Mumbrella’s top 30 creative agencies: the final cut

Tomorrow, we’ll begin the formal process of asking an expert panel of clients, former clients, pitch doctors and recruiters their views on what we think are Australia’s 30 best advertising agencies.

And next week, we will be asking you, Mumbrella readers, the same thing about our final cut of 30.

It’s time now though, to reveal the potentially controversial list of who made it.  

You may recall that we announced the process – which we believe will be the most in depth piece of research conducted in Australia into the performance and perceptions of advertising agencies – earlier this month. The findings will be revealed at Mumbrella360 in June. the report will be called The Mumbrella Creative Agency Performance and Perception Study. Or M-CAPP.

What do we mean by best? The most awarded? Absolutely not. Awards, even effectiveness awards, are a misleading currency, as useful as they are for attracting and retaining talent.

Some agencies don’t enter awards. Some are just bad at writing effectiveness awards entries. Some win so many that they clutter the agency lobby, but for a single campaign that has been entered into every show they can afford to enter. One agency, I am told (which, admittedly, makes our final 30), has been known to bulk up its trophy cabinet with gongs from inhouse bowling competitions.

How we have selected our 30 comes down to size and reputation. This is based on the assumption that the larger the agency, the larger the clients, and the more talented people are needed to service those clients. And reputation, because these are the shops that are, we think, producing the best work, have the most powerful cultures, and are the places where the best people want to work. They have that irresistible quality, momentum.

One of the things we learned early on from chatting to our panelists was that this shouldn’t be a study of agency brands. It should be about individual offices. Leo Burnett Sydney is a very different animal to the Melbourne office. Clems Melbourne is hard to compare to its Sydney sibling, and so on.

So an initial list of 25 grew to 30. But that didn’t make things any easier. Some should, you’d think, be on our list automatically. Few would baulk at the likes of M&C Saatchi Sydney, BMF or the Monkeys making our list. But that takes the list of must-haves to 25, at most. Then there are the outliers, which anyone one could mount a decent case for.

Lowe, Draft FCB and Euro RSCG have rich parents and have some great clients, but are they currently places the best people want to work? Innocean is fairly sizeable, with around 45-50 people, but has it been tested with local clients? Oddfellows is solid and stable, but is it really making a mark on the agency scene?

Some will feel hard done by. Are we being too Sydney and Melbourne centric? What about KWP Adelaide or Junior in Brisbane? Have we overlooked below the line or digitally focused agencies, such as Tequila, Lavender and Rapp? We plan to run separate surveys on these disciplines – and of course media and PR agencies – in the future.

Some  are hard to categorise. The Glue Society’s unusual model makes like-for-like comparisons in the criteria we’re using too tricky. Some  are simply not on our radar. Well, let us know who you are and tell us your story.

Some are too new to make fair assessments of. CumminsRoss and Shift fall into that category. Maybe next year, guys. We’re looking at shops that have been around for longer than a year in their current form.

So here is our final 30. This is not a ranking, it’s just a list –  in alphabetical order. The nitty gritty of numerical assessment comes later.

  1. 303 Perth
  2. BMF
  3. BWM
  4. Clemenger BBDO Melbourne
  5. Clemenger BBDO Sydney
  6. DDB Sydney
  7. DDB Melbourne
  8. Droga 5
  9. GPY&R Sydney
  10. GPY&R Melbourne
  11. Grey Melbourne
  12. Host
  13. Innocean
  14. JWT Sydney
  15. JWT Melbourne
  16. Leo Burnett Melbourne
  17. Leo Burnett Sydney
  18. M&C Saatchi Sydney
  19. M&C Saatchi Melbourne
  20. McCann Sydney
  21. Oddfellows
  22. Ogilvy Sydney
  23. Ogilvy Melbourne
  24. Publicis Mojo Sydney
  25. Publicis Mojo Melbourne
  26. Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney
  27. The Campaign Palace Sydney
  28. Three Drunk Monkeys
  29. Whybin\TBWA Sydney
  30. Whybin\TBWA Melbourne

And here’s the ones that we considered, but didn’t quite make it this time:

  • AJF Partnership Melbourne
  • Banjo
  • CumminsRoss
  • DraftFCB
  • Euro RSCG Sydney
  • GPY&R Brisbane
  • Happy Soldiers (to fold next month)
  • JayGrey
  • Junior
  • KWP Adelaide
  • Lowe
  • Meerkats Perth
  • Sapient Nitro
  • The Glue Society
  • The Hallway
  • The Works

Soon we’ll be emailing our entire readership- about 23,000 – to ask for ratings on the following criteria: creativity, effectiveness, integration, planning, talent, commercial success, account management, impact on the industry, momentum and client stability. If you’re not already on our mailing list and want a say in the survey, then you can sign up here.

Agencies will merrily stretch the truth about how big they are, how many awards they’ve won, how much money they make, or they won’t tell us anything at all. Which is why we need you, and our panel, to help us see past the smoke and mirrors.

The results should be interesting, and hopefully worth arguing over at Mumbrella360, on June 7, when we share them with you.

Robin Hicks, deputy editor, Mumbrella


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