The number of new-business pitches plummeted 21 per cent in 2009, according to new figures released by the AAR.
While advertising reviews fell by 20 per cent, the declines in digital, direct marketing and media pitches were even more substantial.
Digital pitches suffered a 33 per cent decline in stark contrast to 2008, when the number of pitches went up 19 per cent.
DM pitches, which rose 10.4 per cent in 2008, were also few and far between in 2009, with 24 per cent fewer reviews.
Media planning-only reviews suffered the largest decline, falling 67 per cent year on year, reflecting clients' tendency to combine media planning and buying reviews.
Full-service media pitches still fell dramatically, though, with 24 per cent fewer reviews – although the value of those pitches that did take place was much higher than in previous years.
The most significant of these were global reviews for Danone, EDF, Fiat, HP, Hyundai, Ikea, Kellogg and Nokia, all of which had an impact on UK agencies.
Conversely, the number of advertising reviews with a reported value of more than £20 million fell from 12 in 2008 to just seven in 2009.
Big account moves included Asda, B&Q, Confused.com, the Daily Mail, E.ON, Kellogg and John Lewis, but three of these moved without a formal pitch process.
Kerry Glazer, the AAR chief executive, said: "This has clearly been a very tough year in new business. While overall the market was down 21 per cent, that does not necessarily show the true picture, as a number of reviews were consolidations within rosters and, therefore, did not really offer new opportunities for the majority of agencies."