Grading creativity is difficult. Yet this industry attempts to do it all the time.
From awards programs to business outcomes, ad agencies are constantly trying to quantify their expertise in something that is, by nature, qualitative and subjective.
That’s why, as we adapted our U.K. sister publication’s annual School Reports feature for the U.S. market, we decided against grading agencies on their success this past year. We thought that after a year of working from home through a global pandemic, everyone deserves a small break from being ranked.
Instead, we’ve hand-selected just over 100 agencies that represent the breadth of marketing services offerings in the U.S. market and globally. We feature each with a short write-up and an image the company has selected to represent work it is most proud of in what was likely its most difficult year on record.
Creativity is subjective, but it's worth having a dedicated resource to make sense of the extensive agency offerings in the market. This package aims to collate the state of the agency landscape to help clients and talent better understand their prospects. That’s important in a field where pitch theater is often prioritized over performance and millions of dollars are invested in “gut” feelings.
These write-ups will also be featured in Campaign AI, a new intelligence dashboard from the global Campaign team that analyzes business performance across more than 1,000 global agencies and ad spending data from 2,000 brands. While many of these write-ups focus on the U.S. market, others dive deeper into business performance in the U.K. and Asia because of the global nature of the tool. We are a global publication, after all, and it's helpful for global agencies and clients to assess performance on a worldwide scale.
This project has been an exercise in appreciating agency resilience through times of extreme hardship and change. It’s been a window into how creativity connected, inspired and transformed during great uncertainty. It’s a snapshot into the work creatives are most proud of putting on their reels, even during a year of working in isolation.
When we run this feature next year, we’re anticipating that the world will have returned to some semblance of normal. But I imagine (hope?) we’ll be back in our offices (maybe hybrid-style), jet setting to client meetings (perhaps fewer) and attending industry conferences (potentially not as many).
As the dust settles, we plan on creating a more formal submission and grading process for the Agency Report Cards next year. You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Campaign US Associate Editor Mariah Cooper at email@example.com to learn more.
For now, we hope this feature guides you to better understand the agency landscape — as a client, an employee or a potential acquirer.
Until then, school’s out.
Alison Weissbrot is the Editor of Campaign US