The global market size of media agencies in 2022 was $383.67 billion, and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 9.6% through 2026. With an annual revenue of $17.85 billion, WPP plc is the largest advertising agency in the world. Let us find the other top ten media agencies in the world.
Evolving with the rapid digitalising trends, the media and advertising industry also underwent a huge transition. With increased access to digital devices and internet facilities, consumers have more opportunities than ever to access the content. According to a study by Red Crow Marketing Inc, an average American is exposed to between 4,000-10,000 ads per day.
From social media platforms to billboards on our commutes, we're constantly exposed to advertisements. Ever wondered who's behind these captivating campaigns and innovative marketing strategies? It's the advertising agencies that play a pivotal role in shaping the global advertising landscape.
Media agencies, basically, advise companies on how and where to advertise (including via pay-for-performance formats) and other forms of media management. They ensure that a client's marketing message appeals to consumers, appears in the right place, at the right time and that the advertiser pays the best possible price.
Here we present a closer look at the top 10 media agencies in the world, exploring the giants that are making an impact on our everyday lives:
- WPP plc
WPP plc, a London-based multinational holding company with a revenue of $17.85 billion in 2022, operates across various sectors, including communications, public relations, technology, and, of course, advertising. With a presence on both the London Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange, WPP plc owns numerous subsidiary advertising, media, and public relations networks.
WPP has been involved in a diverse range of campaigns across its various agencies. Some of these initiatives include leveraging technology to showcase the well-being of Honest Eggs Co.'s chickens, using AI to explore the power of the subconscious mind with HungerStation's The Subconscious Order, defusing tense moments with Sprite's Heat Happens, Stay Cool, celebrating the contributions of ground staff with Cadbury Dairy Milk's Proud Sponsors of the Ground Staff.
WPP also promoted sustainability by turning 'use by' dates into 'use for' the environment with SuperMax's Reusables, raising awareness of period stigma through ZEVA Fashion's Stain Not Shame, making oral care accessible with One Size Fits One, creating the first in-game e-cycling center with Intel's eCycleLand, addressing the harmful impact of toxic online beauty content with Dove's The Cost of Beauty.
The agency also used typography to fight for equality with Fight Sexism with Sexism, reimagining classic art using AI with Nestlé's The Milkmaid, ventured into the digital frontier with Yves Saint Laurent Beauty's Step into Web3, captured soldiers' memories with True Patriot Love Foundation's Remastered Memories, and unlocked a world of color through voice with Sherwin-Williams Coil Coatings' Speaking in Colour.
2. Omnicom Group
Omnicom Group Inc., headquartered in the heart of New York City, has an annual revenue of $14.29 billion. This American corporate communications and marketing holding company operates globally, serving clients across various sectors, offering expertise in advertising, public relations, customer relationship management, and specialty services.
In words of John Wren, President and CEO, Omnicom Group:
“Producing great work that drives results for our clients is why we come to work every day. It is especially gratifying to see Omnicom recognized by WARC as having five of the top ten individually ranked agencies, three of the top five networks, and being the top-ranked holding company. I could not be prouder of our teams.”
3. Publicis Groupe
Publicis Groupe, the largest advertising company in France and a prominent member of the "Big Five'' advertising agencies, was founded in 1926. Today, it operates in over 105 countries, providing a wide range of advertising services, both traditional and digital.
Publicis Groupe has been behind a range of innovative campaigns, including Mercedes-Benz's commitment to power its plants with renewable energy, creatively transforming wind turbines into brand installations. Its Saatchi & Saatchi Australia's campaign for Toyota's Kluger Hybrid, emphasises freedom and family, and Publicis Luxe Paris's dynamic campaign for Lacoste's L.12.12, celebrates the iconic polo shirt's versatility.
The BBH London's Tesco had encouraged support for local pubs upon their reopening in the UK, and Publicis Brazil's "Paint FM" campaign for C&C, used songs with color-themed titles to promote paint. Leo Burnett Colombia's revolutionary eCommerce initiative for Falabella, enabled retail workers to host personalized online stores with their favorite products and earn commissions, fostering work-from-home opportunities during the pandemic.
4. The Interpublic Group of Companies
The Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG), headquartered in New York, is one of the "Big Five" advertising agencies. The company's major networks include IPG Mediabrands, FCB, McCann Worldgroup, MullenLowe Group, and Marketing Specialists, offering services ranging from branding to healthcare marketing.
Some of these campaigns include ScottsMiracle-Gro's release of water-conscious Greenprints, focusing on sustainable gardening practices; McCann Global Health's highlighting of the financial impact of vaping; The Martin Agency and Bud Light celebrating NFL fans' gameday traditions; Carmichael Lynch and Subaru's celebration of accessible outdoor recreation; FCB Chicago and Current Global launching the 'Banned Book Club'; Momentum and Bupa's #TeamHealth campaign; Cappuccino and UNESCO's use of AI to combat elder abuse in Brazil; FCB Canada and adidas championing Down syndrome athletes in 'Runner 321'; McCann and Mastercard winning nine Lions for the 'Where to Settle' campaign; MRM Detroit and GM's CarBravo introducing 'Usedphoria'; Momentum's sustainable innovation space design for Verizon's 'London Hub'; The Martin Agency's 'Frenemy' campaign featuring Will Arnett for GEICO; MullenLowe and Lifebuoy building upcycled handwashing stations; Microsoft and McCann digitizing the Pulaar language with the ADLaM alphabet.
Dentsu is the largest advertising agency in Japan and one of the oldest advertising agencies globally, founded in 1901. With a revenue of $8.23 billion, Dentsu operates in 145 countries and is known for its international presence and contributions to the advertising industry. The company offers a wide range of services, including marketing, public relations, digital, media, and global business.
Dentsu has been involved in a diverse range of campaigns, including Tuna Scope, KFC's 5000th Store opening, the Cadillac Live Experience, Seize the Awkward, campaigns for Dyslexia Canada, the OREO Doomsday Vault, Crayola's Color Your World, the Intel Evo Experience, and campaigns for healthcare providers like Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare and Ascensia Diabetes Care. They've also worked on initiatives with major brands like Foot Locker, Royal Caribbean, Supercell, and MINI.
Its campaigns extend to various sectors, such as pharmaceuticals, including multiple myeloma and myeloid leukemia multi-channel campaigns, as well as partnerships with companies like Kroger, Adidas, Copa Airlines, Sprint, and Avocados From Mexico. They've also collaborated on unique customer journeys with ViiV Healthcare and Mastercard, celebrated milestones with Bvlgari and the Sundance Film Festival, and engaged with auto manufacturers, media organizations, pet food brands like Freshpet, and toy companies like Mattel.
The Japanese advertising agency Hakuhodo has a history dating back to 1895. Founded by Nihonbashi-Honshiroganecho, it stands as one of Japan's oldest advertising agencies. Initially, it served as an advertising space broker and wholesaler for educational magazines. A significant turning point occurred in 1910 when the company broke through its obscurity by securing contracts for front-page newspaper advertisements. Over the subsequent decades, their expansion took various forms, including absorbing other agencies from 1937 to 1944, establishing a radio advertising department in 1951, and forming a TV group in 1953. In 1996, Hakuhodo played a pivotal role in co-founding the DAC Consortium, a consolidated alliance of influential Japanese global media players focused on digital innovation.
In the year 2000, Hakuhodo embarked on an international venture by creating Hakuhodo-Percept, a joint venture with the Indian agency Percept, aimed at targeting the Indian advertising market. Notably, in December 2002, Hakuhodo achieved a significant milestone with the launch of the first advertising campaign featuring the Beckhams together, prominently displayed on billboard screens in Tokyo.
In October 2003, Hakuhodo underwent a transformative merger, becoming part of Hakuhodo DY Holdings, a pivotal moment that led to the establishment of Hakuhodo DY Media Partners Inc., a unique media and entertainment company in 2003. Subsequently, in February 2009, Hakuhodo announced a strategic partnership with the US-based global public relations firm Ketchum.
The company continued to expand its global presence by acquiring various US-based companies, including SYPartners LLC and Red Peak Group LLC in May 2014, the marketing company Digital Kitchen in June 2015, the Montreal-based creative agency Sid Lee in July 2015, and the Singapore-based agency Integrated Communications Group (ICG) in February 2017. Additionally, in February 2016, the Japanese company acquired a 30% stake in Palo Alto-based IDEO.
Havas, headquartered in Paris, France, operates in over 100 countries. It is a multinational advertising and public relations company divided into Havas Creative Group, Havas Media Group, and Havas Health You. These divisions offer services spanning direct marketing, media planning, digital marketing, and public relations.
Notable campaigns include Wan Chai Ferry's clever social campaign that linked 'bag' and 'bun' in Chinese characters, and the humorous "The Punishment" by CANAL+ Switzerland to differentiate the brand in the streaming platform market. Flybondi's Halloween costume disguised as a carry-on and Marvel's pixel-made popcorn ad reignited the magic of cinema.
KFC's Euro 2021 campaign showcased chicken juggling skills, while BNY Mellon spotlighted clients making a positive impact. Havas also championed crucial causes, from child protection with L'enfant Bleu to equality for female athletes with "Raparigas da Bola" and awareness of child abuse through "Innocence en Danger."
8. MDC Partners
New York-based MDC Partners, with an annual revenue of $1.30 billion, operates across marketing, advertising, technology, media management, analytics, and strategic consulting. Known for its partnership model, MDC Partners invests in creative, digital-focused firms, with a growing international presence.
MDC Partners, initially established as Multi Discipline Communications in 1980 in Toronto by its founder, Miles Nadal, underwent significant transformations and expansions over the years. After going public with an IPO on October 16, 1987, the company operated two distinct divisions during the 1990s: Marketing and Communications, as well as Secure Transaction Products, which encompassed the production of various items like checks, credit and debit cards, tickets, and stamps. Towards the late 1990s, MDC shifted its focus towards expanding its marketing and communications sector. Through acquisitions and organic growth, it penetrated the U.S. market, achieving over CAD$1 billion in revenue by 2000.
In 2001, MDC initiated a partnership with the agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Then, in January 2004, the company rebranded itself as MDC Partners Inc. Notably, in 2008, MDC made history as the first advertising firm to develop a capability specifically for automated, or programmatic media trading, with the establishment of Varick Media Management. Further bolstering its presence in the industry, MDC acquired Anomaly in 2010 and 72andSunny in 2011.
However, the company faced a leadership change in July 2015 and Scott Kauffman, MDC's presiding director of the board, assumed the roles of Chairman and CEO. In December 2015, the company achieved recognition by ranking 8th in Advertising Age's global ranking of Agency Networks, based on cumulative award wins. The transformative journey continued with the acquisition of Swedish creative agency Forsman & Bodenfors in June 2016, forming a strategic partnership with sister agency CP+B under Kauffman's leadership. MDC's growth trajectory also included a 51% majority stake acquisition in digital creative agency Instrument in April 2018. Notably, in March 2019, Mark Penn was appointed CEO of MDC Partners, accompanied by a $100 million investment from The Stagwell Group, further solidifying the company's future prospects.
9. Publicis Sapient
Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Publicis Sapient is an American company that specializes in digital marketing and helps clients navigate the ever-evolving digital market.
Sapient, founded on November 6, 1990 by Jerry Greenberg and J. Stuart Moore, initially emerged as a digital consulting firm with a distinctive approach. Instead of the conventional time and materials billing model, Sapient adopted a fixed-term, fixed-price model for its IT consulting projects. As the company rode the wave of internet-based technology, internet-related work constituted a significant portion of its revenue, accounting for over 70% by 1999. During the period from 1992 to 2000, Sapient experienced rapid expansion, witnessing its revenue soar from $950,000 to an impressive $503 million.
In response to the dot-com bubble's burst in the early 2000s, Sapient pursued an international expansion strategy to fuel its growth trajectory. This strategic move, known as "Global Distributed Delivery," capitalized on India's burgeoning tech market to bolster its software development capabilities. Throughout its storied history, Sapient embarked on several strategic acquisitions, with notable examples including Planning Group International in 2006. These acquisitions enriched its offerings, such as the addition of DCG Group in 2008, which enhanced its capital markets capabilities, and The Nitro Group in 2009, bringing in 300 additional employees to contribute to its growth and development.
10. Porter Novelli
Founded in 1972 in New York City, Porter Novelli is a global communications consultancy. In particular, Porter Novelli’s focus is purpose-driven marketing. One-time CEO, Brad McCaffee, explains:
“Purpose defines an organization’s authentic role and value in society [and] that allows it to simultaneously grow its business and positively impact the world.”
Porter Novelli has received attention for campaigns including an HIV prevention campaign for the Centers for Disease Control, the USDA MyPyramid food guidance system, the M&M's Global Color Vote, and the Almond Board of California's "Carpe PM" campaign. In 1998, the firm launched Florida's anti-tobacco "Truth" campaign, which expanded nationally two years later. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in 2009 gave the firm a three-year contract to support its "Learn More Breathe Better" campaign for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease awareness. In 2015, Porter Novelli helped facilitate the Ice Bucket Challenge with the ALS Association, and guided the campaign to receive more national and international media attention.
In July 2020, the firm was awarded the inaugural "Best Use of Data Visualisation Award" at the virtual Communiqué 2020 event for its work on Pfizer's campaign titled “From Data to Policy Action: How Pfizer’s CTRL Cancer Partnership is Facilitating Policy Change to Improve Cancer Care in Central and Eastern Europe.”
With a driving passion to create a relatable content, Pallavi progressed from writing as a freelancer to full-time professional. Science, innovation, technology, economics are very few (but not limiting) fields she zealous about. Reading, writing, and teaching are the other activities she loves to get involved beyond content writing for intelligenthq.com, citiesabc.com, and openbusinesscouncil.org