April 7, 2022 – Adweek (US) — New business opportunities for U.S. creative agencies accelerated in 2021, as clients held 155 reviews representing $4.8 billion in media spend, compared to 92 reviews in 2020. Just 16 agencies captured 70% of the new business last year.

Despite the significant increase in reviews, agencies outside of the big six holding companies did not cash in all the new business activity, winning just 42.5% of reviews compared to 56% of the reviews in 2020. Additionally, non-big six agencies scored just 33% of the media spend associated with the 66 clients they won.

The biggest winners at the holding company level include WPP, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe and IPG, while at the agency level Wieden+Kennedy and TBWA scored the most new business. The retail category saw the biggest turnover, with 16 reviews representing $800 million in ad spend.

COMvergence’s new business barometer also signals bad news for incumbents. Just 11 agencies held onto their clients during a review, most notably Meta, Mercedes-Benz and Coca-Cola. Incumbents’ chances did improve, however, from 2020, when just four clients retained their shop.

For the report, COMvergence looked only at reviews with a minimum $3 million spend, according to Nielsen, and involved U.S.-based agencies. It’s important to note that if incumbents do not choose to defend an account, those losses (in most cases) are not reflected in these new business rankings. Project wins are also not reflected in these rankings.

Top agencies of 2021

The bulk of the new business—at least in terms of media spend—went to just 16 agencies. They gobbled up over $3 billion of the $4.8 billion of media spend up for grabs. Two agencies led the way, as Wieden+Kennedy snagged $420 million worth of spend and TBWA landed $340 million. W+K won six accounts (FanDuel, Chime, Vrbo, goPuff, Impossible Foods and Danone [Evian]), while TBWA took home seven (DirecTV, Discover, PepsiCo [Lay’s], Behr Paint, Royal Philips, Schwan’s Foods and Palo Alto Networks). Additionally, Coca-Cola was worth $300 million in U.S. media spend for WPP’s bespoke team, OpenX, which is made up of agencies like Ogilvy and Wunderman Thompson.

At the holding company level, four networks stood out for wins: WPP and Omnicom, which each had a total volume of $800 million in spend, as well as Publicis Groupe and IPG, which each won/retained 15 clients. But wins don’t tell the whole story as all four did suffer a notable loss: WPP lost Discover; Omnicom lost Dunkin’; Publicis Groupe lost FanDuel and IPG lost Walmart. Notably, Stagwell gained ground on the big six in terms of new business wins, led by Anomaly and Doner, which each won or retained four significant accounts.

In net new business at the network level, WPP led the way with $511 million in volume, Publicis Groupe ranked second at $426 million, Omnicom was third at $385 million, Havas was fourth at $160 million, IPG was fifth at $127 million, Accenture Interactive was sixth at $75 million, dentsu was seventh at $36 million and Stagwell had a net loss of $44 million.

Among the agencies who lost the most business, BBDO had $390 million in losses, but partially offset that with a $230 million Home Depot win; TRG lost $280 million in volume (Home Depot, The Salvation Army and Cracker Barrel); BBH dropped $260 million (FanDuel and Absolut Vodka) with only two smaller wins to offset those losses; Deutsch fell $230 million volume, mostly due to Walmart and H&R Block; and FCB dropped $230 million in volume, again due to losing Walmart, but partially offset those losses with $80 million in wins.

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