Staff Reporters
Mar 19, 2020

Agency Report Cards 2019: 43 APAC networks assessed

Campaign Asia-Pacific presents its 17th annual evaluation of APAC agency networks based on their 2019 business performance, innovation, creative output, awards, staff development, diversity and leadership.

Agency Report Cards 2019: 43 APAC networks assessed

Welcome to Campaign Asia-Pacific’s annual Agency Report Cards. It's our 17th year of this critical industry benchmark, which has evolved to provide more comprehensive analysis and context as the marketing communications arena becomes ever more complex. 

The robust reports below, available exclusively to Campaign Asia-Pacific members, once again evaluate no less than 43 of the top marcomms agency networks in Asia-Pacific for their work in 2019, which by many accounts was the most difficult year in some time (though we already know 2020 has brought a new level of challenge). 

New business was harder to come by in 2019 with less total revenue from new wins overall, yet expectations to better equip, captivative and take care of employees are growing every year.  This is putting more strain on agency leaders, who are increasingly looking to technology for efficiencies and advantages in getting a creative edge. 

For the first time in many years, more agencies ended up with a lower overall grade (10) than a higher overall grade (9) in 2019. While most agencies kept their overall grade even (23), there was considerable fluctuation for most in the categories described below. 

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

Inside each report card, alongside our analysis you will find key information, including each agency’s top Asia-Pacific clients, listed expertise and a critical breakdown of agency grading in five key categories:

1. Leadership: A qualitative assessment of leadership performance, key regional decisions, management stability and contributions to industry by agency leaders.

2. Creativity: Compelling and effective campaign work, judged qualitatively. Regional and global awards recognition is included, with higher weighting given to wins at major shows. Work demonstrative of high-effectiveness for clients is also considered.

3. Innovation: A qualitative assessment of Asia-based initiatives and innovations based on their improvements to the agency, people, clients and industry.

4. Business growth: Assessed by the value of accounts won and lost in 2019, as calculated by the agencies and R3’s New Business League, published in Campaign Asia-Pacific, along with recognition of new project work and organic growth through retained clients. 

5. People and diversity: Agency efforts to attract, retain and develop a high calibre of talent with a commitment to staff diversity and wellbeing are examined qualitatively.

Because 2018 was the first year we gave grades on the above categories, 2019 is the first year we're able to offer comparisons to last year's performance in each category. While leadership tended to stay steadier than most categories, none were immune to fluctuation. Creativity seems to have seen the most change, business growth saw more downgrades, but in a pleasant trend we saw slightly more upgrades for people and diversity initiatives. 

This year was the first year that Wunderman Thompson was graded as a merged entity. The one new agency entrant in 2019 was Publicis Media's Spark Foundtry, which has emerged from Starcom's shadow as a media player in its own right, competing fully with other large media agencies.

Grading the agency ecosystem continues to become more challenging every year. Digital, media and creative agencies are no longer in neat categories in a world where clients want integrated services. With this, we now see more multi-agency client teams, working on single P&Ls at the holding-company level.

Increasingly, more specialisms like commerce, CRM, consulting, business transformation, data analytics, performance marketing, search and many others are becoming part and parcel of what every agency does. Our assessments will continue to evolve with these changes, along with the ever-elastic definition of what marketing agencies are here to do.

From all of us at Campaign Asia-Pacific, we’d sincerely like to thank all agencies for their considerable time and effort in preparing this year’s detailed submissions for our review.

Past Agency Report Cards: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

(Report Cards prior to the 2015 edition were published in print only)

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