IDEAS SPUR AGENCY GROWTH

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There's good news in Advertising Age's 51st annual Agency Report contained in this issue. For the first time since 1984, domestic growth among the nation's top 500 agencies was 10.7%-yes, that's double digits! Gross income was $9.38 billion on billings of $71.84 billion, the latter up 10.4%. This is the U.S. industry's first double-digit growth since 1984.

A number of trends can be noted from our Agency Report, and hopefully they are fueling a continuation of growth. Name changes are taking place on a wholesale basis. Among the nation's medical shops, Frank J. Corbett Inc. became Corbett HealthConnect to get healthcare providers interested in its services, while CommonHealth USA is the name of WPP Group's combined activities in this growing field (the former Deltakos and Thomas Ferguson Associates).

True North Communications replaced Foote, Cone & Belding Communications as that holding company's moniker, to reflect a new course for the No. 11 ad organization: One headed "true north" into a diversity not conveyed by the Foote, Cone & Belding name.

True North is developing a tier of "divisions" that aren't all ad-agency related. One is TN Technologies, a joint venture with R/GA Digital Studios (special effects for movies). Meanwhile, Interpublic Group of Cos. formed an alliance with CKS Group, Cupertino, Calif., a new media, online and interactive specialist; D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles acquired Einstein & Sandom, New York, involved in creative interactive products such as software and marketing presentations; Leo Burnett Co. linked with Giant Step Productions.

Perhaps Keith Reinhard, CEO of DDB Needham Worldwide, our 1994 U.S. Agency of the Year (also disclosed in the Agency Report), best explained what might be behind 1994's growth when he said his just-completed task was to transform his agency from an advertising-centered focus to an idea-centered one.

Yes, today it's ideas in the broadest sense, not what's traditionally known as advertising, that is driving the agency business toward future growth.

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