Figures from AAR’s latest New Business Pulse have revealed that the total number of completed new business reviews in the first three quarters of 2017 showed a marginal decrease of 3.3% over the first three quarters of 2016.

There was, however some positive news with the number of advertising appointments rising by 10.9% year on year.

It should, however, be noted that the data only includes reviews that made the press where an appointment was made in the first nine months of the year, and does not include ongoing pitches, of which there remain a significant number. This fact is particularly relevant as we enter what has historically been one of the busiest quarters of the year, so the picture may have changed significantly by year end.

In terms of specific disciplines, in the first three quarters of 2017 the year on year changes were as follows:

Discipline % difference

Q1-3 2017 vs Q1-3 2016

Total (3.3)
Advertising 10.9
CRM/Direct Marketing (11.1)
Digital (27.0)
Integrated (7.2)
Media (11.4)

Source: AARnewbizmoves

As previously mentioned, advertising appointments were up 10.9% in the first nine months of 2017 compared with the same period in 2016. The number of £20 million plus UK advertising clients was, however, down on 2016 with five appointing a new agency (Dixons Carphone, Dreams, KFC, Vodafone, and Walgreen/Boots) in the first three quarters of the year, compared with eight in 2016. However, of the 2017 appointments, only Dreams and KFC were open reviews.

There were, a number of major global/international appointments that provided positive news for UK agencies including Airbnb, American Express, BA (IAG), Citroen, EA Sports, Ebay and Electrolux.

Integrated agency appointments were down 7.2 % and remained at the same low value level as in previous years, although the figures were somewhat inflated by the Government frameworks desires to make more integrated appointments.

Whilst the number of digital appointments was down year on year by 27%, a significant trend is emerging where clients are appointing agencies and consultancies for digital strategy and innovation more than communications.

Media agency wins were also down (-11.4%) versus the first three quarters of 2016, but did include a number of significant national and global appointments including Barclays, IAG, Ladbrokes Coral, Molson Coors, P&G, PSA, Sainsbury’s (eventually) and Walgreen/Boots.

Commenting on the figures, Kerry Glazer, CEO of AAR said: “As we surmised in our half year Pulse report, the signs of a revival in the overall new business market are finally being reflected in the data. It is very welcome to see proof of the advertising market returning to the same level as last year and hopefully exceeding it. For some disciplines such as digital, there is a definite shift in what clients are looking for from specialist agencies, whilst for others such as the CRM community, it is becoming a case of developing business with existing clients rather than being in constant competitive pitch mode.

With one quarter to go, we remain confident that the overall new business market will match that of 2016, although what lies in store in 2018 is anyone’s guess!”

A version of this article appeared in Campaign on 24 October 2017.

About The Author

Martin Jones

Managing Partner

Martin joined J. Walter Thompson in 1985, initially working in the agency’s Information Centre. He joined the New Business Department a year later and worked his way up, ultimately becoming New Business Director in 1991.

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