It’s that time of year again. The Top 300 is out, and Saatchi and
Saatchi still heads the agency list with Zenith way ahead on the media
table. You could almost believe the whole Maurice saga did not happen if
it wasn’t for the arrival of M&C Saatchi, straight into the table at 20.
Both Saatchis and Zenith did take hits, and many will be surprised that
Charlotte Street still tops the table. This is due partly to the spend
from the National Lottery, but mainly to the resilience of the Saatchis
culture. In this respect, the appointment of the old girl, Jennifer
Laing, appears to have been a wise one. Zenith, led by Christine Walker,
is much more gung-ho about life post-Maurice. It has unquestionably done
well to retain its pre-eminence but it would be surprising if something
dramatic did not happen in Paddington this year.
Elsewhere, many of the top agencies achieved growth. This might appear
surprising given that many of them - with the exception of J. Walter
Thompson, Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper and Publicis, and the Media Centre and
TMD Carat media companies - are not entirely happy with their new-
business performance. Instead, big clients have increased their spend.
More importantly for many of the shops, they have finally realised that
the best new business is new business from existing clients.
Arguably, M&C Saatchi can be credited with both.
There are some who will argue that the figures are irrelevant, based as
they are on the increasingly questionable use of billings. There may be
some truth in this, but it’s worth making two points: the relative sizes
of the agencies and media companies are largely correct year after year.
Second, the agencies that complain volubly over their billings are often
the most obstructive in helping us deliver the only viable alternative
table: one based on income. Worth thinking about, before you pick up the
phone this morning.