Acxiom is biggest US agency, Edelman tops global PR rankings

Acxiom from Arkansas that is, a direct marketing and customer relationship agency that has topped Advertising Age’s survey of US agencies.

Arkansas is Wal-Mart territory of course but Acxiom’s biggest clients are Procter & Gamble, AT&T and Macy’s. This is the first time a non-Madison Avenue ad agency has topped Ad Age’s agency list and reflects a year (2009) in which ‘traditional’ agencies’ revenue fell by 9.3 per cent with some notable closures including Cliff Freeman & Partners.

Omnicom’s Fleishman Hilliard was the US’ biggest PR agency but the global leader was Edelman headed by Richard Edelman, himself a global leader of sorts, which, amazingly, remains an independent. Edelman currently employs 3200 people in 52 countries.

Publicis overtook Interpublic as third biggest global group thanks to its acquisition of digital agency Razorfish from Microsoft and Ad Age ranks WPP ahead of Omnicom.

Dentsu remains the world’s biggest ad agency network although most of its business is in Japan.

In 2009 US agencies of all persuasions saw their income drop by 7.5 per cent to $28.4bn and jobs declined by 58,400 or 7.9 per cent. However some US agencies are hiring, IPG’s Martin agency based in Richmond won 14 accounts in the past year and is looking to recruit 100 people.

This is the second year of decline reported in the Ad Age survey and, although there are signs that the corner has been turned, the agency business, in the US at least, is going to be a smaller business than it was, for a few years at least.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.