I thought my theme might be one of resurrection, or the potential for it. After a general year of turmoil in the traditional creative agencies, it seemed as though by the end of the year many of the networked shops could be ready for a fight back. New managements, some improving creativity, greater integration: could the traumas of 2007 have cleared the decks ready for the resurgence of the big agency?
Well, maybe. But once I saw some of the charts in this book, it was clear the old world order has a bigger challenge on its hands than even I thought. Some of the declines registered here are shocking. So while all that turmoil was clearly imperative as agencies struggled to find a firmer footing, for many agencies there remains so much more to do.
All of which made scoring performance a thorny job. Disaster at one end of the year was often tailed by a wholesale change at the other; many agencies ended the year in a very different state to the one they began it with and already 2008 has added more significant change. Finding over-arching scores that reflect such swings has been no mean feat.
Compiling this year's report was also made more challenging by the drive towards integration. Sibling agencies are increasingly integrating, but often without jettisoning their own identities. So should group brands that are being pulled together in a unified offer be regarded as a single entity, or recorded and evaluated by their separate identities?
Inevitably we've had to use our own judgment and where the integrated offer seems stronger than the separate agency brands, we've rolled them into one report. I suspect our difficulties over this issue simply reflect companies' own confused, transitional state.
Overall what's clear from the drama of 2007 and the stories told in this report is that the advertising industry confronted many of its demons last year and made a play to rearchitect its models and refine its resources. Let's hope it's enough to weather whatever 2008 holds.
Claire Beale, editor, Campaign