On top of the world

The battle of the global heavyweights continues apace, with Landor Associates back in the frame after a couple of year’s absence from the Design Week consultancy survey. The biggest fee-earner from overseas work, the US-owned group is giving WPP Group’s worldwide identity business a run for its money in the overseas chart. But, in terms of global financial prowess, Enterprise IG reigns supreme – with a design fee-income which is a cut above the rest.

Last year we only published the ranking for overseas income, basing the charts largely on consultancies’ UK offices. This year we look at performance on a truly global stage (see table opposite), combining figures for UK and overseas business wherever it is billed from, as well as overseas earnings (see table, page 73).

Taking the global charts first, it is interesting that a couple of groups make the grade without the benefit of overseas offices. Imagination is a case in point, ranking sixth in the world in terms of fee-income generated solely by a UK team. CLK.MPL (19) and Revolution (20) also make the top 20 on the strength of UK offices.

Interbrand Newell and Sorrell (7) has an office in Amsterdam with 23 staff. However, billings are all done through London, which is why the group’s fee-income is the same in both the main Top 100 and global charts.

Interesting South African conglomerate KSDP Design Group doesn’t make it into the global Top 20. It stands at 25, despite owning groups in Amsterdam, London and Sydney, as well as in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Non-UK earnings of 5.5m – up 15 per cent from last year – place it 13th in the overseas chart.

Other overseas predators have fared better. The Coleman Group Worldwide (5), which owns Coleman Planet in the UK and Swiss group Coleman Schmidlin & Partner, ranks highest among the packaging and branding © groups. Its figures do not yet include its latest Continental deal with Dutch group Millford-Van den Berg. Renowned for exacting strong performances from its subsidiaries, The Coleman Group is worth keeping an eye on as it moves towards the Far East for new purchases, having completed its European network.

The Coleman Group’s corporate identity stablemate within Interpublic Group, Diefenbach Elkins (11), lags behind rivals Enterprise IG, Landor Associates, Interbrand Newell and Sorrell and Wolff Olins in the global stakes; and has reduced its overseas income by about a third. Its UK arm Diefenbach Elkins Davies Baron has, meanwhile, dropped back in the Top 100 chart, reporting a 25 per cent decline in design fees during 1998.

Income from non-UK offices has provided a major revenue stream for the Enterprise network, which has taken off this year in all the charts. But there has also been a big boom in fees earned through offices abroad for Fitch, which reports fees up a third on last year, Retail Planning Associates, up 21 per cent, and Cambridge Consultants, up a massive 122 per cent.

The ranking is slightly distorted this year in that Siegel & Gale, which ranked second last year, didn’t enter the survey. Whether or not this was a conscious move for the Anglo-American group, following the 20.4m buyout from parent company Saatchi & Saatchi Design last June, we don’t know. S&G’s pre-tax profits for the year to December 1997 were 2.06m and it reported global design fee-income of 18.1m in last year’s Design Week consultancy survey, of which 2.7m was earned in the UK.

Studio 36 and Rodney Fitch/Wickens Tutt Southgate are other non-starters, having not completed questionnaires this year. However, Allen International’s disappearance from the global charts is because last year it filled the form in incorrectly, putting down as “global” income work for overseas clients that was billed through the UK. The adjustment reflects on its performance in this year’s Top 100 listing.

There are some interesting newcomers to the global charts. MetaDesign’s offices in Berlin and San Francisco account for its position as eighth ranking overseas earner, working for clients such as car giants Volkswagen and Audi.

Dragon’s return to the survey puts it tenth among overseas earners, largely due to its Paris head office. Pentagram Design, through offices in New York and San Francisco, Crabtree Hall/ Plan Créatif, Marsteller Giant and DSGN (formerly Trademark Design) also make a showing.

You don’t have to be big to make a strong showing abroad, as the largely UK-based groups at the lower end of the overseas Top 20 show, but you do have to have a local presence.

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