Arun Sudhaman 17 Dec 2009 // 12:29PM GMT
Looking back over 2009, one theme rings loud and clear: consolidation. It is a term that can be applied to any number of procurement-led global reviews - from HP, British Airways, HP again, Lufthansa, Microsoft, HP again...You get the picture. Perhaps of more interest, we have seen concrete consolidation in the agency world, via three major examples: MS&L merging with Publicis Consultants, Ketchum merging with Pleon, and Huntsworth's decision to whittle down its 26 agency brands to four. Already those decisions are starting to bear fruit. Grayling has bulked up to $150m after buying another agency in the US, making it the second biggest independent player after Edelman. MS&L Group won its first global mandate of note this year. And Ketchum Pleon has also been awarded significant new international business. All of these agencies want to move out of the mid-size bracket, and compete with the handful of big boys that are worth $400-$500m in annual revenues, and are often viewed by clients as the natural destination for global PR mandates. In that sense, these moves are long overdue - more competition at the top can only be of benefit to the industry in general. Inevitably, these developments also turn the spotlight on some of the other remaining mid-size contenders. Porter-Novelli, GolinHarris, Waggener-Edstrom and Cohn & Wolfe, to name four. In 2010, can we expect to see a little more expansionary zeal from this quartet?