Top 300 Agencies: Introduction

To spice up the Top 300 this year, we asked agencies to write their own "school reports" and give their performance a score.

Cramming a year of blood, sweat and tears into a piffling 50 words has not been everyone's idea of fun. But hopefully it was as useful for the agencies as it was revealing for us and the sponsor of this year's Top 300, Accenture Marketing Sciences (which we learn about on page 49).

For one thing, it shows that most of the UK's best agencies have lost none of their swagger. Despite lingering uncertainty in the market and the gloom cast by the latest IPA Bellwether Report, agencies rated themselves, on average, one full mark higher than we did (the average Campaign score was 6 - "satisfactory" - while the average agency score was 7 - "good").

Hardly surprising. Our scores, while fair, are never overly generous and ad executives aren't exactly famed for their modesty.

But there were exceptions. Every Campaign agency of the year - creative, media, direct and digital - scored itself lower than we did, presumably to leave room for improvement (and to reclaim the title) in 2006.

Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Campaign's advertising agency of the year for three consecutive years, takes the prize for the shortest school report of the lot, saying it all in just17 words, and finishing with a self-flagellant: "Work good but could be better." Lowe - which, after much deliberation and despite its strong reel, we awarded a 2 ("a year to forget") - gets the nod for indefatigability. The agency sums up its mood as: "Wounded but resilient."

Mediaedge:cia tells us it has been hiding its light under a bushel, while Naked says it came of age in 2005. Sharpen Troughton Owens Response, meanwhile, clearly thinks it can do better; it gave its performance in 2005 a score of 3.

Clemmow Hornby Inge was the rising star of the top 20. Incredibly, the agency grew even faster than it did in 2004 and it now sits only one place below TBWA\London, the agency its founders left five years ago.

CHI's medium-sized rivals also piled on the billings. Mother, Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners, VCCP and Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy all posted double-digit growth and now sit hungrily on the fringe of the top 15.

But progress up the table will not be easy. Big networks such as Ogilvy & Mather, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R and DDB London were solid, while Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO held the number-one spot.

MediaCom, meanwhile, did well to hold off its WPP sibling MindShare to top the media table, despite the latter's monster Unilever win in 2004.

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