Set a highly ambitious target by Daewoo’s Korean manufacturer,
Patrick Farrell was at the centre of the car-maker’s unique
Is it fair to single out any one individual in a collective enterprise
like direct marketing? After all, successful direct marketing depends
less on individual flair than advertising, where a flash of inspiration
can turn muck into brass.
But life isn’t fair, and individuals do win prizes. Step forward,
Patrick Farrell (top left), marketing director of Daewoo Cars and the
first Campaign Direct Client of the Year.
The initial idea, that of presenting Daewoo as a customer-focused car
manufacturer, came from Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters’ initial pitch
presentation in August 1994. Farrell, the marketing director, picked up
the idea and ran with it.
At a weekend brainstorming session Farrell, Gary Duckworth (planning
director), and the other Daewoo management (none professional marketers)
explored two options: starting from a blank piece of paper and focusing
on customers, or the traditional dealer-based launch. For two months
parallel business plans were developed, before the customer route
The decision to focus on service rather than product was partly forced
by the quality of the cars themselves. Based on old Vauxhall Astra and
Cavalier designs, Daewoo’s Nexias and Esperos were reliable, but
Shots of the cars racing along roads were never on the agenda.
From the starting point of customer focus, the other elements fell into
place. What do consumers want? Why not ask them - hence the launch
advertising appealing for guinea-pig drivers. What do consumers hate?
Dealers - so do without them. But how do we sell the cars? Easy - we’ll
build our own show rooms. Hidden costs such as delivery charges? Bin
Making the customer-focused strat-egy work required Farrell’s constant
attention. It was clear that consumers distrusted commission-hungry
To counter this, Daewoo sales staff were not paid on commission. And
electronic information systems were installed in showrooms, allowing
customers to ’design’ their cars without being badgered.
Pre-launch ads billed Daewoo as ’the biggest car company you’ve never
heard of’. Launch advertising using DRTV built a 200,000-strong database
from scratch by offering 200 test drives for a year. About 40,000 people
visited showrooms. A 60 per cent response rate to follow-up mailings
established a range of customer likes and dislikes.
In January 1996, the next phase of the advertising showed people, and
cars, crashing into walls like crash-test dummies. It sought the 100
consumers who had suffered at the hands of competitor dealers and
generated 125,000 phone calls. From these a further database of 51,000
Sitting at the centre of this whole process was 48-year-old Farrell. On
first meeting, he is affable, pleasantly self-deprecating. In fact, he
could probably pass himself off as the manager of a provincial town
Agency collaborators describe a first-rate mind, equally at home with
pushing broad creative concepts as with worrying about the smallest
operational detail. His ’big picture’ side kicks in at early stages of
campaigns, with the mastery of detail coming into play later.
He accepts strong opinions from colleagues and subordinates with
Flashes of temper do occur, but very rarely. His demeanour varies
between the iron hand in the velvet glove, and the iron hand in the iron
Twenty years riding the shifting fortunes and incarnations of the Rover
Group have turned Farrell into a corporate survivor. At Rover he was a
small cog in a giant wheel, at Daewoo the opposite. The sudden change
may account for some of the quirks in his character.
He’s a life-long sailor, and managed to propel the Duckworth Finn team
into third place when he skippered its entry in the annual agency yacht
race. Force nine winds, and an inexperienced crew, reduced Farrell,
according to one crew member, to ’a foul-mouthed bastard’.
His other hobby, rebuilding Austin Sevens, is associated more with
retired engineers than marketing directors. But in Farrell it indicates
an enthusiasm for cars in all their forms. He drives, incidentally, a
top of the range Daewoo, the Espero 2.0 CDXi.
Has Daewoo, and by implication Farrell, succeeded? According to the Top
Gear presenter, Quentin Willson, Daewoo represents ’a higher standard by
which all other car manufacturers will be judged’. In terms of sales,
the launch lays claim to be the most successful ever in the UK. In April
1995, Daewoo had 0.68 per cent of the market, in December 0.91 per cent,
a year later 1.06 per cent. That represents sales of 21,438 units. The
seemingly ambitious target, set in 1994 by corporation chairman,
Woo-Choong Kim, was 1 per cent of the UK market by the end of 1997.
Farrell has pulled it off.
THE FARRELL FILE
1994: Marketing director, Daewoo Cars
1993-94: Director, European marketing, Rover Group Markets
1991-93: Marketing director, Rover Germany
1988-91: Director of advertising and research, Rover Cars
1984-88: Market research manager, Austin Rover
1981-84: Manager, current products research, Austin Rover
1980-81: Advertising executive, British Leyland
1978-80: Market planning manager, Central Europe, British Leyland
1975-78: Product and market planning supervisor, Northern Europe,
British Leyland International
1973-75: Short-term sales planning, Austin Morris UK.