The Global Creative and Media new business landscape for 2023 proved to be relatively muted despite marque accounts like Pfizer, Uber, and Kimberly-Clark put under review, according to independent global marketing consultancy R3. The number of total accounts awarded decreased 2.9% year-on-year while overall value increased 5.3%. Publicis Groupe leads the 2023 New Business League holding group rankings, with its win of Pfizer pushing it past WPP; its closest competitor for the last eight years.

The value of Creative accounts globally increased in 2023 by 8.4% across a 13.7% decrease on volume. Holding companies accounted for most of those wins, with Publicis Groupe, WPP, and Interpublic Group leading in that order. Three independent agencies (Wieden+Kennedy, M&C Saatchi Group, and Mother) rounded the top 20 in the Creative New Business League.

Media contributed less to revenue, with 17.1% more accounts awarded on a value that increased only 0.4% on the previous year. Starcom, Zenith, and Carat led in Media wins, and Publicis Groupe, Omnicom, and WPP took the top three places for Media in the holding company rankings.

US Invests in Creative, While Asia Looks to Media

The global trend of higher-value Creative accounts is best witnessed in the US (+28.9%). In Europe, Asia Pacific, and China, Creative new business recovery was slow with companies putting fewer accounts into review and allocating smaller budgets.

The inverse can be said for Media. The US registered a 187% increase in number of media reviews at a 14.5% decrease in overall value. China’s Media landscape remained strong with fewer accounts competing for 38% more Media revenue.

“It’s becoming clearer where marketers prioritize Creative and Media,” says Greg Paull, Principal & Co-founder at R3. “In the US and Europe, there’s growing interest in the impact of creative effectiveness on overall business growth and cultural relevance; placing a premium on impactful and innovative creative work.”

“In regions where connected platforms are more critical to customer engagement and conversion, media is more important. Particularly with partners that can offer CRM and data solutions. China and Asia-Pacific are two examples where media revenue is strong, and less investment finds its way to creative partnerships.”

Looking Forward to 2024

  • A New Leaderboard: Network consolidation in 2023 will change the new business landscape going forward. Titans – whoever is the biggest or with the most integrated offering – are likely to dominate the top 3 rankings, with overall year-to-date revenue significantly dropping after the top 10.
  • Account Values Being Disrupted by Gen AI: Marketers are already working hard to understand the implications of Generative AI on account resource and fees. “The affect will be incremental and hugely dependent on how quickly we can establish a benchmark for the industry,” says Paull. “Once marketers get visibility on its impact, we’ll start seeing changes in scopes of work and value.”
  • Relationships Trump Size & Tech: The time-tested KPI of good relationship management will determine the longevity of partnerships. “Empires are not sustained by words, but by action,” says Paull. “The most advance platforms and the greatest diversity in capability won’t be able to salvage poor account management. The aim of any agency should be to prevent their clients from falling out of love with them. This is the secret power of independents.”