Creative Review Activity Rebounded Last Year After COVID-Suppressed 2020

Creative review activity in the U.S. was up sharply in 2021 and in line with pre-COVID levels according to a new analysis released by agency research consultancy COMvergence.  

The firm recorded 155 major U.S. creative new business assignments last year, which was on par with the 2019 total. In 2020 the number dipped to 90. 

According to the COMvergence rundown, 16 agencies captured 70% of the combined media spend represented by US advertisers/brands who reviewed their creative accounts in 2021. Three agencies captured nearly 25% of that spend. 

Independent agency Wieden+Kennedy won six accounts representing combined media spending of $420 million. Those accounts included FanDuel, Chime, Vrbo, goPuff, Impossible Foods and Danone (Evian). 

Omnicom’s TBWA\Chiat\Day won seven accounts representing $340 million, including DirecTV, Discover, PepsiCo (Lay’s only), Behr Paint Co, Royal Philips, Schwan's Foods, Palo Alto Networks. 



WPP’s dedicated unit OpenX was the big winner in a Coca-Cola review (providing end-to-end capabilities across creative, media and data) and serves as the global marketing network partner of Coca-Cola brands with over $300 million in spending. OpenX agencies include Ogilvy, Wunderman Thompson and MediaCom. These WPP shops will lead several strategic partners, including Leo Burnett, McCann, and McCann Mercado. 

Other network agencies that landed big accounts (with media spend ranging between $100 million and $200 million) include: Grey (Modelo brands), BBDO (The Home Depot), Publicis Worldwide (J.M. Smucker), Anomaly (Dunkin’), Saatchi & Saatchi (Tik Tok), Merkley+Partners (Mercedes-Benz), R/GA (Tonal), McCann (3M), Arnold (Cox Communications), MullenLowe (T.J. Maxx), Havas (AutoZone), and a bespoke Publicis Groupe dedicated unit called PubW (Walmart). 

Independent agencies had an impressive showing on the new business front last year, said Olivier Gauthier, CEO and Founder of COMvergence. In addition to Wieden, “38 other independent agencies won 60+ of the total US creative reviews recorded, hence capturing about a third of the spend volume reviewed in 2021.” 

Regarding the major advertising groups studied, “no clear leader among the Big 6 has emerged in 2021” Gauthier said, although he noted that “WPP and Omnicom slightly dominated the 2021 charts, by winning/retaining more than 15 creative assignments worth a total $800 million each and without suffering any major account losses.” 

Two “challenger” groups accumulated a combined total of $460 million in creative wins. 

Top-performing Stagwell agencies included Anomaly which won or retained four accounts totaling $200 million-plus, while Doner won L.L. Bean, Travelocity Johnson Baby and others. It also retained JBL. 

Accenture Interactive-owned agency Droga5 won or retained five accounts.


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