Media Agency Holding Company of the Year -- Aegis

"If you were going to design an agency holding company today, would it look like Interpublic, Omnicom, or WPP -- or would it look more like Aegis?"

Until David Verklin, a member of the Aegis board and head of its Carat Americas and Carat Asia/Pacific units, raised that question earlier this year, I'd never really thought about it.

Now the answer seems all too apparent. Even Martin Sorrell, the founder and chief of global ad agency giant WPP Group, seemed to agree during a presentation at a recent Wall Street conference: "If I had to sum this presentation up in four words, it would be, 'China and the Internet.' "

Okay, so Aegis' vision is broader than just China and the Internet, but those are two of its fastest-growing markets. It's also growing pretty fast in some others, including traditional media and the burgeoning field of communications planning. In fact, it was those high-growth segments, plus formidable marketing research assets, that made suitors such as WPP's Sorrell, Publicis Groupe's Maurice Levy, and Havas' Vincent Bollore interested in getting their mitts on Aegis.

Ultimately Aegis may remain an independent company. At least that's what Bollore, who has emerged as its most influential shareholder, says. And that's just the way Verklin & Co. would have it. He wants Aegis focused on its strategy of being the only marketing services holding company that doesn't have the creation of ads at its center but instead has media as its core -- and digital, interactive media at that.

It's a vision that's working, and that others are beginning to emulate. It's also the reason we've selected the Aegis Group as our first ever, and possibly only, Media Agency Holding Company of the Year.

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