Credit where it's due...
...and discredit where it's not, too.
A few people have recently wondered why TWL hasn't done anything with the recent PRWeak (sorry, fellas, there's me misspelling the brand name again...) Top 150 League Tables.
Isn't it obvious? You just can't trust the bloody numbers. For us to comment on the league table would be akin to Michael Fish commenting on the weather forecasting skills of a wino sticking a wet finger in the air.
Before PRWeak itself did its "restating" (and more on that in a minute) you only needed to scan down the top 20 to start seeing some anomalies.
Look at The Red Consultancy for instance. Sitting at number 16 with a whopping 43% year on year growth in fee income. That's impressive...or is it? When you look at the actual numbers, 2006 fee income is stated as £9,177,279 while 2005 is listed at £8,890,10 (yes, there appears to be a number missing...looking back at last year's tables, there should be a "4" at the end). So this represents growth of about 3% for Red not 43%. But then percentages can be a bit tricky (I always struggled with simultaneous equations myself).
So, back to that "restating" of the numbers for some agencies. These were made, so PRWeak says, "following feedback from the industry". If what we've heard is close to the truth, the feedback was extremely direct and not at all positive. I'm understating that.
It's no surprise though when you see that, for instance, Burson Marstellar's apparent 13% fall in year on year revenue was converted to growth of 18% in the restated figures...equating to a piffling £4.9m of fee income. In fact, when you total up the difference between the original guesses PRWeak made regarding the fee incomes of the restated agencies (BM, Fleishman Hillard, Cohn & Wolfe, MS&L and Ogilvy...just the little guys then) the magazine managed to miss a shade under £18m of fee income.
OK, so agencies hiding behind Sarbanes Oxley hasn't made it any easier to pull the table together, but 18 million quid?! If only those agencies could hide it from the tax man so well...
I remember when the Top 150 was a really significant publication...chunky, with loads of ads from agencies proud to be featured. It's all rather thin these days...it's wasting away. Surely the kindest thing would be to put it out of its misery..?
I did mention credit where it's due though, didn't I?
Well, after our post last year regarding the dramatic slide of Portfolio Communications down the table, we're delighted to see that our old mate Mark Westaby has got the ship back under control, having posted a 7% growth in fee income in this year's tables! I'm assuming that Mark put these numbers together himself (or his bean counters did) and we can therefore trust their accuracy. The numbers have Portfolio holding steady in 44th position, but it's good to see that it's back on the up...(though the website still highlights the numbers from two years ago, so really needs updating...)...well done Mark!
Anyone who lists a corkscrew as their favourite gadget in the PRWeak Power Book can't be all bad...