Advertising: Top 50 Creative Agencies

This year's league of the top-billing creative agencies indicates that advertisers are tending to favour smaller and independent shops over their bigger network rivals, writes Nicola Clark.

The latest annual agency billings figures suggest bigger does not mean better for UK advertising agencies. While billings for JWT and Publicis dropped by a quarter year on year, those for Engine Group's WCRS rose 87% and Publicis' Fallon leapt 150%. Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO - Marketing's Agency of the Year 2007 - retained its position as the biggest billing agency with £386m, despite its total falling 7% from 2006.

Martin Jones, head of advertising at the AAR, says: 'The days of big brands simply handing their accounts to big agencies are long gone. Medium-sized agencies are performing well as some marketing directors fear their brand will be lost at big agencies.'

Fallon London was the star performer, with new business wins including Eurostar, Asda and Cadbury Dairy Milk - which saw the agency go on to produce the 'Gorilla' spot. However, despite the hype surrounding that campaign and the plaudits it brought Fallon, not all clients will be aware of which agency actually made the ad.

'For most clients it is like buying a new car - when you buy a new one you think about it a great deal, but the rest of the time you don't even notice it - until three years later, when you may consider trading it in,' says Jones.

The only ads usually mentioned by marketing directors unprompted are those for The Economist and Honda, by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and Wieden & Kennedy respectively.

Of course, billings are not necessarily the most important measure for marketing directors to judge agencies by. Even when it comes to size alone, procurement specialists suggest looking at staff numbers alongside billings.

Grey London chief executive David Patton, previously vice-president of communication at Sony Electronics Europe, says billings tables help clients to form an early frame of reference about an agency. However, he adds: 'They are a starting point, not a reflection of an agency's creativity or size.'

The number of advertising agencies grew substantially in 2007, with the year's launches including Adam and Eve. This growth is making it more important than ever for marketing directors to know exactly what kind of agency they are looking for if they want to avoid drawn-out pitch processes.

TOP CREATIVE AGENCIES 1-50

07 06 2007 2006
RANK AGENCY BILLINGS (pounds m) % DIFF

1 1 Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO 386.05 415.27 -7.0%
2 3 McCann-Erickson Advertising 287.12 303.96 -5.5%
3 5 M&C Saatchi 262.83 256.03 2.7%
4 6 Bartle Bogle Hegarty 259.38 229.29 13.1%
5 2 JWT London 256.83 344.10 -25.4%
6 18 WCRS 253.53 135.41 87.2%
7 7 Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R 253.03 224.98 12.5%
8 11 Euro RSCG London 240.38 181.76 32.3%
9 4 Publicis 191.25 256.37 -25.4%
10 8 DDB London 188.52 211.13 -10.7%
11 10 Leo Burnett 188.17 182.74 3.0%
12 9 Ogilvy Group 185.05 210.14 -11.9%
13 15 Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners 179.31 149.19 20.2%
14 12 Saatchi & Saatchi 177.03 175.63 0.8%
15 16 TBWA London 167.51 140.40 19.3%
16 13 Grey Worldwide 164.65 169.12 -2.7%
17 24 Fallon London 159.31 63.62 150.4%
18 17 Clemmow Hornby Inge 146.42 139.00 5.3%
19 14 Mother 125.46 160.46 -21.8%
20 19 Lowe 114.03 99.37 14.8%
21 20 Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest 96.37 81.68 18.0%
22 23 Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy 87.71 70.57 24.3%
23 22 The Red Brick Road 86.01 70.58 21.9%
24 27 Wieden & Kennedy 58.90 52.58 12.0%
25 26 Beattie McGuinness Bungay 51.77 54.06 -4.2%
26 29 DraftFCB 50.61 51.13 -1.0%
27 28 RPM3 Beechwood 50.24 52.22 -3.8%
28 25 Public 46.09 55.69 -17.2%
29 30 Uber Agency 44.90 44.00 2.0%
30 38 WFCA Integrated 38.78 28.59 35.7%
31 39 Mustoes 37.26 28.24 31.9%
32 37 Walker Agency 36.92 28.74 28.5%
33 34 Golley Slater Group 34.61 35.37 -2.2%
34 59 Space City Productions 34.40 15.27 125.3%
35 33 Proximity London 33.31 36.21 -8.0%
36 53 Krow Communications 32.11 16.75 91.7%
37 49 Doner Cardwell Hawkins 30.29 18.64 62.5%
38 35 CheethamBellJWT 29.45 33.47 -12.0%
39 40 Bray Leino 27.74 26.27 5.6%
40 46 DFGW 27.69 21.71 27.6%
41 36 St Lukes Communications 26.02 32.62 -20.2%
42 50 Shop 23.21 18.32 26.7%
43 48 Leagas Delaney London 22.36 19.31 15.8%
44 51 Principles Agency 22.20 17.77 25.0%
45 45 WAA 22.12 21.79 1.5%
46 31 Rapier 22.00 21.45 -46.9%
47 32 TBWA\Manchester 21.72 37.14 -41.5%
48 42 WWAV Rapp Collins 21.10 22.92 -7.9%
49 65 Robson Brown 21.02 14.17 48.3%
50 86 Karmarama 20.90 8.25 153.4%


07 06
RANK AGENCY TOP-LINE WINS TOP-LINE LOSSES

1 1 Abbott Mead Clarks, Birds Eye Motorola
Vickers BBDO
2 3 McCann-Erickson Premier Foods, Heinz
Advertising Evening Standard
3 5 M&C Saatchi Ladbrokes, Jameson ITV
4 6 Bartle Bogle LG, ITV SCA Hygiene,
Hegarty Birds Eye
5 2 JWT London Reckitt Benckiser
6 18 WCRS BSkyB, Bacardi 3
Global Brands
7 7 Rainey Kelly Premier Inn, News International
Campbell Roalfe/ Carbon Trust
Y&R
8 11 Euro RSCG 3, Conservative Orange Business
London Party
9 4 Publicis Procter & Gamble, MFI, Asda
Oral-B
10 8 DDB London Training & Hovis
Development Agency
11 10 Leo Burnett Coca-Cola Nintendo
Enterprises
12 9 Ogilvy Group DHL Numico
13 15 Delaney Lund Freeview, HomeForm eBay
Knox Warren
& Partners
14 12 Saatchi & Saatchi Barclays Capital, Lexus, Toyota
Labour Party
15 16 TBWA London E.ON, Unibet Eurostar
16 13 Grey Worldwide Fortis, Toshiba Nokia Live and
Europe Connect
17 24 Fallon London Asda, Eurostar
18 17 Clemmow Hornby Toyota GB, Samsung Premier Foods
Inge
19 14 Mother Motorola, Post The Observer, Egg
Office
20 19 Lowe Beck's, Vauxhall
Zafira
21 20 Vallance Carruthers Comparethemarket.com 3V
Coleman Priest Capital One
22 23 Miles Calcraft Premier Foods, Thorntons
Briginshaw Duffy Vision Express
23 22 The Red Brick Road Sky Networks
24 27 Wieden & Kennedy Nokia, The Observer Yakult
25 26 Beattie McGuinness IKEA, AXA
Bungay
26 29 DraftFCB
27 28 RPM3 Beechwood
28 25 Public
29 30 Uber Agency
30 38 WFCA Integrated
31 39 Mustoes
32 37 Walker Agency
33 34 Golley Slater Group
34 59 Space City
Productions
35 33 Proximity London
36 53 Krow Communications
37 49 Doner Cardwell
Hawkins
38 35 CheethamBellJWT
39 40 Bray Leino
40 46 DFGW
41 36 St Lukes
Communications
42 50 Shop
43 48 Leagas Delaney
London
44 51 Principles Agency
45 45 WAA
46 31 Rapier
47 32 TBWA\Manchester
48 42 WWAV Rapp Collins
49 65 Robson Brown
50 86 Karmarama

Source: Nielsen Media Research

- WCRS moved into Nielsen's top 10 for the first time, with an 87% increase in billings to £253.53m.

FACT FILE - HOLDING GROUP OWNERSHIP OF TOP 10 AGENCIES

WPP JWT London, RKCR/Y&R
Publicis Groupe Publicis owns a 49% stake in Bartle
Bogle Hegarty
Omnicom Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, DDB London
Interpublic McCann Erickson
Havas Euro RSCG London

- Fallon London put in a strong new-business performance in 2007, picking up Asda, Eurostar, Budweiser, Cadbury's Dairy Milk and Lycra.

- Diversification was the order of the day in 2007. According to the IPA Bellwether Report for the fourth quarter of the year, the total share of adspend was estimated at 29.3% on main media, 25% on direct marketing, 8.7% on the internet, 9.5% on sales promotion and 29.3% on 'all other' marketing. For the first time 'all other' was broken down - 8.5% to PR, 8.6% to events and 6.2% to market research.

HOW THE TOP 50 IS COMPILED

The compilation of this league table was an ongoing process. Three months before publication, agencies on Nielsen Media Research's database were emailed and asked to update their billings and give details of account moves (note that updating billings/account move data does not in itself guarantee inclusion). Last year, however, some agencies were late in updating their data, so some 2006 billings printed in this edition - now corrected - will be different to 2006 billings in last year's Top 100.

The media measured in all tables in the report are television, display press, radio, cinema and outdoor (the latter does not include airports, ambient media, international sites or point of sale). Direct marketing and internet spend are not included, hence the low billings for most of the direct marketing agencies featured.

Agency client assignments are compiled by Nielsen Media Research from data supplied by agencies and media owners on a regular basis, alongside information published in the marketing press. The figures are estimated costs of buying media space based on a number of factors, including ratecard, discounts and viewing figures. Data does not include actual billings or agency revenues. Press expenditures include an Advertising Association discount factor, which varies according to sector and quarter.

Not surprisingly, agencies lobby hard to influence the way data is presented; the table can affect everything from share price and client perception to staff motivation. But the objective representation of the dynamic agency market is crucial, so the table was checked rigorously and analysed to ensure the data presented is a fair reflection of the information given.

Nielsen Media Research has listed agencies according to their trading names in 2007. In order for agency brands to be reported as a single listing within the table, the agencies need to have provided Nielsen Media Research with unequivocal proof that they are recognised as one legal entity, which is then checked at Companies House.

The table has been affected by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the US, which prohibits the public release of unaudited financial information. Sarbanes-Oxley has led agencies owned by public holding companies listed in the US, such as Omnicom, Interpublic and WPP, to withhold financial data, hence the absence of declared billings and income data for them this year.

Fallon London 150.4%

Publicis -25.4%.

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