By Emma Barns, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 29 July 2005 12:00AM
The British Airways longlist included two surprises. Sitting alongside giant network agencies such as JWT and the micro-networks of the Bartle Bogle Hegarty variety, were the local shops VCCP and Clemmow Hornby Inge.
Both have some experience of handling international business: VCCP handles various pan-European and global clients including FedEx, Dyson and O2 from its London office; similarly, CHI services the estimated £25 million European Carphone Warehouse business from its London hub and the European Toyota Aygo account. But could a hotshop, based in one market, really have provided the best service for a big multinational client such as BA?
Of course, Adrian Coleman, a partner at VCCP, seems to think so. "It's not difficult to service a client that operates in several markets. Good ideas do travel. One ad, created by a central hub, can work across different countries with some local tailoring," he says.
And Greg Delaney, the chairman of Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners, agrees. He adds that the local agency model is more cost-efficient for clients. "The rules have changed. The technology now means that we do not have to have bricks-and-mortar operations everywhere. This is more efficient and effective," he says.
But one recurring problem is that of distribution - a local agency might well come up with the best creative but it doesn't have the systems on the ground to execute it.
There do seem to be ways for agencies to get around this, though. Delaney says tapping into media networks is an effective way of getting a campaign out in multiple markets without having to have a creative presence in them. There are also examples of clients appointing a local hotshop for the creative idea and then a network to implement it - Vodafone used Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam alongside its core agency JWT.
Delaney also points to trans-creation services such as World Writers and Word Gym that provide access to local creatives in markets around the world. They oversee the adaptation of a central idea for different audiences and Delaney argues that using them is better than being constrained to your network agencies. "There is lots of rivalry between network offices. An independent is more compliant because it is employed to work with us," he says.
Nick Hurrell, the chairman of M&C Saatchi Europe, objects to this. He says: "In certain major markets, if campaigns just arrive in an envelope, then local clients are left unsatisfied and hungry. There are almost always strategic markets where you just need to be where the client is."
This becomes more critical depending on the size and complexity of the client. A local agency may be able to service a client present in several markets but the model is unlikely to work with a client that requires integrated communications across 30 or 40 countries.
That is not to say the traditional 200-agency network is the only answer.
Micro-networks occupy the middle ground. They try to combine the creative excellence found in local agencies with a tactically geographical, global reach through offices in several choice locations.
BA decided on this occasion that VCCP and CHI were just too small and shortlisted DDB, BBH, JWT and M&C Saatchi. It will take a bold client to make the leap of faith.
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GLOBAL CLIENT - David Wheldon, global director of brand and customer experience, Vodafone
"If the question is whether local agencies can do global advertising, then with a proper brief and an open mind, the answer is yes. If we're talking about whether a local agency can service a global client, it becomes extremely difficult. A local agency is staffed to deal with local issues and while it understands the issues in Soho, would it be so competent in Naples?
"We have a gigantic amount of work that needs to be done locally and JWT does that for us. We also have to keep creative on its toes, which is why we have a lead creative agency in Bartle Bogle Hegarty."
HOTSHOP PARTNER - Adrian Coleman, partner, VCCP
"If you have a client that operates in seven or eight markets, then a local agency is perfectly capable of handling it. It just relies on a core central team and a strong client who can enforce a consistent brand message across these areas. Good ideas do travel. People are not all that different in Germany, for example. A central idea just needs a bit of local tailoring and you can do that from a central strategic and creative hub.
"When the client is in 25 or 30 countries, that's when you need a network. You need people on the ground to police quality and creativity."
MATCHMAKER - Suki Thompson, managing partner, Haystack Group
"Global clients can use a different model from the traditional network one. Look at the Unilever Persil pitch, where Bartle Bogle Hegarty is pitching alongside JWT and Ogilvy & Mather.
"Clients such as BA look at local agencies because of their creative. But for a local agency to run BA, it would have to link up with a network to distribute this creative to its various markets.
"For bigger clients, such as HSBC, it's not just about advertising. It needs an integrated communications approach, as well as an agency presence on the ground in its different markets. This can only be got through a network and there's no other way round this."
NETWORK CHIEF - Nick Hurrell, chairman, M&C Saatchi Europe
"There is no doubt that global clients want both the highest levels of creativity and a global grip on their business. The local agency hotshop delivers one but not the other. The 100-office networks often deliver one but not the other.
"Our solution is brutally simple - we have a global network of 14 offices which will expand to around 20 offices by next year. Sitting around one big table, we can deliver an insightful global idea and we can deliver global grip.
"Where our clients require broader coverage we have also created successful partnerships, with Publicis for example, which increase our reach. This combination delivers the best of all worlds."
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk