VCCP top AAR’s 2017 new business report for the seventh year in a row

AAR’s 2017 annual report into how well agencies have performed in new business always makes interesting reading.

As in previous years, VCCP were the most successful agency overall, winning three of the six categories.

Continuing the pattern of previous years, VCCP received the most new business opportunities from any source and were also the agency who were involved in the greatest number of reviews when prospective clients went to the “open” market. The accolade of being the agency that most clients chose to pitch when they had a free choice is arguably the best indicator of an agency’s new business skills. Yet again, VCCP showed their dominance in this area, being invited to pitch over twice as many times as the second placed agency.


The report’s third category is where a client is restricted in the agencies that they could invite to pitch, either because there was a predefined roster such as the Government framework, or they only included agencies with whom they already worked (e.g. Unilever or Diageo), or only considered agencies within a Holding Company e.g. WPP.

Here, Ogilvy & Mather came out on top, undoubtedly benefiting from being on the CCS framework and a part of WPP, although the new management team will undoubtedly have added to the agency’s allure.


Examples of clients moving their accounts without a pitch taking place are increasingly rare, but still remain the most profitable way of winning new business. Success here can be a combination of a great business development strategy and an agency’s “reputation” among the client community.

In this area, the most successful agency was J. Walter Thompson, winning seven accounts without having to go through the trauma of a pitch process.


As has often been said, there are no prizes for coming second, and new business is all about winning. For the second year running, the most successful agency at winning new accounts in 2017 was VCCP with twenty one.


Finally, when agencies benchmark their own new business efforts, one of the key criteria against which they judge themselves is their conversion rate in competitive pitches. Overall, any agency with a success rate over 40% is clearly doing a good job, but the award for the agency with the highest percentage in 2017 was jointly shared by Engine and Snap, both of whom won 87.5% of the pitches for which they competed.


Outside of the winners enclosure, shout outs should also be given to a number of agencies who did well in many categories of new business without taking any of the top prizes. These included Adam & Eve/DDB, Leagas Delaney, Lucky Generals and M&C Saatchi, all of whom performed consistently in 2017.

The results of our 2017 New Business report were also reported in Campaign Live on 18 March 2018.