NEW YORK: Fewer advertising accounts are being put up for review or changing hands in the US, in a sign of enduring caution among brand owners.

According to figures from AdWeek, 73 briefs with a net value of $7.8bn (€6.5bn; £5.4bn) were put up for pitch or shifted to a different agency in the first five months of 2010.

This compared with 79 briefs, worth a collective $9.1bn, which were subject to the same process between January and May 2009.

The industry title only assessed new business wins relating to creative or media duties – or a combination of the two – for brands with an annual media budget of at least $20m (€16.7m; £13.8m).
One of the biggest moves of this year to date has been Goodby, Silverstein & Partners taking over $50m creative responsibilities for Chevrolet, the auto marque, from Campbell-Ewald.

Elsewhere, Mcgarrybowen, owned by Dentsu, was recently appointed to $25m lead agency duties by Verizon Wireless, the telecoms giant.

The poor economy is believed to be a major reason why brand owners are more likely to retain their existing agencies.

More specifically, the fact that US unemployment is running at nearly 10% is causing anxiety among shoppers and thus encouraging marketers to stick with tried and tested formulas.

Official figures released last week said 411,000 of the 431,000 jobs added in May were temporary roles associated with the census, indicating the outlook is unlikely to improve in the short-term.

"The consumer has hung in OK. But with unemployment still as high as it is, that's going to [be] a restraint on spending," said Tom Finneran, evp of the 4A's, the trade body. 

More broadly, Joanne Davis, head of Joanne Davis Consulting, argued that the slowdown in account was the result of a more structural trend.

"A lot of the big global players operate in waves," she said. "So, if 2009 was big, 2010 will be smaller."

Data sourced from AdWeek; additional content by Warc staff