Campaign India Team
Jun 06, 2018

Agency-client relationships in India see a major improvement: R3 and SCOPEN’s Agency Scope study

Relationships between agencies and clients in India are on a strong wicket, according to a recent study. Ogilvy and JWT are most recalled creative agencies. In media, Madison is the highest in recall while the recently created Wavemaker scores high in client satisfaction.

Agency-client relationships in India see a major improvement: R3 and SCOPEN’s Agency Scope study

The relationships between agencies and their clients in India is on a strong wicket, according to the recently unveiled R3 and SCOPEN’s AGENCY SCOPE Study. This is only the second time that the study has been conducted in India. The first study was conducted way back in 2009.

Marketers from 57 different leading companies were interviewed to understand the process, perception and performance of the agencies they work with. The report analysed over 120 client-agency relationships. 

In this edition of the study, creative relationships saw a major increase to 4.7 years (as the average tenure when agencies and clients work together). This was a remarkable improvement from the first wave of the study when client-agency relationships for creative agencies was 3.4 years.

Even the relationship between media agencies operating in India and their clients showed signs of improvement. The average tenure of media agency relationships increased to 4.5 years from 4.1 years in the previous edition of the study.

In both cases, this is either on par with or slightly above the global benchmark.


Where India really differs from other major markets is in the number of creative agencies each company works with. In India, marketers work with an average of 1.4 creative agencies, well below the global benchmark of 4.3 agencies.

The study cites that this is largely due in part to the fact that 80 per cent of client-agency relationships are ongoing relationships (as opposed to being project-based).

Ogilvy and J Walter Thompson are the most spontaneously recalled creative agencies in India. Ogilvy was named the most creative, most attractive for pitches and most ‘ideal’ agency by Indian marketers. J Walter Thompson is the agency with highest client satisfaction.
When analysing media agencies, Madison Media is the most spontaneously recalled media agency, the most attractive for pitches and most ‘ideal’ media agency, while Wavemaker is the agency with highest client satisfaction.
Low scores in digital
However, there was a lot of scope for improvement for both media and creative agencies in their digital capabilities.
Digital capabilities was named as the biggest weakness of creative agencies in India. For media agencies, the biggest weakness is fully understanding the digital media ecosystem. Globally, there is an overall shift towards working with integrated agencies, and India is in line with that trend with 68 per cent of marketers primarily working with integrated agencies. However, half of marketers interviewed in the study would choose a specialist agency if it met their needs. 
Investment in digital is still relatively low in India, particularly when compared to other digitally savvy markets like China, Brazil, the UK or the US. Above-the-line remains the biggest investment for marketers working with both creative and media agencies at around 45 per cent, while digital accounts for only 24 per cent of the marketing budget. 
This low investment in digital can be largely tied to agency capabilities, the study noted.
Most respected marketers
Local brands topped the best creative campaigns list.
According to senior marketers in India, Amazon tops the list of best creative campaigns in the last two years in the number one spot. However, local telecom brand, airtel, and e-commerce giant Flipkart came in second and third, respectively. Other local brands like Paytm, Axis Bank, Idea Cellular, Parle, and Tanishq fill out the list. When it comes to companies overall marketing efforts, multinationals Unilever, Vodafone and Coca-Cola take the top three spots. 
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