that highlighted the different unique experiences of dining at the restaurant chain.

And Dame Judi Dench returned for MoneySuperMarket for a campaign that the brand's chief executive Peter Duffy said has been the company’s “best performing to date”, driving brand consideration up by 14 per cent and purchase intent up by 6 per cent.

To support all of this new business and creative output, NCA made a number of key hires and promotions across the year. As well White's MD-ship, James Derrick stepped up from business director to head of client service and Lauren Nuttall was promoted from business director to head of account management.

Then towards the end of the year Imogen Turner, the senior manager of new business development at VMLY&R, was recruited as business development director.

With a bolstered bench of talent, NCA looks hungry for more of the same sort of success in 2024.

Creative Salon says: There was never any doubt that the combination of James Murphy, David Golding, Ian Heartfield and Rob Curran would make New Commercial Arts a success. But even the agency's biggest supporters might have been shy to predict it would become one of the industry's most successful agencies so soon. But together with fresh talent like MD Hannah White and artistic director Nici Hofer, the NCA crew claimed 2023 as their year. The thing is, we wouldn't bet against them doing the same in 2024.


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