Serviceplan Group: Financial Year 2018/19

Munich House of Communication
CEO Florian Haller

Financial Year 2018/19: Serviceplan Group Grows Above Industry Average

The Serviceplan Group has closed another financial year of continued growth. With EUR 442 million the global agency fees increased by 7% compared to the previous year and is thus well above the average growth in the agency sector.

Munich, 24 July 2019 – The Serviceplan Group, Europe’s largest owner- and partner-managed agency group, is continuing to grow and can look back on a successful financial year for 2018/2019. The overall agency fee volume for the Serviceplan Group in its 48th financial year (1 July 2018 - 30 June 2019) was EUR 442 million. This represents an increase in sales of 7% compared to the previous year (2017/18: EUR 415 million), which makes it significantly more than the average growth for international agency networks. According to the 2018 AdAge rankings, in the last calendar year, large networks recorded average growth of around 2%.

The Serviceplan Group is also growing at an above-average rate compared to the agency sector in Germany. With a fee volume of EUR 337 million, sales increased by 4% (2017/18: EUR 324 million), which is significantly higher than the average increase in sales for German advertising and communications agencies, which was reported at 0.56% for 2018 in the GWA Spring Monitor.

Florian Haller, CEO of the Serviceplan Group: “We are extremely satisfied with the continued growth, which is well above the industry trend in Germany and globally, especially in view of the increasingly difficult environment we find ourselves in. Clients are exercising restraint; advertising budgets tend to be smaller and are partly integrated into building their own digital infrastructure. At the same time, there is a rapidly growing need for integrated communication solutions and agency offers tailored to the needs of individual customers – even across national borders. Here we can score points with our “House of Communication” model, which we are continuously expanding at our now 24 locations worldwide. We are also proud that we have once again received great international recognition for our creative achievements. For example, Serviceplan was named “Independent Agency of the Year” at the New York Festival last spring.”

New Customer Business, Digitalisation and Internationalisation as the Key Drivers of Growth

The continuous growth of the Serviceplan Group is the result of three main factors. Above all, a very active new customer business. In the past financial year, the Serviceplan Group was able to acquire or defend over 350 new customers and accounts. In Germany, these include HSE24, LinkedIn, Lufthansa, Calzedonia, Munich airport, Hans im Glück, Weber Grill and Airbnb.

Thanks to its international set-up with offices in the most important economic areas in Europe, Asia and North America, the Serviceplan Group is increasingly able to serve customers across several different locations and regions, responding to growing customer demand for integrated agency solutions across national borders. These clients include Metro AG, Vorwerk, Hilti and Hipp.

The Serviceplan Group’s digital business is an additional growth factor and now accounts for around 60% of turnover for the entire Group. Under the umbrella of the Plan.Net Group, the offer was also expanded last year, including the foundation of Plan.Net Neo, which specialises in the data-based integration of content and media. The creation of the new Plan.Net Cologne under the executive management of Willi Kaiser and Jens Krahe is also strengthening the offer.

After the successful first year of Plan.Net Innovation Studio at the headquarters in Munich, a second innovation hub was founded in the House of Communication in Hamburg at the start of the year.

The Serviceplan Group can also score points in the field of artificial intelligence and caused a stir with the AI-based Brand Investor Tool, which streamlines media planning in a completely new way, enabling intermedia planning on marketing goals and target groups with integrated success predictions. The Brand Investor is the result of a collaboration between Mediaplus and Plan.Net Business Intelligence. The topic of Artificial Creativity is also playing an increasingly important role in the field of AI.

International agency fees of the Serviceplan Group in the last financial year came to EUR 105 million. This is an increase of around 15% compared to the previous year (2017/18: EUR 91 million).

As part of its internationalisation, the Serviceplan Group has established itself as the first German-based global agency group in 35 countries, with 24 of its own locations and around 4,200 employees worldwide, as well as other partner locations. The agency model “House of Communication” plays a central role in this and is being continually expanded at all locations. For example, in the autumn of 2018, a new, modern “Maison de la Communication” was opened in Paris; in Spain, the offer was augmented by the media agency Alma Mediaplus.

For the Serviceplan Group head office in Munich, planning for the new headquarters began in the last financial year. It will be built in the up-and-coming “Werksviertel” quarter in the east of the city and will set new standards for the agency industry. The move is planned for 2022.

In addition to setting up its own locations, Serviceplan has also been in a strategic partnership with the independent agency groups Hakuhodo (Japan) and Unlimited (UK) since the beginning of 2019, giving it access to numerous other partner locations in Asia and the United Kingdom. The aim of the collaboration is to offer globally operating companies an integrated offer. The partners also want to benefit from each other in the areas of creation, media and data, as well as technology.

The Best Brands Awards, which have been successful in Germany for 16 years, continue to expand: in the spring of 2019, the brand award based on GfK studies took place for the first time in Russia. In addition to those held in Germany, local Best Brands Awards already exist in France, Belgium, Italy and China.

Awards & Rankings (selection):

New York Festivals Advertising Awards: The Serviceplan Group received 24 awards and was named “Independent Agency of the Year 2019”.

One Show: The Serviceplan Group won five gold awards, all for “Dot Mini” from Serviceplan Munich and Serviceplan Korea, two silver awards and two bronze awards.

Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity: Two silver Lions went to Serviceplan France, two bronze Lions were awarded to the German subsidiaries and two additional bronze Lions went to the teams from Serviceplan Munich and Serviceplan Korea, who jointly submitted work for the client Dot.

ADC for Germany: The agency group won two gold, three silver and 12 bronze awards.

ADC Global: The Serviceplan Group took home 12 prizes – four gold, two silver and six bronze cubes. All of the gold cubes were awarded for the campaign “Dot Mini. The First Smart Media Device for the Visually Impaired” from Serviceplan Munich and Serviceplan Korea.

D&AD Award: The Serviceplan Group won four silvers and two bronze awards and came in second place for the most successful design agency. The silver award-wining work included “Le Beck’s” and “Dot Mini”.

Max Awards: With the highest total score, Serviceplan Group was named "Agency of the Year". As the only German award, the creative ideas and the measurable success of dialogue campaigns are assessed on an equal footing at the Max Awards.

WARC Ranking: In the ranking of the world’s 100 most creative agencies, Serviceplan Munich ranks 23rd, while Serviceplan Korea ranks 28th. In the ranking of the most successful creative advertising campaigns of the year in Europe, the project “Making the world accessible. Dot by Dot” from Serviceplan Munich and Serviceplan Korea was awarded third place.

Les Agences de l’Année Awards: Serviceplan Paris was named “L’Agence de Publicité de l’Année”.

Media Awards:

German Media Award 2019 The Mediaplus Group was amongst those receiving the most awards throughout the evening. In total, Mediaplus has now won 40 awards at the German Media Award.

Festival of Media: In Rome, the Mediaplus Group was voted “Independent Agency of the Year” for the third time in a row.

RECMA Rankings: The Mediaplus Group is the only German media agency to receive the classification “Dominant” and the top grade A+ for special performance in key pitches. In the ranking of the largest German media agencies published in July 2019, Mediaplus made the leap from 6th to 4th place.

Congress of German Market Research: The “Media Equivalence Study: Video”, commissioned by Mediaplus and carried out by Facit Research, was awarded the Innovation Prize.

Digital Rankings:

Internet Agency Ranking 2019: The Plan.Net Group ranked second amongst Germany’s top-selling full-service digital agencies.

BVDW Ranking: Together with the Serviceplan Group, the Plan.Net Group ranks second in the creative ranking 2018 of the German Federal Association of Digital Economy, which takes into account the 20 most important competitions for digital creation. As one of the most successful projects, “Scars of Democracy” won several awards, including the Red Dot Award, the ADC Awards, the IF Design Award and others.

The Agency Groups


The Serviceplan agencies increased their sales last year by 4% to EUR 96 million.

Vincent Schmidlin Managing Partner of the Serviceplan agencies since the beginning of 2019, says: “The key drivers for our success last year were mainly the fully integrated accounts – in part with international extensions – which we implement in the Houses of Communication for larger and smaller clients. They will continue to be the focus of our efforts in the future. And of course, we are all very proud of the many creative projects and campaigns from our agencies that caused a sensation in the past financial year.”

In addition to the Serviceplan creative agencies, the specialist agencies in particular have developed well, especially Serviceplan PR & Content, Serviceplan Reputation and Serviceplan Health & Life. The new international agency brand Serviceplan Health, the first international healthcare agency network originating from Germany, was launched at the beginning of the new financial year.

A number of major campaigns from the Serviceplan creative agencies also caused a stir, such as the launch campaign of BMW’s THE 8, the Christmas advert for Penny and the testimonial campaign with Nena for the Penny brand Naturgut, various creative campaigns for long-term customers such as Sky and Beck’s, as well as the spectacularly staged wedding of Siri & Alexa for the Vienna Tourism Board this spring, “Lifeboat – The Experiment” for Seawatch, the BVG Women’s Ticket campaign on the occasion of Equal Pay Day or the Dot Translation Engine – after Dot Watch and Dot Mini, this is the latest development within the Dot Project, which makes text and digital content accessible to visually impaired people.

Mediaplus, Facit & Plan.Net

The rapidly changing digital business has had a particularly big impact on the financial year for Mediaplus (including Facit) and Plan.Net. Overall, the agency groups generated a fee volume of EUR 202 million, accounting for 46% of the Serviceplan Group’s sales. Compared to the previous year, total sales grew by 2.5%. During the past financial year, the holdings of Plan.Net and Mediaplus restructured agencies as part of a cross-media offering, so that the sales figures of both groups are not being identified individually this year.

For the Mediaplus Group – Germany’s leading independent media agency – the focus continues to be on expanding its international presence. This development was also reflected by Matthias Brüll assuming the newly created position as Managing Director Mediaplus International in May 2019. “We want to offer our clients the same qualitative set-up at each of our Mediaplus locations,” explains Brüll. “This offer includes a deep understanding of the consumer, as well as a targeted, data-driven and insights-based campaign. Media only is not enough and need to involve other disciplines, such as creation. This integrated approach, even countries, in the Houses of Communication is part of our DNA and make us unique.”

Andrea Malgara, Managing Partner of the Mediaplus Group, adds: "Through integration, we offer our clients more knowledge and a greater understanding than a stand-alone agency. This is one of the reasons why our customers stay with us for an above-average period of time. And we also look forward to further expanding our position as the leading independent media agency in Germany. In the current RECMA ranking for billings, we are now ranked in an impressive fourth place amongst media agencies in Germany.”

In addition to internationalisation, the focus on innovation continues to drive business for the Mediaplus Group. The “Media Equivalence Study: Video”, together with Google Germany and SevenOne Media, was the first market study of its kind to show how the effectiveness of video advertising depends on the medium, the positioning and the frequency of contact, and how the impact changes when video formats are being combined.

The institute responsible for the study was Facit Research, which was awarded the Innovation Prize of the German Market Research for the highly complex study design. Beginning of 2019, Facit Research strengthened its senior management team bringing in Dr Jens Cornelsen as new Managing Director and Dr Tanja Boga as new General Manager. Jens Cornelsen is responsible for the strategic direction of the institute and the internationalisation of the business. Tanja Boga is responsible for the development of innovative media and marketing research tools and the support of national and international clients.

Facit Digital achieved a milestone in July 2018 when Facit Digital Cologne added its expertise in market research and consulting to the House of Communication Cologne. Elmar Laube heads the location as Director Consulting.

The Plan.Net Group, one of the most successful digital agencies in Europe, continued to work intensively on expanding its personalisation and automation expertise in the past financial year. In addition to the successful development of the offer in the area of marketing technology, the agency Plan.Net NEO was founded in June 2018, specialising in the data-based integration of content and media for a maximum effective media customer experience.

In the summer of 2019, the newly founded agency Plan.Net Cologne was launched in Cologne. Under the executive management of Willi Kaiser and Jens Krahe, the agency complements the portfolio of the Cologne House of Communication with an agency specialising in Digital Brand Experience. Plan.Net UX also contributed towards the success of the Group in its first financial year. Together with implementing a number of user experience projects for Leica and DZ Bank, they gained a top creative mind in the form of Michael Kutschinski, who joined as the new Managing Director. In summer 2019, Kutschinski also took on the role as Chief Creative Officer of the Plan.Net Group.

In its first year, the Plan.Net Innovation Studio used modern approaches and ways of working to develop over 30 prototypes for digital products and services for customers in areas such as voice, AI and mixed reality. Due to high demand, another innovation hub was opened in the House of Communication in Hamburg at the beginning of the year.

Manfred Klaus, Managing Director and spokesman for the Plan.Net Group: “We are continuously driving forward the integration of data intelligence, creation, media and technology. Also we continued to further increase the scope of digital services offered by the entire Serviceplan Group. In doing so, we are extending our core business and making an essential contribution towards the future sustainability of the whole agency group.”


Serviceplan Solutions, the branch of the Serviceplan Group responsible for the implementation, internationalisation and digitalisation of brand communication, was able to generate agency fees of EUR 14 million in the past financial year, an increase of 17%. Since November 2018, Patrick Rohrbasser has been part of the team as the new Managing Director of the Serviceplan Solutions holding.


The Consulting Group, newly founded three years ago, was able to increase its sales last year by 50%, to EUR 6 million. This is thanks to various new customer acquisitions, including R+V, TUI Group, Vorwerk and Ferchau.

Saint Elmo’s

With sales of EUR 18 million in the financial year 18/19, the Saint Elmo’s Group contributed 4% to the total turnover of the Serviceplan Group. Their clients include Emmi, Sport2000, Hauck & Aufhäuser, Lloyd, Horsch and many others.

The Outlook for the New Financial Year 2019/2020 from CEO Florian Haller:

“We are cautiously optimistic for the new financial year 2019/20. The situation on the market remains difficult, which is why we are somewhat more conservative with our expectations for this year than in previous years. Currently, we are expecting a moderate growth of around 5%. A key focus for us continues to be the expansion of our Houses of Communication in all locations. With our new internationally established legal status as the Serviceplan Group SE & Co.KG we have also taken a major step in the process of internationalisation. And, of course, we are all looking forward to a big milestone in our agency history, the 50th anniversary of the Serviceplan Group, which we will celebrate in 2020.”

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Lee Sharrock

Corporate Communications International

+44 730 525 3020