CAMPAIGN DIRECT: AGENCY OF THE YEAR - EVANS HUNT SCOTT. Strong new-business wins, increased profit and turnover, and creative nous have ensured that Evans Hunt Scott wins Campaign Direct Agency of the Year

Well done Evans Hunt Scott, Campaign Direct Agency of the Year 1997.

Well done Evans Hunt Scott, Campaign Direct Agency of the Year

1997.



The second recipient of this award has had an incredible year. Hefty new

account wins (Vodafone, BSkyB, Great Universal Stores, Scottish &

Newcastle, Tesco Personal Finance and Tesco Metro) have complemented

memorable campaigns - notably, the launch of Tesco Babyclub, which

achieved 78 per cent of its first-year target in eight weeks and went on

to recruit more than half the nation’s pregnant women. Then there was

the launch of BMW’s Z3 Roadster, in conjunction with WCRS, which roared

off down an unconventional media autobahn.



Awards were also in plentiful supply: a total of six golds including two

in the DMA/Royal Mail Awards, and a grand prix from the Marketing

Society. It’s no surprise that most of the accolades centred on EHS’s

effective work for Tesco.



Recognition and new clients would be worth very little if the bottom

line wasn’t also in shape. Turnover last year came to pounds 48 million,

a leap of almost 60 per cent on 1996. Staff numbers grew to more than

200, up a third on 1996 and reason enough to take over two more floors

in EHS’s Soho Square offices.



When you consider that 1996 turnover was itself 52 per cent higher than

in 1995, bringing profits of more than pounds 1 million, it becomes

clear that EHS is in excellent financial form. In fact, rumour has it

that it is now the most profitable agency in the Eurocom stable. Its

chief executive, Andrew Harris, who has kept a low profile to focus on

the finances, must take a bow.



The contrast with the EHS of a few years ago could not be more

striking.



In 1991, the party appeared to be over - for good. EHS was saved from

bankruptcy by the fellow below-the-line agency, WCRS/dma. The managing

director and co-founder, David Evans, was a casualty, leaving to form

his own less than spectacular agency and then quitting these shores for

Australia.



EHS’s darkest hour prompted a fair bit of schadenfreude from its

competitors.



Since its inception in 1986, backed with ad agency money (from BMP) and

boasting clients such as VAG and the BBC, EHS acted more like an

above-the-line agency. Before integration became a buzzword, EHS

promoted itself as a strategic agency, more concerned with brand

building below-the-line than with creating quick-fix campaigns.



This approach paid off surprisingly quickly. Within a few months, EHS

claimed to be the fastest-growing DM agency in the UK, boasting clients

like Polaroid, the Mortgage Corporation and Municipal Life. New recruits

who could broaden the agency’s offering were soon added. John Shaw was

brought in to beef up the planning side, Sally Martin added to the DM

skills, Andy Carolan brought a client’s perspective to the party and

Martin Daine added telemarketing know-how. Under Evans’ leadership, hard

work was matched by equally hard play. Brian Sassoon, now a board

planner at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, joined EHS soon after it started

up. ’It was like an extension of university for some of the younger

recruits. They were producing mould-breaking work way ahead of its time,

but still having a lot of fun,’ he says.



When things turned sour, what could have been a classic 80s boom to bust

was prevented by the astute vision of EHS’s two remaining founders -

Terry Hunt and Ken Scott. As joint creative directors, they had left the

managing to Evans. After falling out with him and then losing two more

senior people, the duo recruited Jon Ingall as managing director. A dour

Northerner, Ingall was a big contrast to the fun-loving Evans, and there

were doubts about his ability to control such a quirky corporate

culture, but he rapidly got EHS back on its feet. Hunt’s huge industry

reputation as a creative was exploited to the hilt and a number of

serious accounts arrived.



One of them, BMW, credits EHS with a change in its below-the-line

strategy.



According to the customer manager, Richard Downes: ’Its stress on

creativity and ability to think more broadly than a single campaign

convinced us that direct marketing had a lot to offer.’



Another client, British Gas Services, whose relationship dates back

about four years, confirms this view. ’Of the 20 or so agencies I’ve

worked with above and below the line,’ says the marketing services

manager, Graham Hardy, ’EHS ranks in the top two. Its attention to

detail and willingness to question client strategy is impressive.’



Similarly positive noises can be heard from other EHS clients such as

Microsoft, Royal Sun Alliance, Prudential Bank, Legal & General, United

Distillers and the Labour Party, whose leader personally thanked EHS for

its general election fundraising campaigns.



Of course, 1997 wasn’t all triumph for EHS. The agency suffered the loss

of Intel and failed to win the Rover loyalty pitch.There was also the

surprise resignation of the creative director, Ken Muir. But these blips

were overshadowed by EHS’s new-found confidence.



Plaudits for 1997 also go to Rapier for its Cable & Wireless win; to

Craik Jones for winning the Rover loyalty pitch and for its acquisition

by AMV; to FCA! for the continued creative sparkle evident in its

campaigns (not forgetting its ambitious merger with Kelly Weedon Shute);

and to WWAV Rapp Collins for increased income and profits, despite the

loss of the Heinz At Home account.



But EHS was the star of 1997. With its industry-leading planning

department and investments in specialist direct response and Internet

companies (All Response Media and Zinc), the agency looks set for a more

than rosy future.



Last year’s winner: Barraclough Hall Woolston Gray.



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