Agency Review Activity Spikes After Quiet 2020

Agency new business activity picked up substantially in the first five months of 2021 after a quiet 2020 when marketer priorities shifted away from agency reviews due to the pandemic.

Consultant R3 Worldwide reports that net new agency business revenue in the U.S. roughly doubled from January to May of this year, to $544 million, with the number of reviews climbing nearly 60% to 309.

Globally, net new business revenue rose 47% to $1.3 billion, with reviews totaling 2,941, up 43%.

Among media agencies in the U.S., Publicis Media topped the R3 ranking for the period with $65 million in net new business. Wins included American Family.

Horizon was second-ranked with $37 million, and wins including Hershey. Zenith was third-ranked with $25.2 million and TD Bank among its wins. Rounding out the top 5: OMD ($20.5 million; The Home Depot) and Digitas ($19.6 million; Inspire Brands US).

Code and Theory, VMLY&R and BBDO were top three-ranked creative agencies in the U.S. according to the R3 tally.



Publicis Media also topped R3’s global media agency ranking with $129 million in net new business revenue for the period with Stellantis Global and Lindt & Spruengli Europe contributing to its win tally.

Wavemaker ranked second with $61 million and wins including L’Oreal India and China.

Zenith was 3rd with $54.7 million and Pet Culture Australia and 3 Bears Ukraine among its wins.

Rounding out the top 5: OMD ($50.7 million; Philips Global) and Havas Media ($41.1 million; UKTV).

Ogilvy, Havas Worldwide and VMLY&R were the top-3-winningest creative shops globally, per the R3 tally.


2 comments about "Agency Review Activity Spikes After Quiet 2020".
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  1. Michael Farmer from Farmer & Company LLC, July 12, 2021 at 9:41 a.m.

    Every "won client" replaces a "lost client," so isn't the "new agency business revenue of $544 million" a misleading figure? Isn't it netted out by a similar loss of at least $544 million in agency revenue?
    And aren't the biggest client winners also the biggest client losers, since the industry is not  growing? I don't think that the client wins result in market share gains by any particular agencies.
    The trade press focuses on the "winners" of agency reviews but ignores the equally noteworthy loss of clients that creates the conditions for the reviews in the first place.
    Furthermore, since new business wins are usually won on the basis of lower prices / fees, the recent burst of agency reviews is probably a sign that there has also been a burst of fee reductions in the industry.
    This, of course, raises questions about whether the winners are really winners, or whether winning in a burst of agency reviews is just another sign of Madison Avenue's deterioration.

    Michael Farmer
    Author: Madison Avenue Manslaughter (3rd edition 2019) 

  2. Stephen McClellan from MediaPost, July 12, 2021 at 9:55 a.m.

    Hi Michael, the $544 million figure is a net figure that does take into account losses. No doubt marketers are pressing for lower fees/prices whereever they can find them, with all suppliers. But the spike probably does reflect the fact that marketers put off reviews last year to deal with other more pressing COVID-related issues. 

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