Adweek’s 25 Most Popular Stories About Agencies in 2018

It was a year of controversy, consternation and reinvention

In 2018, Martin Sorrell was pressured out of his role as CEO of advertising giant WPP, then returned at the head of a new industry power player: S4 Capital. Getty Images
Headshot of David Griner

It’s fair to say 2018 was not the smoothest year for ad agencies, which faced existential threats and staffing controversies.

Even agencies that avoided their own public drama faced the potential of getting swept up in high-profile issues like the resignation of Papa John’s founder John Schnatter amid accusations of racist comments (reportedly made during a call with an agency).

No ad industry leader was too powerful to avoid fallout from their personal actions or business decisions. Even Martin Sorrell, long considered the most powerful person in advertising, had to surrender his role as CEO of the massive holding company he founded, WPP, amid scorching pressure from his own board following allegations of personal misconduct. But true to 2018’s themes of unpredictability and rapid change, he soon returned at the head of S4 Capital, a new holding company that promptly proved its potential by snatching up production house MediaMonks.

But even in an ominous and relentlessly challenging year, Adweek’s most-read agency stories of 2018 also highlight that creativity and bold ideas can still shine.

Here are Adweek’s most popular articles from our Agencies team in 2018:

No. 25: Why the Traditional Agency Model Is Struggling to Keep Up With Demand

No. 24: SapientRazorfish Lays Off 100 in U.S. as Publicis Prepares to Retire the Brand, Sources Say

No. 23: Papa John’s Founder Says Ad Agency ‘Pressured’ Him Into Using the N-Word

No. 22: If You Click on the Idiotic Offer in Snickers’ New Banner Ad, the Brand Asks If You’re OK

No. 21: 16 Years After Breaking Our Hearts, Ikea Finally Tells an Abandoned Lamp’s Full Story

No. 20: What Is Musicbed and Why Did It Create Hypertargeted Out-of-Home Posters Calling Out Creatives?

No. 19: Droga5 Fires CCO Ted Royer, Citing Need for ‘a Safe and Inclusive Environment’

No. 18: 2 Former Nike Executives Open Their Own Shop to Serve Disruptive Brands

No. 17: Droga5 Has Placed CCO Ted Royer on Leave and Hired a Firm to Investigate Him

No. 16: WPP to Cut 3,500 Jobs, Refocus on Creative and Data With No More Agency Mergers

No. 15: TBWA Global CMO Kyla Jacobs Departs Company Following HR Complaints

No. 14: This Copywriter Scored Her First Job by Showing Up at McCann Bristol Dressed as Fearless Girl

No. 13: Canadian Eatery Puts Tiny Chairs Around the Little ‘Table’ That Comes Inside Pizza Boxes

No. 12: How a Copywriter’s Amazing Tribute to Sprite Got Him Hired at W+K

No. 11: Netflix’s Shocking Public Activation for Altered Carbon Was the Year’s Most Innovative Media Plan

No. 10: Maternity Leave Is No Vacation, So One Agency Created Hilarious Resort-Themed Products for New Moms

No. 9: Martin Sorrell’s New Business Plan: Cut Creative Agencies Out of the Loop Altogether

No. 8: 10 Examples of Women’s Portrayal in Ads, From the Good to the Bad to the Completely Sexist

No. 7: WPP Will Merge J. Walter Thompson With Wunderman to Form Wunderman Thompson

No. 6: Ogilvy Fires Worldwide CCO Tham Khai Meng After Internal Investigation

No. 5: Jack in the Box Just Launched One of the Most Tone-Deaf Ads of the #MeToo Era

No. 4: WPP CEO Martin Sorrell Steps Down Abruptly After 33 Years

No. 3: Ogilvy Rebrands Itself After 70 Years With New Visual Identity, Logo and Organizational Design

No. 2: Papa John’s Founder Creates Website Begging Employees to Help Save ‘Our Life’s Work’

No. 1: It’s the End of Agencies As We Know It. Here’s Where We Go Next

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."