Winds of Change

Amid shifting dynamics, black ad agencies are adapting to stay alive

across the board in giving African American ad agencies more credibility,” says Eugene Morris, the association’s interim chairman. “There are a lot of things that need to be addressed, and addressing them as an individual agency just does not give you the leverage that’s needed. We need to be able to speak with a collective voice to make sure that we don’t become complacent or allow ourselves to be marginalized and have other people define who we are and what we should be.”

Advertising Agencies [Eligibility] An advertising agency must be at least 51% black-owned and have been fully operational for the previous calendar year. To qualify as a full-service advertising agency, the company must provide creative services as well as make media placements: purchasing time and/or space for a clients’ advertising. Companies that only provide consulting services, create or produce advertising, or do media placements do not qualify as full-service agencies. (We canvassed the Standard Directory of Advertising Agencies, combed industry publications, and made inquiries in the field to identify full-service agencies.)

An agency’s financial status is measured in terms of billings — monies allocated by an advertiser to its agency to buy time on television and/or radio or space in publications. These media outlets then pay a commission back to the agency in the form of a discount, typically between 15% and 20%, which the agency counts as revenue. Other sources of revenue include production fees that the agency charges its clients and fees for adjunct services such as public relations, consulting, and promotional work. Our ranking of the 15 top agencies is based on a combined total of actualized billings, in addition to capitalized billings (commissions that haven’t been paid but the media buys were completed), and other agency fees reported as revenues — an accepted industry practice for reporting earnings.
Top Billings & Employees

Black-Owned Ad Agencies  2004  2003 % Change
Number of Employees 984 961 2.39
Billings* $1,780.594 $1,551.419 14.77
* IN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, TO THE NEAREST THOUSAND.
AS OF DEC. 31. PREPARED BY B.E. RESEARCH.
REVIEWED BY THE CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM EDWARDS & CO.

 

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