Staff Reporters
Feb 28, 2022

Agency Report Cards 2021: We grade 41 APAC networks

Campaign Asia-Pacific presents its 19th annual evaluation of APAC agency networks, based on their 2021 business performance, innovation, creative output, awards, action on DEI and sustainability, and leadership.

Agency Report Cards 2021: We grade 41 APAC networks

Welcome to Campaign Asia-Pacific’s annual Agency Report Cards. In our 19th year conducting this critical industry benchmark, we have overhauled the process to take a much stricter data-driven approach to grading agencies across a wider number of areas, including sustainability for the first time.

These changes mean that this batch of Agency Report Cards is our most diligent and comprehensive to date. The changes also translated to some significant grade shifts. The robust reports below, available exclusively to Campaign Asia-Pacific members, evaluate 41 of the top marcomms agency networks in Asia-Pacific.

The Agency Report Cards are available to Campaign members only.
Not a Campaign Asia-Pacific member? Become one now.

What's new?

Agencies have changed shape in the past few years, as they have redefined their business models and restructured their teams to be more future-fit and to continue proving their relevance to brands. So we evolved the grading system this year to focus more on sustainable business models and practices. We were looking for a clear strategy on how agencies are tackling the Great Resignation, how they are balancing pitching for new business with nurturing existing clients, how they are demonstrating continuous investment in products and innovations, and how they are progressing in critical areas like DEI.

We added an effectiveness measure into the work section, in recognition that creativity needs to be more effective than ever before as clients have become more discerning over budgets.

We have also graded agencies on their sustainability initiatives for the first time—we now view this as a fundamental requirement for all agencies. However, given it is still a young development, we put greater weighting on DEI in the combined score this year.

Finally, we have moved people initiatives, such as retention, training and wellbeing initiatives, under the management grade, which also takes into account performance in all the other areas.

As in past years, each report card contains a detailed analysis of the agency's performance, with grading in five key categories: business; innovation; DEI and sustainability; creativity and effectiveness; and management. Details about the criteria and the grading process are available below. You will also find key information such as each agency’s business breakdown, top clients, specialisations and expertise, and how the agency graded its own 2021 performance. 

Since agencies can move up or down in their score without their letter grade changing, we have included the numerical scores in each report for the first time. We believe this provides a more transparent overview of how agencies did—or did not—progress.

Overall, more than half (24 out of 41) agencies kept the same grade this year, but only six kept the exact same numerical score. Nine agencies moved down a grade, and only five moved up.

We added three new agencies this year: ADA, IProspect and We Are Social. We didn't produce a report on BBH, as it has moved under Publicis Creative.

2021 was clearly a better year for business after agencies rebounded from the impact of Covid, leading this section to witness the most upgrades (15). But we were disappointed that many agencies made no progress on DEI and sustainability—13 agencies were downgraded in this area and only seven moved up.  A lack of people initiatives, especially in areas like employee wellbeing, also contributed towards 13 agencies moving down in their management score (versus eight which were upgraded). The most (16) downgrades were made in innovation, which is surprising given the requirement for agencies to solve ever more complex challenges for advertisers.

CRITERIA

We assess each agency network in the following categories:

1. Business growth: We assess a combination of overall revenue, new-business revenue (using both reported figures and recorded figures in R3's New Business League in APAC markets), organic growth, profitability, client wins and losses, and diversification of revenue. 

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

3. DEI and sustainability: We qualitatively assess the degree of commitment to progress in both of these areas. 

4. Creativity and effectiveness: 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.

5. Management: A qualitative assessment of leadership performance, based on the four categories above plus other elements, such as key regional decisions, management stability, contributions to the industry by agency leaders, commitment to staff training and development, staff annual turnover, and more.

PROCESS

Most agencies kindly respond to a written submission form that asks for details across all aspects of the business. Based on this, plus extensive independent research and, in most cases, an hour in conversation with the agency's regional leader(s), Campaign Asia-Pacific's senior editors assess each agency's performance across the five grading categories, assigning a grade between 0 and 10 in each category. These point values and their letter-grade equivalents are shown below.  

Once the five category grades are assigned—and discussed at great length by all the editors working collectively—a final grade is calculated by averaging the five grades. This year for the first time we are displaying the numerical averages, which provide a more granular view of how each agency has progressed or regressed.

Letter grade Description Point value for category grades
Point value range for overall grade
A Unmatched 10 9.6 and up
A- Outstanding 9 8.6 - 9.5
B+ Excellent 8 7.6 - 8.5
B Very good 7 6.6 - 7.5
B- Good 6 5.6 - 6.5
C+ Average 5 4.6 - 5.5
C Satisfactory 4 3.6 - 4.5
C- Needs work 3 2.6 - 3.5
D+ Poor 2 1.6 - 2.5
D Really poor 1 0.6 - 1.5
F Failed 0 0.0 - 0.5
Past Agency Report Cards: 2020 | 20192018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

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

 

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