Global new business revenue for the marketing industry fell 5.8% in 2020 while creative new business slumped 12.6%, according to marketing consultancy R3’s year-end New Business League, which credits an increase in the media business for partially offsetting declines that could have been far worse.
In holding group terms, it was WPP that emerged as the news business champion, outperforming its rivals to draw twice the revenue and twice the wins of its nearest competitor.
Media offsets creative losses
Despite the impact of lockdown, home working and a broader economic knock, new business for the marketing sector was down a relatively benign 5.8% worldwide last year.
The better than expected performance can be credited to a 6.9% rise in media new business for the year, covering for a comparatively weak creative market, which slumped 12.6%.
The creative rankings
Havas Worldwide took the crown as the top-performing agency for creative new business – an improvement on its third-place ranking from last year.
The top five is completed by Droga5, VMLY&R, Isobar and Ogilvy in descending order.
Droga5’s second spot is particularly notable, representing a 10 place improvement on its position the year prior – a result of winning major global accounts for Airbnb and Huggies.
In terms of greatest improvement, no one can top VMLY&R, which surged 20 places to third spot following a 2018 restructuring.
The media rankings
Individual successes were not enough to lift media new business as a sector, with revenue derived from wins falling 27% across the top five media agencies versus the previous year.
MediaCom performed best overall in terms of securing new business, followed by Initiative, Wavemaker, Starcom and OMD. Interestingly, MediaCom was also the only agency to hold on to its top-five position.
WPP retains holding company crown
Among the big beasts, it was WPP that dominated, accruing double the revenue and twice the volume of new business wins than its nearest rival, Publicis Groupe.
The strong performance shows that WPP’s digital-first direction is paying dividends, enabling the holding company to outclass last year’s creative revenue by 134% and media revenue by 161%, challenging circumstances be damned.
This picture is likely to improve further into 2021 with the renewal and expansion of WPP’s partnership with Wallgreens Boots Alliance to enhance its data and technology-powered marketing strategy.
Lauding the performance, chief exec Mark Read boasted that WPP had gained $1.6bn of new business in the three months to October alone, bringing its year-to-date tally up to $5.6bn.
Read said: “We have maintained our new business momentum as clients seek out our creativity and our skills in media, technology, data and e-commerce.“