Initiative and CHI head new-business league

Initiative and Clemmow Hornby Inge have won more new business this year than any other media or creative agency, according to Campaign's new-business league tables for 2003.

Initiative, led by Jerry Hill, takes the number-one slot in the media league, mainly for its £68 million France Telecom win. The creative league is dominated by CHI, led by Johnny Hornby. Wins including Anchor, British Gas, Expedia, The One Account and Talk Talk secured it the number-one spot.

Compiling the league has, as always, been fraught with difficulty. As a representative from the IPA's New-Business Director's Forum remarked in an unguarded moment earlier in the year, she inflates the value of her agency's wins "because everybody else does".

Well, only some do. And we try hard to deflate all the false claims back to their true level. That is why, looking at the two leagues now, they are as representative as possible of who has enjoyed new-business success this year.

Wily agency folk did find a loophole this year, which has subsequently been closed and their figures adjusted downward. They got clients to send us e-mails or letters boasting an inflated (or, more generously, over-optimistic) spend. So Air Miles contacted Campaign to confirm that its spend was rising by about 2,400 per cent to £12 million and that Grey should be credited with said figure.

The spend appeared plausible at first (Grey was going to handle a relaunch), but in an unexpected act of contrition Grey's chief Garry Lace recently phoned up and admitted the figure was actually closer to £5 million.

The jury's still out on the British Gas claim that it is raising its above-the-line budget to £35 million. After much careful consideration, Clemmow Hornby Inge was given £30 million on the league for the win.

Axa too has a lot of spending to do if J. Walter Thompson's claim that its win was worth £23 million is to prove true. The company spent about £4 million through TBWA\London before the review. Axa's advertising has been hard to spot for some time.

Leo Burnett has asked us to credit it with £52 million for its Wella win, perfectly timed to land the agency in the top ten for Campaign's last issue of the year. Guess what? Wella's UK billings, according to Nielsen Media Research, for the past 12 months, are £3.6 million.

BLM too has been in touch to find out if we have added its claimed £2 million win from the Qatar Tourist Board. The answer is no.

So as the 2003 league comes to a close, a reminder of the rules for next year. We use Nielsen to judge the value of an account win or a loss. There are few exceptions and we treat them on a case-by-case basis. It's above-the-line spend only and it's UK spend only. Agencies don't get extra billings from existing clients unless they were awarded the business after a pitch.

That's it. Pretty simple. We look forward to your honesty in 2004.

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