In stark contrast to previous years, average billings at Britain’s top thirty ad agencies declined slightly in 2001, a reflection of the global economic slowdown. Nonetheless, retaining its spot as the UK’s biggest agency was Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

The figures from ACNielsen MMS show that BMP DDB, second in 2000, slumped to eleventh place following the loss of the Vodafone and ITV Digital accounts (worth £90 million combined).

Ousting BMP in the number two spot was McCann-Erickson, while Lowe – boosted by a new account from HSBC (£10m) and extra duties from clients such as Nestlé, Orange, Unilever and Coca-Cola – stormed up the table from tenth to third. Also, high-profile creative shop Mother made its first appearance in the rankings, coming in at number 28 due to a 40% surge in business.

The agency suffering the most acute drop in billings was St. Luke’s, down 52% on the back of such losses as HSBC and BSkyB (£40m), prompting the shop to plunge five places to 25. Leagas Delaney, meanwhile, recorded a 47.5% billings slump, booting the agency out of the top thirty altogether.

Curiously, Bartle Bogle Hegarty registered a 32% slip in business despite a healthy rate of account wins. The agency pointed to its growing number of global duties, which distort its position in the table of UK billings.

Rankings for the nation’s top media shops showed no less upheaval. Zenith Media relinquished its decade-long tenure of the top spot to Carat after losing £100m of billings from the likes of BMW and Bristol-Myers Squibb. OMD’s business, meanwhile, took a 33.41% nose dive following its loss of Boots.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff