PROMO 100 Jeopardy!: A potpourri of agency factoids culled from promo’s annual rankings.

By Jul 01, 2000

In compiling the promo 100 each June, we collect a multitude of information from participants that isn’t reflected in the agency rankings (although much of it is used to determine which companies we consider profile-worthy).

We hereby present, for the first time, industry information collected but not published along with the promo 100. (Due to the confidential nature of some of the information, we’re presenting most of it in top-line form without identifying specific agencies.)

To keep this overview from becoming a dry review of statistics, we’ll provide the data points Jeopardy! style – answers first, questions second (and explanations last). But with a nod to the game show du jour, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?, we’ll make the game multiple choice.

Answer: 22,369


A. How many trips to London were given away through sweepstakes in `99?

B. How may VW Beetles were used in mobile marketing campaigns?

C. How many former Procter & Gamble brand managers are currently working for other companies?

D. How many total employees do promo 100 agencies have?

The correct response: D. The promo 100′s rank-and-file swelled to 22,369, jumping more than 130 percent since 1998. The growth came not so much because agencies are rapidly staffing up to meet increasing demands from clients – although most are – but because of the rise of large, multi-divisional shops: DraftWorldwide (which ranked second on the list for 2000, and first entered the promo 100 in 1999) has 3,200 staffers, while newcomer Bounty SCA Worldwide (No. 24) boasts 1,700.

That leaves promo 100 shops with an inflated per-employee average of 223. Eliminating the agencies with headcounts greater than 500 (there were seven) brings the average to a slightly more realistic 109.

The largest payroll belongs to Impiric (No. 7), with a worldwide total of 3,500; PMC (No. 98) is the smallest with four full-timers.

Answer: $10.1 billion


A. How much did a Bismarck, ND, octogenarian claim to have spent trying to win the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes?

B. How much in endorsement dollars were given to professional athletes who were charged with a major felony in 1999?

C. How much will several big agencies spend to buy every other agency on the promo 100?

D. What are the total net billings for the promo 100?

The correct response: D. promo 100 agencies racked up $10.1 billion in billings, although the 10 largest agencies accounted for more than half of that figure – skewing the per-agency average upward to $100 million. Take away the 10 largest numbers and the average comes down to $53.5 million. Net revenues totaled $2.4 billion for an average of $25 million, or $16.1 million excluding the 10 largest shops.

Using the total figures also produces a very unpromotion-like net revenues-to-billings ratio of 25 percent. However, eliminating the agencies with the five lowest ratios (which ranged from 7.4% to 13.2%) and the five highest (including four agencies reporting no pass-through expenses) yields a 43.3 revenues-to-billings average, which is more in line with other industry research.

Answer: 38 percent


A. What percentage of phonecard recipients even look at the back of the card before the expiration date?

B. What percentage of consumers believe that some sweepstakes are fraudulent?

C. What percentage of consumers are certain that most sweepstakes are fraudulent?

D. What percentage of agency net revenues come from retainer agreements?

The correct response: D again. Agency-of-record relationships are the going trend, but promo 100 shops still earn their fees primarily on a project-by-project basis. The typical agency generates 38 percent of its net revenues from retainer agreements. Thirteen agencies work without any retainer fees at all, although two of them note that they still maintain AOR status with a number of clients. Only one shop claims to work exclusively through retainer agreements.

Answer: 40 percent


A. What percentage of agency execs used the term “win-win situation” at least once today?

B. What percentage of agency execs used the term “break through the clutter” today?

C. What percentage of all businesses in Wilton, CT, are promotion agencies?

D. What percentage of agency net-revenue growth came from new clients in 1999?

The correct response: You’ve caught onto the pattern. About 40 percent of total net-revenue growth came through new-client business last year, representing roughly $210 million. All but three agencies attributed more than 10 percent of their growth to work with new clients.

Final Jeopardy Answer:

The various divisions and brands of this consumer packaged goods giant solicited work from 22 agencies on the promo 100 in 1999, more than any other company.

Correct response: Who is Unilever?

Despite the influx of new names among the thousands of clients listed in the entry forms (including 84 Internet-based businesses), a handful of companies led by Unilever provided a large portion of the workload for promo 100 agencies last year.

United Distillers & Vintners, Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola Co., and many of the other usual promotional suspects were cited by multiple agencies (although such big names as ConAgra, Warner-Lambert, and Hershey Foods were noticeably less evident.)

Also commissioning substantial work were auto manufacturers, credit-card companies, telecommunications providers, and pharmaceutical houses, along with a few TV networks and retailers. One noteworthy standout was high-tech behemoth Microsoft Corp., which commissioned work from nine different agencies.