Munich, 9. August 2012 — Even when they were looking ahead to 2012, Germany's advertising agencies were eyeing the future with considerably more optimism than most of the other players in the economy. According to GWA (the German association of advertising agencies), advertising and communications agencies were expecting sales to increase by 5.4 per cent. As usual, their forecast was above the projected growth figure for the gross national product. The Serviceplan Group once again achieved impressively strong growth, well above the industry average, as demonstrated by the figures released today for its 41st financial year – which began on 1 July 2011 and ended on 30 June 2012. The balance sheet shows double-digit growth of 18.6 per cent. The Group recorded a gross income (fees and commissions) of EUR 203 million (2010/2011: EUR 171 million). Billings (volume of advertising budgets managed, excluding media purchasing) rose to EUR 1.35 billion (2010/2011: EUR 1.14 billion), once again passing the billion mark. Staffing levels were also further increased over the past financial year: the agency currently has 1,360 employees – 16 per cent more than the 1,170 employees on its books in the previous year. Sales per head were recorded at EUR 149,000, up by two per cent on the previous year (2010/2011: EUR 146,000).
These results once again put Serviceplan Group at the top of the rankings of owner-managed agencies, with three key factors contributing to its success: "We are delighted that our growth and internationalisation strategy is continuing to bear fruit. It has made past financial year another extremely successful one for us. This is, of course, once again partly due to the tremendous efficiency of our integrated agency model in our Houses of Communication in Munich, Hamburg and Berlin, which have been instrumental in achieving the outstanding results obtained in our core market, Germany. We have experienced a particularly significant growth spurt in our activities abroad in the past year with our existing Houses of Communication and the two new ones in Vienna and Milan. Our own agencies and partner agencies outside Germany already make up just under ten per cent of our total sales and demand from clients for international services is steadily rising. And let's not forget that the theme of innovation continues to play a key role in the success of our Group," said Florian Haller, Chief Executive Officer.
Results in detail
All divisions within the agency group recorded above-average growth rates. The agencies managed under the Serviceplan brand – integrated campaigns and the special disciplines of merchandising, dialogue, sponsoring and events and PR – remain the main contributors to the Group's total sales at 32 per cent. However, sales fell by 10 per cent to a fee volume of EUR 65 million. This is due to the establishment of the spin-off company Serviceplan Solutions, which was still part of the Serviceplan Group last year. In the first year following its launch, this new and independently operating pillar has already generated sales of EUR 14 million, which accounts for seven per cent of the Group's total sales. The second most significant pillar is the agency group for digital communication under the Plan.Net brand and it is also the second-largest digital agency in Germany. It grew by 40 per cent and contributed EUR 61 million, or 29 per cent, to the Group's total sales. The media agency managed under the Mediaplus brand, which contributed almost a quarter (22 per cent) to the Group's total sales, increased its sales by nine per cent to EUR 45 million. The two independently operating brands Facit – the market research subsidiary of the Serviceplan Group – and the agency group Saint Elmo's also made gains within the Serviceplan Group. Together they posted growth of 29 per cent, representing 9 per cent – and thus EUR 18 million – of the Serviceplan Group's total sales.
The impressive growth was due for the most part to the expansion of existing client business and the acquisition of a number of new clients and new accounts across all the various brands, agencies and international locations of the Serviceplan Group – including, for example, the accounts of ADAC, BMW, Campari, Continental, Danone, Deutsche Bahn, Europcar, KFC, Lufthansa, Media Markt, Novartis, Rodenstock, Siemens, Schöffel, s.Oliver and Vedes. Another crucial factor for this positive performance was the successful establishment of new agency services in areas such as Sponsoring [&] Events, Corporate Communications and Online Dialogue, as well as the intensive development of special disciplines at the offices in Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, Zurich and Milan. This last financial year saw, for example, the successful launch of the 'House of Communication' agency model, with a fully integrated range of services, in Vienna and Milan. With its own sites, associations and partnerships, Serviceplan can now offer services to its clients in all the key economic regions of the world.
Serviceplan emerges as the most successful German agency at Cannes
At the 59th International Advertising Festival in Cannes, the Serviceplan Group was presented with a grand total of 15 'Lion' awards – as well as winning seven gold, four silver and three bronze awards, the agency group also claimed the 'Grand Prix' in the Design category. This makes Serviceplan the most successful German agency in 2012. What's more, Serviceplan was also named 'Direct Agency of the Year'. All in all, this marks a milestone in the history of the agency group, from its humble beginnings in 1970 to its status as one of Europe's leading independent agencies today. Alexander Schill, CCO of the Serviceplan Group, believes this is a result to be proud of: "There were a great many high-calibre nominations to choose from this year. So many wonderful creative ideas – I am therefore all the more delighted that we have been so incredibly successful. This was something I had not anticipated, but it shows that course we have been following over the past few years – our 'creative offensive' with the aim of establishing ourselves as one of the most creative agencies in the world – is the right one and that it is paying off." Serviceplan also did extremely well again in the ADC awards, where, having already achieved success in the ADC Germany prizes (three golds, four silvers and six bronzes), it received three more gold trophies in the ADC of Europe awards. Both in Cannes and at the ADC awards, it was the solar-powered annual report produced for Austria Solar which received the most recognition. Serviceplan has now made it into the global creative rankings 'The Big Won' for the first time, entering in ninth place. Alexander Schill, Managing Director and Creative Director of the Serviceplan Group, also features in the rankings, having been voted the best CCO in Germany and the third best in the world. Serviceplan even managed to claim second place in the sub-ranking 'Top agencies for alternative/innovative campaigns'. Furthermore, Alex Schill will also be leading the judging panel at the Loerie Awards in Cape Town in autumn 2012.
Another important accolade was awarded in 2012 to Florian Haller, who was honoured for the first time by the trade magazine of Germany's most widely read weekly communications and media publication 'Werben [&] Verkaufen'. The jury voted Florian the most creative and innovative manager in the communications industry, and the magazine's editorial team ranked him at the top of the list of the 100 most important managers in advertising, media and marketing for 2012.
It has also been another winning year for Mediaplus, which claimed three prizes overall at the German Media Awards 2012, once again receiving the most awards of any agency. At the presentation ceremony in March, the Serviceplan Group's media agency once again defended its title as the most successful agency in the history of the media industry's most prestigious awards, achieving success in the 'Out of Home', 'Online/Mobile/Social Media' and 'Cinema' categories.
Serviceplan Group loves talent!
It is a case of love not war for the Serviceplan Group when it comes to recruiting new talent: with the 'Love for talents' initiative, a joint project launched by the Serviceplan Group and Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, it aims to help companies enhance their attractiveness as employers. Looking after the welfare of employees is also, as ever, one of the most important functions within the Serviceplan Group. To boost the appeal of its employer brand even further, Serviceplan is now offering employees the chance to enrol on a Masters degree programme, which they can study for alongside their usual work, in cooperation with the Steinbeis University Berlin. This offer is the first of its kind in the communications industry.
A technical innovation – the 'media wall' – has now been introduced, enabling all national and international outputs of the Serviceplan Group to be kept up to date with a constant stream of information on the various sites, current campaigns, job opportunities and news from the Group. The media walls have been installed in the cafeterias on each site. Florian Haller: "As Europe's largest owner-managed agency group, we have a duty to our employees and our clients to hone our skills to the highest level and to provide information. That is why we have a comprehensive and top-quality human resource management team in Munich, Hamburg and Berlin".
Two new Houses of Communication set up, new Solutions pillar established, Mediaplus reorganised
Two grand openings were on the agenda for the last financial year: after launching a Viennese branch in autumn 2011, the Serviceplan Group opened another House of Communication, the fifth overall, in Milan in May 2012. This new premises is not just intended to accommodate Plan.Net Italia – the digital agency's office has been in operation since autumn 2011 – but also Serviceplan Italia. Experts in the traditional fields of communication will therefore be working alongside the online specialists at the 'Casa della Comunicazione'. At the House of Communication in Vienna, all the services offered by the creative agency Serviceplan Austria have also been brought together under one roof. This gives the Serviceplan Group a strategically important foothold in the Austrian and Central and Eastern European markets. André Felker and Thomas Spazierer are the two new Managing Directors of Serviceplan Austria – having previously managed 'Sieben', one of the most successful new business ventures of recent years.
Serviceplan Solutions has been providing an important service for the company as a fourth pillar since it was established, with its own holding company, in May 2012. Its role is particular important as, in the face of globalisation and the increasingly international scope of many companies, implementing communications schemes is becoming ever more challenging. Serviceplan Solutions is managed by Florian Paul, a renowned expert in the internationalisation and digitisation of brand communications.
There is also news to report from the Mediaplus Group, which underwent a reorganisation in June 2012. Since Thilo Krämer joined Mediaplus as Managing Director at the Hamburg site, the management team is once again complete. Andrea Malgara has been working for the Mediaplus Group's holding company since autumn 2011 and is also responsible for matters relating to internationalisation, research, business development and new business in the parent holding company of the agency group. The spokesman for the Executive Management, and also a member of the management team, is Volker Helm, who joined the Group in January 2012.
The Mediaplus Group also has some news to report. With the arrival in June 2012 of Thilo Krämer as Managing Director of Mediaplus in Hamburg, the Mediaplus Group management team is now up to its full complement again. Andrea Malgara has been looking after purchasing and research for the Mediaplus Group holding company since autumn 2011. Volker Helm, who since January has been acting as spokesperson for Mediaplus Group management, is in charge of the business development, internationalisation and new business areas.
Important steps towards internationalisation: developing the Asian and Latin American markets
The Asian economic region is booming and, for many companies and brands, it represents a high-growth market with great future potential. In order to be able to offer international clients a full range of communication services in these countries too, the Serviceplan Group continued to steadily pursue its internationalisation strategy over the course of the last financial year. In December 2011 it acquired a 25.1 per cent stake in the agency Liquid Campaign, which has a presence in Russia, India, China and Korea. This gives Germany's largest owner-managed agency the opportunity to develop the markets across the entire Asian region, so it will be represented in all the key economic centres in future. The Group has been tapping into the Spanish and Latin American markets since May 2012 through its cooperation with Nostrum. Nostrum, Spain's top communications agency, has 20 agencies in Portugal, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Mexico, Panama, Peru and the USA as well as its head office in Europe, which enables it to develop these equally important growth markets on behalf of the Service Group. To provide a comprehensive range of communication services to international clients in these countries, the Serviceplan Group has initially entered into a strategic alliance with its new cooperation partner. "Important steps have been taken. With our two partners, Liquid Campaign and Nostrum, we are well on the way to implementing our internationalisation strategy successfully and consistently," said Florian Haller.
Two market-relevant studies: sustainability and sponsorship
For the second year, the Serviceplan Group has produced the 'Sustainability Image Score', which rates the corporate sustainability efforts of various companies from the point of view of the consumer. HiPP, Alete, BMW, Miele, Bärenmarke, Landliebe, Audi, Otto, Mercedes Benz and dm are the ten companies currently considered to be the most sustainable according to German consumers. This is the result of this year's representative sustainability study of more than 7,600 participants, carried out by Facit Research on behalf of the Serviceplan Group. "The study has already become established in the market in just its second year, and it is an important tool for companies reviewing their communications in terms of sustainability," explains Florian Haller.
Making its debut appearance this year was Germany's first sponsorship index, which was produced for the first time in 2012 by Facit Research on behalf of Serviceplan Sponsoring [&] Events and Sky Media Network. It has been a complete success. Adidas, Audi, O2, Puma, Lufthansa, Mercedes-Benz, Jack Wolfskin, Volkswagen, Coca-Cola and Heineken – these are the top ten companies among the 51 largest sponsors in Germany, ranked according to which of them, from the point of view of German consumers, had the most effective sponsorship activities in 2012. The survey also revealed that sponsorship is highly regarded from a social perspective, and plays a significant role in enhancing the visibility of a brand in the communication mix.
In spite of the euro crisis, Florian Haller is optimistic about the next financial year and is expecting the Group to continue growing at a steady rate: "We can look back on a successful and exciting financial year, during which we put in place some important foundations for our internationalisation strategy". The CEO of the Serviceplan Group elaborates further: "There is one particular highlight I am already looking forward to in the coming year. We – along with our partners – will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of our best brands ranking scheme on 6 February 2013 – with plenty of surprises".