CAMPAIGN DIRECT AWARDS: AGENCY OF THE YEAR - BARRACLOUGH HALL WOOLSTON GRAY

Impressive growth, a sparkling new-business record and strong creative work helped AMV-owned Barraclough Hall win Campaign Direct Agency of the Year.

Impressive growth, a sparkling new-business record and strong

creative work helped AMV-owned Barraclough Hall win Campaign Direct

Agency of the Year.



Congratulations to Barraclough Hall Woolston Gray for winning the first

Campaign Direct Agency of the Year award.



Since its inception in 1991, Barraclough Hall has grown from a tiny

breakaway shop to a top-ten direct marketing agency. Its growth was

fuelled by interest from the Abbott Mead Vickers group, which ended its

three-year search for a direct marketing partner by taking a stake in

the fledgling Barraclough Hall in 1991 - just two months after its

launch - and completed the acquisition in 1995.



Early successes apart, 1996 will be remembered as outstanding for the

Hammersmith-based Barraclough Hall. A new-business record totalling

pounds 20 million was coupled with negligible client losses and

impressive leaps in turnover, profitability and staffing levels. Add the

agency’s continued adherence to stringent creative standards and its

commitment to integrated media solutions and you have a winning set of

credentials.



Honourable mentions must also go to the gallant runners-up, Ogilvy and

Mather Direct and Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel.



Last year, O&M Direct moved further towards its goal of creating

strategic business partnerships with its clients and building brands on

a European and global basis; the approach is typically applied to the

handling of the global IBM business and is being used on the rebranding

campaign for Disneyland Paris.



However, events of 1996 at O&M Direct were played out against a bumpy

background of top-level changes which saw David Miller replaced by Nigel

Howlett as chairman, Richard Bainbridge promoted to managing director

and the creative director, Steve Harrison, elevated to a European role.

Harrison continued to hone the O&M Direct creative product, helping the

agency land an impressive 27 awards.



Being part of the O&M Group is an asset for the agency - a number of

last year’s wins were group referrals - but it has nevertheless managed

to carve out a clear proposition in a competitive sector.



The privately owned Craik Jones also did well in the creative arena,

netting a total of 13 awards including four firsts at the 1996 Direct

Marketing Awards. Last year it celebrated its fifth birthday and its

income grew by 41 per cent. It added five new clients and lost one, BT,

which it resigned to take on Mercury.



The fact that Craik Jones offers its staff one of the most generous

profit-related schemes in the business also makes it one of the shops

where people want to work. This is a grown-up agency where quality of

life is as important as financial results.



There are other direct marketing agencies, too numerous to mention here,

that deserve credit in an overview of the market. Brann opened a London

office and joined Manning Gottlieb Media to forge the media specialist,

MGM Brann, while Evans Hunt Scott deserves praise for its pioneering

work on the Tesco Clubcard, which achieved 70 per cent of the first

year’s target in three months.



However, it is the sheer calibre of Barraclough Hall’s year that swung

our decision. Growth and new-business success hit new heights, while

strategic and creative thinking continued to offer clients innovative

solutions.



Last year, the agency’s phenomenal new-business haul included wins for

Prudential, Cow and Gate, Tambrands, Reader’s Digest and Alamo Rent A

Car. The agency now has one of the broadest client bases in its sector,

handling financial (Barclaycard), automotive (Volkswagen), fmcg (Lever

Brothers), charity (Red Cross) and leisure accounts (Thomas Cook) with

equal ease. The only loss was Singapore Airlines and that was because of

a conflict.



Meanwhile, Barraclough Hall’s new-business record was matched by an

impressive financial performance which saw turnover increase from pounds

14.5 million in 1995 to pounds 24.7 million last year. Profits hit

pounds 1 million in 1995 and were, according to the agency, maintained

in 1996.



Barraclough Hall also enjoys the knowledge that its parent buys

first-rate companies while giving satellite companies space to grow. In

this respect, Barraclough Hall must be commended for its vision and

investment in other areas: in 1995, for example, it co-founded the media

dependant, Prager and Partners, and clients reaped the benefits in

1996.



Barraclough Hall enjoys a strong reputation for creative work and last

year restructured its creative department, increasing the count from

seven to 15 teams. But the fact that it does not feature in our creative

league is curious. Some will point out that the agency handles a number

of reticent clients such as Lever, but the fact that Barraclough Hall

only joined the Direct Marketing Association at the end of last year may

also have some bearing.



This is an agency where staff work and play to their limits. Its five

founders - Simon Hall, chief executive; Chris Barraclough and Duncan

Gray, executive creative directors; Ellen Woolston; managing director,

and Shona Forster, planning head - are now reaping the rewards of six

years’ hard graft.



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