NESHAN, The Iranian Graphic Design Magazine

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Neshan 39

Design Today

The World’s Advertisement Giants

Babak Madandar

About a hundred years have passed since the emergence of advertising agencies. Madison Avenue ideas are still alive and have undergone several changes based on the needs of the audience and clients –changes that are currently improving with an incredible speed due to many reasons such as the media behavior of the audience.
    Along with brands that have developed in terms of production, sales, and marketing, advertising agencies have expanded their knowledge in fields related to communications, particularly in marketing, in order to provide clients with solutions that fit more precisely their needs. Today, designers and art directors are well aware that their works must be in line with marketing goals and strategies. In fact, agencies have filled the gap between advertisement and marketing through IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications) which lies at the intersection of the two industries.
    Once the marketing industry matured and stimulated the growth of advertising offices and companies in the world, particularly in the United States, big networks and holdings emerged which are known today as marketing giants. In the following paragraphs, six international marketing giants are briefly introduced.
    WPP was founded in 1985 and is based in London. It has 3000 offices in 112 countries and 402 subsidiary companies and agencies. With an income of over 11 billion pounds in 2015, WPP is considered the world’s biggest advertising group and is focused on branding and brand identity, consumer insight, design, digital, marketing, market research, planning, public relations, and relationship marketing. From 2011 to 2015, WPP was entitled the best holding of the year by Cannes Lions. Ogilvy, which is doubtlessly considered as one of the most influential advertising agencies of the world in the past decades, is one of WPP’s subsidiary companies. Brands such as Nestlé, IBM, Rolls Royce, Ford, and Dove owe what they have in the area of brand communications to this agency. Ogilvy has frequently received awards in different competitions thanks to its precious works for these clients. Not surprisingly, therefore, today designers and art directors dream of working with this agency. One of its lasting and influential projects was the outdoor advertising of IBM which attempted to creatively offer a new possibility to the audience through the simple and non-standard design of an advertisement environment; just like what a brand does for its consumers. Some of its latest works in the design section of Cannes Festival 2016 include advertisements for Qatar International Bank and IKEA. The bank advertisement earned a bronze medal because of its appropriate use of Islamic patterns for evoking a social culture.
    JWT (J. Walter Thompson), Grey, and Young and Rubicam are three other agencies of this group and are big names in the world of advertisement.
    The out-of-home advertising of Samsonite is a case that is used in advertisement text books because of its correct choice of customer insight. This advertisement is designed by JWT Shanghai and has won Cannes 2011 and Clio 2012 awards. In addition, the advertisement for Langenscheidt language institute designed by Germany’s Grey Agency which received the final award of New York Festivals 2012 and Young and Rubicam Agency’s advertisement for Landrover which won the Cannes 2010 award are other examples.
    The next group is Omnicom headquartered in New York. This American giant, with more than 71 thousand employees in 100 countries and an income of over 15 billion USD is considered as WPP’s main rival. The eclat of Omnicom’s creative affiliate agencies such as BBDO, DDB, and TBWA, and the awards they have scooped in different festivals through the recent years mark the significant progress of this group. As a result, this year, after many years the company has succeeded to overtake its main rival with fewer employees and affiliates.
    BBDP is the showcase for the group’s success. Having won numerous awards in creativity, innovation, and design for brands such as Emirates Airline, Pepsi, AT&T, FedEx, M&M’s, Starbucks, and Smart, the company stands far higher than other agencies. The advertisement for Smart electric car which won the final award of New York Festivals in 2011 is a perfect example of successful design of an advertisement related to brand identity.
Another agency belonging to this group is DDB founded by the legend of advertisement world, William Bernbach. His dateless advertisement for Volkswagen Beetle created a revolution in the world of advertisement. Unlike the standard design of the advertisements of the time, he placed a small picture of the car - which was one thirty-fifth the size of the gray background - in the power point of the frame and enclosed a note underneath the picture frame. Thereby, the message was correctly transmitted to the audience; audience who were then used to bulky and gas guzzler Chevrolet and Cadillac. Beetle and its distinctions could significantly influence their lives. McDonald’s and Volkswagen owe their recent success in creating a different image of their brand to DDB.
The third rank among advertisement holdings belongs to Publicis, a French group headquartered in Paris with an income of 6.9 billion Euros in 2015. Owning two advertisement boutiques, namely Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi, in addition to BBH, Publicis has achieved an iconic status in the field of creativity and design.
The advertisement for Tide by Saatchi & Saatchi Argentina who won Cannes, Clio, and New York Festivals prizes in 2015 clearly demonstrates the agency’s preference and approach. They tend to use a special coding in designing the advertisements which makes the audience feel smart and positive about themselves and the brand after unraveling the visual puzzles. The advertisement of Jeep by Leo Burnett in São Paulo, Brazil is another noteworthy example which employs the iteration technique in advertisement design and has earned Cannes 2014 and Clio 2015 awards.
Three or four years ago, the breaking news of the merger of Publicis and Omnicom surprised everyone, since it would lead to radical transformations in the world of advertisement and communications. However, in 2014 it was announced that the two holdings have not reached an agreement.
The American IPG (Interpublic Group) holds the fourth rank and wields power through McCann, FCB, and Lowe (Mullenlowe) agencies. One of the fifteen best campaigns of the world according to Ad Age Magazine was carried out by McCann Melbourne Agency for the Australian Metro Trains. Their solution “Dumb ways to die” (for preventing suicidal deaths in Australian metro) used charming cartoon characters who sang and killed themselves in increasingly stupid ways. This campaign won numerous awards in 2012 and promoted a correct culture with the aid of various media. In 2016, FCB won the Cannes award in design section for the posters and magazine advertisements it had designed for its client, Boeing. In order to familiarize children with the wonders of flying, they invited flight engineers to design new paper rockets and used the flat designs as posters and advertisements.
The fifth group is Dentsu from Japan. Owner of 30 percent of Japan’s public media and also active in Asia, the company has generated an income of about two billion Euros in 2015.
Finally, the sixth group is HAVAS from France which specializes in creativity under HAVAS and Arnold Creative names.
It must be noted that these big advertising agencies and holdings are not necessarily the best option for brands and their oerating model is not ideal. Apart from groups and networks, there are also large and small, old and new, independent agencies who successfully work with the world’s big brands, including M&C Saatchi, Droga5, Wieden+Kennedy, Gyro, ZWM, Herezie, etc. Working with giants or small boutiques each has its own advantages and disadvantages and the brands make their choice based on their strategy and goals.
Today, positioning of agencies as a brand has become extremely complicated and is changing year by year. Brands change according to the needs of the market (inter-organizational) and this change triggers various transformations in the organization, product or service, and the work relations of agencies. Agencies tend to distinguish themselves through:
    •    popularity and background of the personnel and colleagues;
    •    expertise in a particular market sector such as consumer goods, health, tourism, etc.;
    •    size of the organization and number of personnel;
    •    diversity of services.
Certainly, creativity, innovation, and design are factors that many claim to have. Agencies transmit their message to the audience through employing art directors, designers, and illustrators interested in advertisement and brand and using art and design. In fact, advertisement is a solution for marketing and design is a solution for advertisement. Color combination, form, type, and layout or, in general, advertisement design is a crucial point in the production process -from order to performance. The efforts of all the teams within an agency, from customer services, strategy, and idea development to brand management team and the huge budgets accorded to media, all add to the significance of the design phase. Designers and art directors and their skills enrich the team’s entire work so that it is both consistent with the brand and bears the signature of the agency.
Finally, the best way to discover the identity and DNA of an agency is to follow its footprints and identify their position in relation to other agencies.

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