Adland hit as billings collapse

LONDON - Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Ogilvy Advertising have dropped out of the top ten advertising agencies list after taking a massive hit to their billings in 2009.

Nielsen... 2009 billings table
Nielsen... 2009 billings table

Following a year in which figures from The Nielsen Company show scarce instances of billings growth, even Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and McCann Erickson - which held their positions as number one and number two respectively – saw billings drop by £39.2m and £48.6m, compared with final 2008 figures.

BBH took the biggest knock of the top 20 agencies. Its slide of almost 25% wiped £59.1m off its 2008 billings and pulled it down the rankings from fourth to 11th. Ogilvy slipped four places to 13 with a £31.3m billings decrease, while Wieden & Kennedy dropped six to 31 with a 41% billings fall.

The biggest billings success of 2009 was Fallon, one of only five top 20 agencies to show growth. The agency, which has since faced significant business losses, including Asda and Sony, leapt into the top ten with an 18.5% increase that took it to number three.

The other new entrant to the top ten was Leo Burnett, whose renaissance as a new-business machine was reflected in a 7.9% billings rise that lifted the agency three places to nine. Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R and WCRS both nudged upwards within the top 10, despite small billings declines.

Yet in this year of plummeting media spends, there were some notable risers. Rapier put on 152.6% – £39.3m – and shot up 19 places to 24, thanks to work for Yell and B&Q, which subsequently moved to McCann. And VCCP grew by 35.5%, moving it up to 21st, as it added billings of £22.5m.

Further down the rankings, other agencies whose performances stood out include Adam & Eve, which saw billings rise by 564.5%, Iris, whose billings grew by 604.9% and Brothers and Sisters, which swelled its billings by 133.7%. All three have entered the top 50.

You can see the full tables, including digital billings for the first time, and the School Reports, in the 19 March issue of Campaign.