Does size matter? We hope it doesn’t, but secretly believe it does.
More importantly, we feel that even if we don’t think it matters, to the
people we want to impress, it does.
For men, read advertising agencies - most, of course, are run by men
anyway. In London there has long been an obsession with being the
biggest agency. It was epitomised by the Saatchi brothers at Charlotte
Street, but it coursed through the veins of many of their rivals.
When Charlotte Street and J. Walter Thompson were battling it out
through the 80s and 90s there was a certain logic to size (and still is)
when it came to media buying. This no longer applies to most of the top
20 advertising agencies. Curiously, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, currently
powering away as Britain’s largest advertising agency, is far less
obsessed with its size than its predecessors in that slot, although it
has recognised the need for greater volume in media buying.
So how to explain how elated Ogilvy & Mather will be to have overtaken
its sister agency, JWT, this summer, to move into second place, or how
delighted Charlotte Street is with its huge increase in billings this
year? Similarly, the Interpublic Group will be mortified that its three
agencies are outside the top ten. Is this the case anywhere else in the
The certain size requirement that some advertisers demand before putting
you on their list now seems to be less important for many clients
ranging from Coca-Cola to the COI. If you’re not part of a plc group
then being bigger and winning business is today more about motivation;
about giving staff new challenges to work on. Looking at the top 20 and
beyond, there’s a lot of very good agencies, big and small, many of them
doing well. It seems that London is finally learning the lesson women
taught men years ago: it’s not the size, it’s what you do with it that