Here are the not-quite-ready-for-A-List players, powers in their own right nipping at the heels of the industry's best. If you're not already doing so, be sure to keep a close eye on this group in 2008.
1. TBWA/CHIAT/DAY2007 turned out to be a big new-business year for the most awarded of ad networks, despite the loss of Sprint. TBWA/Chiat/Day's famed Playa del Rey, Calif., office won the $200 million Washington Mutual and $100 million Pioneer accounts without reviews. The performance signaled that the "Disruption" philosophy of Omnicom Group-owned TBWA was bearing fruit just as its author, TBWA Worldwide CEO Jean-Marie Dru, stepped out of the limelight. At year-end, Tom Carroll ascended to the top job, with Mr. Dru now chairman. Tops on Mr. Carroll's to-do list is finding a replacement for New York creative superstar Gerry Graf, who left this month. The Los Angeles office's stellar Apple work, courtesy of Lee Clow, had added ramifications and was partly behind Microsoft Corp.'s search for a new agency for part of its massive ad account.
2. BARTLE BOGLE HEGARTYOne of the most compelling creative networks, Bartle Bogle Hegarty had a strong 2007. Miller Brewing Co. picked BBH for its flagship Miller Lite brand, and the Publicis Groupe-backed network beat out sibling Saatchi & Saatchi and WPP Group's Y&R to bring in the $100 million-plus account. After a lengthy review, South Korean marketer LG Electronics consolidated its $350 million global brand and product account at BBH, and the agency is charged with creating a unified marketing message across LG's various business units around the world.
BBH had a high-profile leadership change last fall when Emma Cookson was appointed the new CEO in the New York office after former New York CEO Gwyn Jones moved into a global senior management role.
3. R/GAWhen it comes to digital production, Interpublic Group of Cos.' R/GA is still on top. CEO Bob Greenberg's agency continued its rapid growth in 2007, winning new business from Barnes & Noble and Discover Card in the U.S. and S.C. Johnson & Son in the U.K. It also grew relationships with big clients such as Johnson & Johnson, Nike and Verizon Wireless.
New York-based R/GA continued its push into mobile marketing in 2007 with its work for Nike Zoom, a cross-sport line of footwear. R/GA made Nike's first mobile site that streamed videos to users' handsets with this campaign, which featured more than 200 training videos from pro athletes. Internally, R/GA focused on growing its strategic services to scale by increasing planning capabilities and taking online media buying in-house.
4. NAKEDOpen in the U.S. for just 18 months, Naked, the communications-planning agency that helped revolutionize the ad business in the U.K., has already converted some major marketers to its philosophy. Its pitch: Consider all the consumer touch points a brand can use to communicate with its audience, including packaging, promotions, in-store, online, staff training, PR and events. The agency's massive account wins included 12 Johnson & Johnson brands and seven Kimberly-Clark Corp. brands. Under the leadership of founding partner John Harlow and U.S. founders M.T. Carney and Paul Woolmington, the New York office has grown to 42.
Now that it has a big client base, Naked needs to demonstrate how exactly it can help marketers break through the clutter.
5. DIGITASDigitas began 2007 with the close of a $1.3 billion acquisition by Publicis Groupe, but integration into the French holding company didn't slow down the agency. Armed with an impressive arsenal of measurement and analytic capabilities, Digitas won business from Miller Brewing Co., Mars, Staples, Nike, Walt Disney Co. and CNN, adding $70 million in new-business revenue.
Digitas also added top talent to its network, including Alan Rutherford, the former VP-global media for Unilever, and Tony Weisman, previously the chief marketing officer at DraftFCB. In the year ahead, watch whether Digitas can continue to burnish its reputation with more creative firepower. The agency already has a running start with its recent launch of Prodigious Worldwide, a stand-alone digital-production unit.
6. BBDO WORLDWIDEBBDO Worldwide outdid its big-tier Madison Avenue counterparts, keeping its new-business machine revving with more than $1 billion in new billings. The Omnicom Group shop brought home blockbuster wins including Best Buy and Monster, as well as smaller but coveted brands such as New Balance.
The agency did part with some big clients, though, including Jeep, E-Trade and Dell. Still, BBDO expanded several relationships, picking up more work for Pepsi, Mars, AT&T and Wrigley. Work for AT&T won the agency a gold Effie for the second year in a row. Under North American Chairman-Chief Creative Officer David Lubars, BBDO in 2007 produced smart, standout work in the U.S., such as the popular online campaign for M&M's, where consumers were invited to discover their "inner M."
7. CRAMER-KRASSELTCramer-Krasselt's 2007 started inauspiciously, with the agency quitting CareerBuilder in a rude huff after it was told the account was going into review following a poor showing in, of all things, USA Today's Super Bowl Ad Meter.
But standing up for itself seemed to win Cramer-Krasselt respect among prospective clients, and the Chicago independent went on to win agency-of-record duties for Porsche, Pfizer's Zantac, Sealy Corp. and Bissell. The agency also sewed up the consolidated business of longtime client Corona beer. And its distinctive work on Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America's sleep aid Rozerem -- featuring Abe Lincoln, a talking beaver and a deep-sea diver as dreams that miss you -- punctured pop culture, drawing (unpaid) references in "The Sopranos" and "The Simpsons."
8. LATINWORKSLatinWorks captured one of the most sought-after U.S. Hispanic accounts of the year, music website Batanga, by opening its pitch with a hilarious music video filmed at the agency and starring its entire staff of more than 70 people.
In 2007, the 9-year-old Hispanic shop was unstoppable on the new-business front, picking up eight accounts including Hyundai Motor America and a new-product assignment for Pepsi-Cola Co., helping it grow revenue 22%.
On the Super Bowl, Anheuser-Busch showcased a favorite LatinWorks spot featuring comedian Carlos Mencia teaching immigrants how to ask for a Bud Light in English. Domino's so liked the Austin, Texas, shop's take on its Crustalicious launch that the "Birds" campaign ran in the general market, too.
And that new-business video? It's still being watched on YouTube.
9. PUBLICISNot many agencies can claim to help the biggest marketer create a new model, but in 2007 Publicis did just that. The agency bested BBDO Worldwide to become the lead on Procter & Gamble Co.'s Oral-B business, demonstrating that a commitment to the integrated marketing model is paying off. Another big new-business victory came from Citi, which moved its $150 million global creative account from Publicis Groupe sibling shop Fallon to Publicis.
The agency, led creatively by USA Chief Creative Officer Bob Moore, continued to produce strong work for marketers such as Maytag, and its Seattle office produced some of the best work in the telecom category for T-Mobile, the fourth-largest wireless carrier. Not bad for an agency many had written off in recent years after it lost high-profile creative David Droga and key client Heineken.
10. DEUTSCHIn 2006, a post-Donny Deutsch rebounded from a disastrous stretch of client losses by grabbing former clients such as Ikea and DirecTV. In 2007, the Linda Sawyer-led agency broke ground with some prestige brands and moved a step closer to regaining its glory days thanks to a slew of new-business wins including Tesco's U.S. foray, USAA and the hotly contested Sony PlayStation, an account that should allow Deutsch to strut its creative stuff.
Organic growth was there as Deutsch saw increased confidence from General Motors Corp. -- which handed it Saturn even as GM took away its corporate ad business -- plus Novartis and Johnson & Johnson. With a solidified management team on each coast, an integrated model marketers seem to want and international aspirations, 2008 should be a big year.
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Publicis' Rob Feakins as the agency's creative head. Mr. Feakins is chief creative officer for Publicis, New York. Publicis is lead creatively by Bob Moore.