In its eagerly awaited annual Advertising Agency Report for 2002, Advertising Age reveals a major upset at the top of the global pecking order, with WPP Group relegated to third position behind Omnicom Group and Interpublic Group.

This turnabout is partially attributable to a change in the methodology used this year by Ad Age, now based solely on the full-year historical revenues recorded by agency groups using GAAP (generally accepted accounting practice).

This reflects the reluctance of most of the global agency holding companies to release individual brand revenues in the light of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, passed by Congress in July 2002 following the Enron and other corporate frauds. The act allows far less ‘flexibility’ in the presentation of financial data.

Based on the new measurement criteria, the top ten global agency groups in 2002, ranked by worldwide gross income from all marketing-related activities were:

(2001 ranking in parentheses; $1 billion = €0.921bn; £0.641bn)
1. (3) Omnicom $7.536.3

2. (2) Interpublic $6.203.6

3. (1) WPP $5.7815

4. (5) Publicis $2.7119

5. (4) Dentsu $2.0609

6. (6) Havas $1.8416

7. (7) Grey Global $1.1997

8. (9) Hakuhodo $0.8608

9. (8) Cordiant Communications $0.7885

10. (11) Asatsu-DK $0.3395

As a consolation prize for WPP Group, its J Walter Thompson network took pride of place as America’s largest agency brand with an ad-only income of $393.7 million.

In second place was Leo Burnett Worldwide with an estimated $379m; followed by McCann-Erickson Worldwide at $327.1m.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff