Staff Reporters
Mar 14, 2016

Agency Report Card 2015: Introduction

Agencies that impressed the most grew by using innovation in the best interests of clients.

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INTRODUCTION

Welcome to Campaign Asia-Pacific’s annual Agency Report Card, which is now in its 13th year. We would like to begin by thanking all companies concerned for taking the time to fill out detailed submissions and discuss last year’s performance with our editors. Two agencies opted not to participate in the process, but they have nonetheless been assessed alongside their competitors.

As always, there has been movement: as the fortunes of one agency rise, those of another inevitably decline. Across the three categories covered—creative, media and digital—a total of 13 companies moved up, while five moved down. Naturally, the higher an agency stands, the more difficult it becomes to continue to advance and even to maintain that position, and that is reflected in the rankings. The rare few near the top that raised the bar even higher deserve special congratulations.

There is often a tendency among agencies to emphasise new business as a measure of their worth above everything else. While new business is certainly an important consideration, there are other factors just as pertinent to an agency’s success—not least, doing the best job possible for existing clients and continuing to develop those relationships.



Agencies have also been rewarded for astute structural improvements and sustainable innovation. That does not mean putting a Band-Aid over a gaping hole, nor unveiling a flashy new service that promises to change the world of marketing, but is more likely than not to sink without trace before the next Report Card period rolls around.

In 2014, we saw lots of agencies striving to operate as something akin to management consultancies with creative services. Some have since realised that this is more difficult than it might at first seem and taken a step back. One thing is certain though: that as consultancies themselves slowly become more creative, the traditional agency model is under more pressure than ever. Agencies in all quarters that fail to develop solid non-traditional revenue streams seem destined to sink into irrelevance.

The agencies that impressed the most are growing by using innovation in the best interests of their clients. That is only possible with solid foundations and strong leadership, which was also a key element in our assessments. A number of networks are not there yet but are showing encouraging signs of progress: some, which were adrift at sea just a few years ago, are staging a comeback, especially in the creative space. Homegrown networks from Japan and Korea, giants at home, are all at different stages in the struggle to establish themselves as serious players in the outside world—but are making headway. As growth in Asia slows, the coming year is sure to be one of fierce competition.

We welcome your feedback. Please send your comments to david.blecken@haymarket.asia.  


METHODOLOGY

Creative, media and digital agencies were evaluated on four key criteria for the Agency Report Card: 

  • Business performance: This was assessed according to the value of accounts won and lost in the calendar year 2015, as calculated by the agencies and R3’s New Business League, published in Campaign.
  • Initiatives: A qualitative assessment was made of the initiatives submitted by agencies based on their impact on agency, people, clients and industry.
  • Awards: Regional and global creative and effectiveness awards shows, along with Campaign’s Agency of the Year awards, were included in the tally, with wins at major shows taking a higher weighting.
  • People: A qualitative assessment was made of the new hires submitted, combined with the perceived quality of the senior management of each agency network. This ranking recognised not only important new hires, but also proven stability.

SCORE KEY

A Unmatched
A- Outstanding
B+ Excellent
B Very good
B- Good
C+ Above average
C Satisfactory
C- Passable
D+ Needs work
D Struggling
D- Poor
E Year to forget
E- Survival in question

 

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