UM, Cossette Media and Touche lead RECMA’s Canadian ratings

Despite the challenges of 2020, the report also reflects a healthy media-buying landscape.

UM Canada, Cossette Media and Touché did the best job among Canadian media agencies of weathering the challenges of 2020, according to RECMA’s latest rankings.

Released twice a year, the rankings are based on two measurements: an agency’s vitality score, a qualitative metric based on criteria such as competitiveness in pitches, pitch participation rates, revenue from new business, awards and the stability of top management; and a structure score, which measures things like internal resources, staff expertise and long-term client relationships.

UM, Cossette and Touché topped the vitality rankings, receiving high marks in their performance in competitive pitches over the last three years, and all three also outpaced other agencies in their balance of new business over the last year. Each of their combined scores led to a “Dominant” classification from RECMA, a distinction given to less than 10% of the 700 agencies RECMA reports on globally.

UM and Cossette also led Canadian agencies on client portfolio growth, and tied with Carat and OMD on pitch participation.

Havas Media, PHD and Starcom all also had a B+ grade in competitive pitches in the last two years, indicating they won more accounts than they lost. Dentsu X, Starcom and Spark foundry also had the strongest activity growth over the last three years.

Looking at the structure scores, OMD jumps to the top spot, followed by UM and Touche! OMD ranked highly when it came to the digital and content experts on staff, as well as for the size of its clients, local roots and average length of client relationship. UM got high marks in data, digital and “non-traditional” activity, while Touche! ranked among the best in terms of content expertise.

Going by holding company, Omnicom’s group of agencies ranked first, followed by Mediabrands, Vision7, Dentsu, GroupM, Publicis and Havas.

The data – despite the pandemic – describes a healthy media buying landscape. Over the past five years, RECMA reports the highest volume of pitches/accounts going into review in Canada in 2018 (107), dropping significantly in 2019 (79), and back up slightly last year (80). For 2020, this translates into $550 million worth of accounts that went under review, of which $65 million (eight pitches) was retained.

So, while there have been ongoing discussions around an overall decrease in Canadian ad spend for 2020, RECMA’s Canadian report clearly indicates a strong level of pitch activity over the course of the year, numbers that, according to RECMA, more accurately reflect the health of a market than ad spend itself.