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
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
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
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
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
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.