No doubt many agency managers will be poring over this week’s
Campaign Top 300 report, cutting the numbers this way and that, and
producing rankings by one pet set of criteria or another. There are a
number of observations about the debate that are worth making here.
The big agencies are getting bigger - and not just Abbott Mead Vickers
BBDO, which takes the top slot this year, rising from fourth in 1995.
Looking at ACN MEAL figures only, billings for the Top 30 agencies rose
by about 18 per cent across the sector. Cutting out the dramatic swings
recorded by M&C Saatchi (up 166 per cent) and Howell Henry Chaldecott
Lury (up 88 per cent), the average change was plus 9 per cent. In a
climate where the number of pitches has fallen and more work has stayed
with incumbents - although the average value of moves has increased -
this is pretty encouraging.
The picture is even better - on a corporate rather than a human level -
if changes in staffing levels are taken into account. Many of the
agencies that increased their billings levels by above-average
percentages (Young and Rubicam, Collett Dickenson Pearce, HHCL and
others) did so with the same staff numbers.
Finally, we know that agencies, bless you all, are confirmed optimists
by nature, but a few of the big shops claimed billings increases so out
of line with ACN MEAL figures that we cannot let them go unremarked.
Brickbats, therefore, to McCann-Erickson (pounds 209 million over) J.
Walter Thompson (pounds 132 million over), Grey (pounds 118 million
over), Saatchi and Saatchi (pounds 101 million over) and Ogilvy and
Mather (pounds 86 million over). Letters of explanation to the editor by
next week, please, chaps.
Bizarrely enough, the spin doctors at M&C Saatchi earn themselves a
bouquet for claiming pounds 16 million less than the ACN MEAL figure of
pounds 175 million.
All the more reason to keep a close eye on the fastest growing shop in