Opinion: Billings figures testify to success stories of 1996

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.

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

town.



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