Staff Reporters
Mar 5, 2018

Agency Report Card 2017

We assess 43 regional creative, media and digital agency networks on their 2017 performance.

Agency Report Card 2017

Welcome to Campaign Asia-Pacific’s annual grading of Agency Report Cards. This is our 15th year of undertaking this critical industry benchmark, involving considerable research and effort from both our editorial team and participating agencies.

Agency Report Card publication schedule:
5 March: Digital networks  |  12 March: Media networks  | 19 March: Creative networks

Every year has its specific challenges, and 2017 was no exception. Ad spending budgets tightened in key categories like FMCG, and the economic climate was constrained in key markets like India, hit by demonetisation.

But external conditions still paled in significance to changes within marcomms, where digital media continues to grow at an unprecedented clip. AI and data-driven platforms are giving agencies the tools to set themselves apart, but also the potential to be made redundant.  

Although it often sounds like the entire industry is talking about the exact same thing, each agency is responding at different rates, building different strengths in talent and technology informed by short or long-term imperatives, picking different battles and being influenced by different clients. All these decisions and responses add up to discernable differences, factoring into agency performance. 

What’s clear is that the role of the industry is not going anywhere…yet. Over these 15 years, we’ve continued to expand our scope of agency coverage in the region and the number of agency networks keeps moving forwards rather than backwards. Our report now involves 43 agencies. We removed two of them: Bates CHI offices may still produce great work but is no longer a viable network in APAC; Razorfish, now absorbed by Sapient, is squarely a consultancy with scant work on straight advertising. 

Five new agencies were added. After its rebrand, it was time to separate Dentsu X as a media firm from its creative parent. Essence, meanwhile, is set to play a larger role in APAC after inheriting more business from the Maxus-MEC merger. (We continue to grade those latter two separately for 2017). Mcgarrybowen is the lone creative agency addition, while growing digital shops R/GA and VML also deserve attention. 

A positive sign is that most are adapting and some even thriving in this new environment. While there was less new business available this year, more agencies found revenue from existing clients or new services. In the end, only eight agencies were given lower grades this year, while fourteen moved higher. Agency business continues to shift into new arenas and we will move alongside, evolving and adapting our methodology as well.


Creative, media and digital agencies were evaluated on four key criteria for their agency report cards:

  1. Business performance: Assessed by the value of accounts won and lost in 2017, as calculated by the agencies and R3’s New Business League, published in Campaign.
  2. Innovation and initiatives: A qualitative assessment of Asia-based initiatives and innovations based on their improvements to the agency, people, clients and industry.
  3. The work and awards: Compelling and effective campaign work, judged qualitatively. Regional and global awards recognition is included, with higher weighting given to wins at major shows.
  4. People: A qualitative assessment of leadership performance, along with efforts to attract, retain and develop a high calibre of talent with a commitment to staff diversity.


A Unmatched                  C Satisfactory
A- Outstanding C- Passable
B+ Excellent D+ Needs work
B Very good D Poor
B- Good D- Struggling to survive
C+ Average F Failed


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