200 for 2000: Top 20 Media Agencies - Media on the edge of transformation - Media planning and buying agencies are trying to guide clients through the digital revolution, but at the same time facing a huge shake-up in their own market

Take a good look at this league table of media agencies and their respective billings. Because if there is one sector in this whole supplement where names and places are most likely to change within the next 12 months, it is probably in the media planning and buying industry.

Take a good look at this league table of media agencies and their

respective billings. Because if there is one sector in this whole

supplement where names and places are most likely to change within the

next 12 months, it is probably in the media planning and buying


There is a sense of change waiting to happen in the UK media


Despite talks of consolidation and mergers and acquisitions, the past

year has seen something of a lull in activity. The big agency networks

have yet to take the bull by the horns in the UK market and converge

operations, which would give the kind of critical mass required to match

the consolidation of media ownership. Whether that means Aegis buying

Zenith, Interpublic Group bringing together Initiative and Western, or

the newly formed BDM merging Starcom with MediaVest remains to be seen.

But many of the agencies in this league table are in one way or another

’in play’ either within their own networks, or as potential targets.

Despite being the UK’s biggest media buying agency, Zenith Media remains

the most likely acquisition target.

Zenith has lost some business this year, including the pounds 3m

Powergen account and pounds 5m Tetley Tea, but this is small beer

compared to one of the biggest account wins of the year - the pounds 36m

consolidated Mars business picked up in October. Its other significant

win was the pounds 8m Littlewoods account picked up in April.

Under chief executive Graham Duff and managing director Simon Marquis,

the memory of Zenith as Christine Walker’s agency is now fading


But industry observers believe Aegis has not given up on hopes of


Which takes us to the second placed agency Carat, which has restructured

its key management this year. Mark Craze is now chief executive across

the Carat UK operation and looking hard at where improvements can be

made.The agency this month acquired Feather Brooksbank in Scotland for

pounds 7.5m. It will merge the agency with its Manchester operation.

Wins this year have included Sega Dreamcast, worth pounds 8m, Dolphin

pounds 3m, and Primus Telecom pounds 10m. But its losses included pounds

11.6m in PepsiCo business, pounds 5m from Reckitt & Colman, with Carat

Manchester losing the pounds 12m Iceland business. Wal-Mart’s

acquisition of Asda could be a potential boost to billings next


BMP OMD takes the third slot. In terms of new business this year it has

picked up several accounts including Boo.com (pounds 1.5m) Gillette

(pounds 2.4m) and Exchange Holdings (pounds 2m), but lost some sizable

chunks of business in the form of Sony (pounds 10m) and Britvic (pounds


Lottery bonanza

The agency can also expect significant spending by Camelot next year as

it moves into the last stages of its licence, and promotes its case for

running the National Lottery after 2001.

The merged MediaCom TMB agency takes the fourth spot in the billings

league. Its most spectacular win this year was the pounds 80m VW

account, adding to pounds 4m from Scottish Telecom and pounds 12m from

Iceland. On the debit side it lost pounds 15m in Mars business as part

of the centralisation, and a pounds 7m account from Warner Bros.

WPP owned MindShare, the joint JWT and O&M media operation came together

in reality in June last year when it moved into its new modernist

offices in Charing Cross Road. 1999 has been a steady year for the

operation with a series of new business wins, most notably the pounds

15m account to launch Open, pounds 20m in Britvic work won in June and

pounds 13m Mazda business in August.

The agency also has a top team in the shape of Mandy Pooler, chief

executive and Simon Rees managing director. Losses in this year were

Bupa (pounds 4.5m) and Woolwich (pounds 2.5m).

Below the top five is IPG-owned Initiative, which has had a quiet year

following its successes of 1998. Admittedly the managing team of Roy

Jeans and Tony Manwaring have been busy bedding in the new business won

in 1998, which included LVMH (pounds 10m), Calvin Klein (pounds 10m),

Johnson & Johnson (pounds 18m) and Timberland (pounds 1m). This August

it picked up the Cisco account worth pounds 4m. But it has lost no

business this year and its management’s philosophy seems to be steady as

she goes.

Universal McCann, which had an outstanding 1988 continued to go from

strength to strength in 1999, and IPG is now in the process of renaming

all of its media businesses with the ’Universal’ brand. Universal under

its joint managing directors Fiona Smedley and Chris Shaw lists its wins

this year as Mastercard (pounds 5m), Reckitt & Colman (pounds 5m) and

Nintendo (pounds 5m).

MediaVest, one of the sharpest media operators in town, has had a

difficult couple of years. In 1998 it spent the best part of the year in

abortive discussions with Leo Burnett about a possible merger. To make

matters worse it had resigned the pounds 8m KFC business so it wouldn’t

clash with Burnett’s McDonald’s account.

This year the agency has been trying to get back to business as usual,

but its billings have dropped year on year and in October it lost pounds

21m in Mars business.

Its wins were Bupa (pounds 4.5m) at the beginning of the year and Tetley

Tea (pounds 5m) in October. But they have done little to make up for the

lost revenues over the past couple of years.

Ironically, MediaVest is now facing more uncertainty after Leo Burnett

and MacManus concluded a merger earlier this month. So far the newly

created business, named BDM, says its media interests will remain

distinct, with Starcom up and running.

New PHD, generally agreed by media commentators to be the media agency

of the year in 1998, has had another strong year with a series of

business wins, including Warner Bros Distributors (pounds 7m),

Sainsbury’s regional work and the COI’s pounds 15m anti-smoking


It has also spent the year bedding down the major accounts it won in

1998, including BT’s pounds 100m strategic planning account. The agency

has also been responsible for media buying on ONdigital’s account, which

has seen significant spend in the London area.

New PHD has done what many of its rivals aspire to do, prove that an

agency can combine sharp strategic thinking with big media accounts.

Sitting below New PHD is CIA Medianetwork, an agency which shows how

quickly fortunes can change in the media business. Five years ago the

agency was a major player, ranked among the biggest in billings and the

best in terms of prospects. Then came the debacle with the ITV sales

house Laser which damaged its credibility.

That period led to a downward spiral in its fortunes, with the agency

losing confidence and clients. It also led to a shake out of senior


To try and stem the losses it bolted Tony Kenyon’s IDK buying business

on to CIA, which included the BT account. But this too disappeared last

year when BT reviewed and moved the account into Nigel Allmond’s start

up The Allmond Partnership, backed by Manning Gottlieb Media.

Tempus, CIA’s parent company has spent the last two years trying to get

the CIA brand back on track.

To date CIA’s record this year on business won and lost comes out about

equal - with wins including the Digital Broadcasting Company (pounds 3m)

and Raleigh Bikes (pounds 1.2m) and losses of IPC (pounds 300,000),

Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries (pounds 1m) and Jordans (pounds


Mediapolis has not had the happiest experiences with car clients. A

couple of years ago it lost the Peugeot-Citroen business, and this year

it parted with Mercedes, a pounds 15m piece of business, which moved to

Bozell Worldwide in a global agency realignment. Compensation came in

the form of a number of smaller account wins across the year, including

Bayer (pounds 4.8m), Campbell Distillers (pounds 1.5m), the new budget

airline buzz (pounds 3.5m) and Jordans (pounds 2m).

The agency continues to handle strategic planning on the Camelot


Consistent converts

Optimedia continues to be an agency without a clear-cut personality or

brand, but one which nevertheless seems to keep its clients happy, gets

on some good pitch lists and converts much of the business.

This year has seen it pick up business across the year, including the

National Bingo Gaming Association (pounds 5m), Woolwich (pounds 10m)

Marks & Spencer (pounds 2m) and UK Plus (pounds 1m). Its only loss has

been the pounds 5m Mastercard business back in June.

Leo Burnett’s media operation became Starcom this year. It marked the

change by winning the pounds 21m Heinz business in July.

Major question marks are hanging over BBJ Media Services. Not least

among these was the international movement of the VW business, which saw

it lose pounds 80m in business in August, although the UK operation had

denied it was going to be effected.

It was announced that Trista Grant, McCann’s former media chief, was to

return from Australia to take over BBJ. Its former managing director

Jerry Buhlmann has moved to take over Carat International.

Manning Gottlieb Media has had a year of solid business achievement,

with new wins including Absolut Vodka (pounds 1m) Swiftcall (pounds 2m),

Dr Martens (pounds 1.5m) and Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries (pounds


But its biggest new business has been a piece of organic growth - from

one of its best clients, Virgin. The agency has been picked to handle

planning and buying for Virgin Mobile, which launched this month, and is

expected to spend around pounds 20m over the next year. Its only loss

across the year to date has been Raleigh Bikes which peddled off to


The astonishing rise in billings for MGM can be attributed to the buying

for BT by The Allmond Partnership, which is done through MGM.

Western under its managing director Mike Tunnicliffe has had a good

year, which will allow it to resist moves by IPG to look for a merger

between it and its sister agency Initiative.

Its wins have included FT.com, a significant spender this year, which

will probably boost its budget next year. Airtours landed its pounds 8m

account in the agency in April followed by Powergen’s pounds 10m in May

and October saw it pick up the Encyclopaedia Britannica account

worthpounds 1.5m.

Planning push

Its only loss has been Carlton TV’s pounds 1m account. Tunnicliffe has

worked successfully to promote the research and planning side of

Western’s offering, and build the agency as a brand.

Motive, which is 49% owned by Leo Burnett, is another agency which has

resisted being dragged into a merger by virtue of its strong brand and

successful record. This year has seen it continue that performance with

a string of new business wins, including Kia’s pounds 5m account, the

pounds 10m Videonet account, the pounds 6m HFC Card and the pounds 2m

launch media business for TheStreet.com.

Walker Media continues in its avaricious fashion to seize new business

at an astonishing rate. The fact that less than two years after its

launch it is now a top 20 agency is testament to the standing of its two

founding partners, Christine Walker and Phil Georgiadis.

Wins have included Storehouse (pounds 3.5m), IPC (pounds 4.5m), Excite

(pounds 2m) Young’s (pounds 1.5m), IPC Electric (pounds 4.4m), New

Zealand Tourist Board (pounds 500,000), the Tobacco Manufacturers

Association (pounds 1m) and Dyson (pounds 5m).

None of these have matched the major business wins of its first year,

but Walker Media continues to grow at an astonishing rate. Next year

will also see the agency benefit from what will be a significant spend

by the New Millennium Experience Company, to promote the Dome.

The biggest change in the table is. Saatchi & Saatchi out of the top 20,

from 17 this time last year to number 30. Its sharp 65% drop in billings

to pounds 32.2m is down to Procter & Gamble’s media review which saw it

consolidate business into Starcom at the beginning of the year. The

dramatic change in Saatchis’ fortune is a reminder of why the media

agencies are still jostling for positions and partners and looking for

further consolidation of the sector.

Top 20 Media agencies

Rank Year   Agency                         Billings Year Ending Yr on Yr

Ending                                     Sep 99        Sep 98        %

Sep99 Sep98                            (pounds m)    (pounds m)   Change

 1    1     Zenith Media Services          575.43        536.04        7

 2    2     Carat Group                    504.28        472.73        6

 3    3     BMP OMD                        367.13        360.90        1

 4    7     MediaCom TMB                   365.44        333.23        9

 5    6     MindShare Media                348.79        338.27        3

 6    8     Initiative Media London        337.82        279.79       20

 7    9     Universal McCann               336.13        266.19       26

 8    10    New PHD                        316.76        236.62       33

 9    5     MediaVest                      314.30        338.77       -7

10    4     CIA Medianetwork               253.29        342.77      -26

11    12    Optimedia International        217.33        182.18       19

12    11    Mediapolis                        205        201.94        1

13    18    Manning Gottlieb Media         195.11         85.49      128

14    13    BBJ                            192.24        175.13        9

15    14    Starcom                        177.61        149.86       18

16    16    Motive Communications          168.62        121.02       39

17    15    Western International Media    162.73        141.55       14

18    32    Walker Media                   121.08         23.67      411

19    22    CDP Media                       76.95         52.02       47

20    24    MBS Group                       61.45         42.40       44


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