CAMPAIGN DIRECT AWARDS 1999: Direct Agency of the Year - Campaign Gold Award - FCA!

No-one said that winning Campaign’s Direct Agency of the Year meant that you had to have spent the past 12 months concentrating on direct mail. It’s no secret that there have been many changes in the industry over the past few years, and FCA! embodies many of the ’new’ principles that direct-marketing agencies are now taking on board, namely effective brand response through media-neutral ideas.

No-one said that winning Campaign’s Direct Agency of the Year meant

that you had to have spent the past 12 months concentrating on direct

mail. It’s no secret that there have been many changes in the industry

over the past few years, and FCA! embodies many of the ’new’ principles

that direct-marketing agencies are now taking on board, namely effective

brand response through media-neutral ideas.



It’s not only the cutting-edge creativity that makes FCA! stand out,

however. It has transcended the boutique label (while not shedding any

of its creative acumen) and attracted heavyweight clients who want

accountable business solutions.



It has been just as successful in cutting a dash with its above-the-line

work as it has for its direct marketing. Perhaps, of all the agencies

shortlisted for the title, FCA! may be the least happy to win, as it has

proved more than capable of scrapping with the big boys above the

line.



It has pounds 55 million in billings, according to MMS, and 30 per cent

of its output going on to television.



Having beaten Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, BMP DDB and Euro RSCG Wnek

Gosper to the Action 2000 brief, FCA! launched a serious push warning

the UK business community about the perils of ignoring the Millennium

Bug. Through this, the agency proved itself to dissenters who questioned

the COI’s decision to give such an important piece of business to

anything other than a traditional above-the-line agency.



The COI’s faith in the agency was reinforced by the award of the New

Deal for Lone Parents brief and it triumphed again over the above-the-

line agencies when it picked up the National Bingo Gaming Association’s

pounds 5 million brief to breathe a bit of life into the game.



FCA! has maintained its position as the agency to go to for effortless

integration, nifty media choices and a definite look askance for clients

who may have simply been happy with an obvious solution. It’s perhaps

surprising that one of the most outstanding through-the-line campaigns

of the past year is for the Wales Tourist Board.



At the helm, the combination of the creative abilities of Shaun McIlrath

and Ian Harding - the joint creative partners - and the business acumen

of the chairman, Chris Parry, has proved a potent one. And to further

boost the agency’s obvious new-business appeal, Samantha Smith, the

former marketing director of McDonald’s, Demon Internet and Burger King,

was drafted in as a fourth managing partner. With her impressive

marketing credentials, she is becoming increasingly the business front

of the agency and is emerging as Parry’s heir apparent.



There are three other agencies whose performance has stood out above

others. Lowe Direct can finally be forgiven for plundering GGT Direct

when it set up, having become one of the fastest-growing agencies of

recent years. Aside from account wins such as ONdigital, Saab UK and the

establishment of Lowe Plus to handle Prudential’s Egg, Lowe Direct

addressed the creativity issue by pulling in the highly rated Roddy Kerr

and Arthur Parshotam and increased its gross profit by 75 per cent to

pounds 6.3 million.



HPT Brand Response cannot be overlooked in a feature celebrating the

high spots of 1998, even though it was only in operation for two thirds

of the year. The heavyweight trio of Steve Harrison, Tim Patten and

Martin Troughton hit the ground running when it launched, pulling in

Royal & SunAlliance, Virgin Atlantic, Granada Sky Broadcasting and

Telstra for starters. It has now moved into larger premises and has

staff of 21.



Finally, WWAV Rapp Collins deserves a mention for its sheer

presence.



It dominates with a huge lead over its nearest rivals and continues to

grow, recording a pounds 71.4 million turnover in 1998.



Previous winners: Evans Hunt Scott (1997), Barraclough Hall Woolston

Gray (1996)



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