It's a long and sometimes bumpy journey, but it's a journey worth making.
Agency 2002 remains the only report to study the performance of agencies in every marketing sector over the past 12 months - and to recognise the very best in each.
So what have we discovered, besides ten worthy winners in their fields?
The theme that runs throughout these pages is that, in 2002 at least, biggest was not necessarily best. Only five of the ten winners in these pages are top 20 agencies within their sectors; only one of the winners tops their sector table.
Given the parlous state of the global economy, the advertising recession in particular, and diminishing client budgets in many marketing sectors the ascendancy of these smaller agencies should surprise no one. Testing economic conditions makes for client polarisation. As a rule, big multinational clients will play it safe and steady while dynamic domestic brands, or those with significant UK autonomy, will take risks not in spite of, but because of, the climate.
That is why agencies with strong and distinct cultures, and with the best creative credentials have prospered in 2002. In above the line, media, design, PR and even telemarketing, scale has been less of a winning criterion than innovation and creativity. Where the top 20 agencies have triumphed, in below the line, new media, research and field marketing, the victors are united by having done something out of the ordinary in their sectors.
The criteria we use to decide upon these agencies of the year include effectiveness for clients, new business success, creativity, original research methodologies, marketing software or technical solutions. The winners have demonstrated extraordinary success in one or many of these - and any client could benefit by having them on their roster.
For the agencies themselves, an outstanding 2002 is unlikely to be the zenith of their success. The buzz that they have created, and the achievements they have made for their clients, are likely to attract the attention and budgets of other clients in 2003 looking to take great strides rather than make small steps.
Great marketing begets great marketing, and we are proud of the part that Agency 2002 plays in identifying its originators over the past 12 months.