Despite the widespread gloom surrounding the UK ad industry in recent months, the number of clients holding reviews in the first quarter jumped 79% year-on-year, according to the newbizmoves data compiled by the Advertising Agency Register and MediaTel.

Two hundred and fifteen reviews were announced during Q1, up from 120 in the same period last year. However, the aggregated billings of first-quarter pitches only rose 13% year-on-year to £673 million, suggesting that the accounts under review in Q1 tended to belong to smaller-spending advertisers.

Commented Martin Jones, owner of the AAR: “Undoubtedly the [negative] perception of the market is based on the lack of major national clients holding competitive pitches this year.”

Indeed, major pitches over recent months have tended to be international – such as Vizzavi, Marconi, Ericsson or the World Gold Council – or roster reviews (among them Unilever, Wella and Kraft). In addition, big-spending advertisers like Vodafone and NatWest have appointed agencies for their UK duties without formal pitches.

Creative account pitches appear to have been particularly numerous during the first quarter – 66% of all reviews were creative-only, up from 53% in Q1 2000. It was also a strong quarter for direct marketing shops, with big UK clients such as Orange, RBS/NatWest, One2One and BT all reviewing accounts. Media reviews, on the other hand, were less in evidence, dropping from 32% of the total to 25%.

Furnishing further evidence of the collapse in dotcom adspend over the last year, a meagre 7% of reviews were launched by online firms, down from 28% in Q1 2000.

News source: CampaignLive (UK) [25-May-01]