Claims of the demise of the creative agency review may be greatly exaggerated.
A total of 134 major U.S. reviews were launched in 2018—30 of those from the country’s top advertising spenders, according to COMvergence’s latest 2018 U.S. “creative new business barometer” report.
The report found that one third of the creative accounts placed in review last year were part of the consumer packaged goods and restaurant categories (home to the biggest ad spenders) including Dunkin’, which awarded its creative business to BBDO and Arc Worldwide. Pizza Hut sent its creative account to GSD&M, while Papa John’s finally landed with Endeavor Global Marketing after Laundry Service reportedly resigned the account following racist remarks made by the company’s former chairman and founder, John Schnatter.
Johnson & Johnson also consolidated its creative business with two dedicated teams of WPP and Omnicom agencies last March and, in a bold move, P&G handed its North America Fabric Care business to a dedicated unit that pulls from agencies across holding companies including Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi, WPP’s Grey and Omnicom’s Hearts & Science.
Following an ongoing trend that is seeing more companies consolidate all advertising efforts with one agency or network, COMvergence found that eight brands selected holding companies to manage their accounts through full-service units that span creative, media, digital and PR.
Among the holding company-owned agencies, Publicis Groupe’s Publicis creative network and Havas were both on top with the highest number of account wins in 2018 (six), according to the report. Havas won Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, Orbitz, Edible Arrangements, Rackspace, Rite-Aid and Barnes & Noble. Publicis’ wins include Campbell’s soup, sauces and beverage brands, Aflac, Red Lobster and Nestlé’s Coffee-Mate.
COMvergence recorded Omnicom’s BBDO and IPG’s FCB winning five creative accounts each in 2018.
By holding company, Omnicom led the pack by winning 20 creative accounts, IPG was second with 17 wins and WPP and Publicis Groupe rounded out third place with 15 creative wins, according to the study.
Outside of the “big five” agency holding companies, MDC Partners won 14 creative accounts last year through its agencies including Anomaly and 72andSunny, which both added four new creative accounts. 72andSunny Los Angeles picked up Match and retained its creative AOR status for Activision. Anomaly won the Petco, Booking.com and Weight Watchers creative accounts last year.
COMvergence said the MDC wins are not part of the 55 out of 134 U.S. creative accounts won by independent agencies. Droga5 was the leader in that category (even though it is owned partially by Endeavor) with five wins including G Suite from Google, United Rentals and Kraft Heinz brands Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Kraft Mac & Cheese.
There were 17 marketers that retained their agencies, either partially or entirely, through review processes, according to the report.
Meanwhile, Havas, McCann, GSD&M and FCB all ended 2018 with fewer client losses than in 2017, while BBDO and 72andSunny lost more accounts in 2018 versus the year before.
This report follows a similar one conducted by R3 last month in which Publicis Groupe was named the top generator of new business revenue among the holding companies. This would suggest that Publicis may not have won the most accounts among the major agency holding companies but that it scooped up those with the biggest budgets.
COMvergence itself also just generated a big win after WPP’s GroupM consolidated the reporting and analysis of its commercial and business development data with global independent research firm. The appointment marked the end of GroupM’s relationship with Recma, which previously was the only global research firm that provided quarterly reports and benchmarks on media agencies’ client billings.