Do creative agency billings matter? Or, in the era of project work and all sorts of ancillary activities – customer experience is the current fave – is income all that matters?
If it is, it’s hard to get a steer on individual agencies as the holding companies by and large don’t break out such details. But billings still give an interesting insight into scale and scope and Campaign’s recently published Nielsen billings (subscription required) show one thing quite emphatically: in the UK VCCP is by far the biggest. And it’s only likely to get bigger.
In 2022 VCCP’s billings increased by 34% to to £483m (£100m or so ahead of nearest rivals Saatchi & Saatchi, McCann and previous year leader adam&eveDDB. Its declared income was £142m and it employed 1154 staff, an unheard of number among UK creative agencies these days. It won 37 accounts, losing only Paddy Power (as you do.)
It has since lost Nationwide to New Commercial Arts, pulling out of the pitch, but is currently contending for Sainsbury’s and has won a chunk of new National Lottery owner Allwyn. To get to £483m billings without a supermarket account is extraordinary. In a year’s time it could well be even bigger.
VCCP, MAA’s 2022 Agency of the Year (surprisingly it failed to make Campaign’s shortlist), began life as Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest in 2002 (all below). Positioned as the challenger network for challenger clients, it won 02 early on and hardly looked back although it did survive a spell of ownership by Tim Bell’s Chime who bought it for a reported £30m after a previous foray into advertising had come unstuck with once high-flying HHCL. This brought Sir Martin Sorrell’s WPP into the mix, which led to more turbulence. Now it’s owned by Providence Equity.
VCCP could hardly be more different to HHCL which crashed and burned after a brief spell of fame and (mostly) fortune. Over the past decade or so it’s seemed ever the bridesmaid but now it will perhaps get the recognition it deserves. Our Agency of the Year gong, of course, but sitting on top of the agency billings league will also be noticed in the wider world, whatever you thing of creative agency billings as a currency.
This is an amended version of an earlier story.