Take Thompson Total Branding from J. Walter Thompson, or 360-Degree
Branding from Ogilvy & Mather, or even 3-D from HHCL & Partners.
McCann-Erickson will manufacture a ’Brand Footprint’ for you at the drop
of a hat. More and more of the major networks are coming up with
integrated offerings which have a natty little name.
But advertising agencies are good at coming up with natty little phrases
that sound meaningful - it’s part of their job. The rise of the ’branded
branding device’ is regarded by many as little short of a con, but
others see big benefits for both the income stream of the agency and the
branding of a client’s products.
’These kind of offerings are fraught with bullshit, overclaim and
hypocrisy,’ one unenthusiastic industry source, says. And a quick scan
of the top-ten UK agencies shows he is not alone in his thinking.
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, BMP DDB, DMB&B and Publicis do not have a
branded integrated offering.
All of the above will add, however, that as part of highly developed
group structures, they can fulfil the integrated desires of any
Young & Rubicam has abandoned its ’Whole Egg’ integrated service because
it was decided that clients didn’t necessarily want all the services on
offer. Bert Meerstadt, president of Y&R Europe, says: ’We’re not trying
to force our integrated offering on to clients, but we have the services
if we need them.’
This feeling is shared by James Best, group chairman of BMP: ’There are
very few clients who want that kind of thing,’ he says. The DDB network
does have a branding tool, called ’Beyond DDB’, but as yet the UK agency
does not offer the scheme to its clients.
Best’s sentiments are echoed by Nigel Marsh, client services director at
DMB&B. He says: ’We do offer an integrated communications package if our
clients want it. But for us it’s not about giving it a fancy name, it’s
about doing it.’
There is, however, a key difference between the group offer and the
total branding devices. With the group offer, clients are presented with
a series of add-on options - ’if you like, our sister agency can handle
your public relations, and another can take care of your direct
marketing’. The main focus is on above the line, with other services
seen as fringe benefits.
With the branded integrated schemes, on the other hand, the client buys
into integrated thinking from the beginning. The communications strategy
will not necessarily pivot around above-the-line advertising. Robin
Azis, managing director of HHCL & Partners, says: ’I think it’s about a
media-neutral standing, while it used to be communications led by
advertising. But what is of true value is when - in one building - you
get integrated thinking.’
HHCL’s 3-D arguably represents integrated thinking in its purest
Azis says: ’We see ourselves as a communications agency, not an
integrated agency.’ At HHCL, the advertising specialists sit alongside
the direct marketing specialists, who are blended in with the public
relations experts, who mingle with the sales promotion people. Each
account team is composed of a mixture of specialists, depending on the
An example of the media-neutral approach is the work that the agency has
done for British Airways’ budget airline, Go. HHCL hired and briefed the
identity consultancy, Wolff Olins, which came up with the Go name.
At the launch, press releases included HHCL’s phone number for further
information. The agency came up with stunts such as a projection on
Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat when the airline launched its Edinburgh
service. And, of course, there has been the above-the-line
With JWT’s offer - Thompson Total Branding - the communications strategy
is devised and then the various projects can be assigned in-house or
outsourced. Every new client goes through a structured session called
’the day one’. These sessions are used to define the brand and to select
the best media to communicate the concept. Marco Rimini, director of
strategy and development at JWT, says: ’Clients are more likely to get a
competitive advantage over their rivals by taking a total
JWT Manchester used this scheme with Alton Towers to come up with the
name ’Oblivion’ for the park’s latest ride. The agency also produced
ads, made T-shirts and installed TVs over the queue to help build
Clients that have used these types of schemes speak highly of them.
Charles Gordon, marketing director of Hoover, employed O&M’s 360-Degree
Branding for the launch of the Hoover Vortex. ’The good thing is you get
the creative accelerator,’ he says. ’By the end of 360-Degree, you are
cooking on gas.
I’ve been exposed to good creative teams in seven different agencies
(within WPP). There are financial benefits too.’
Colonel Rory Clayton, head of planning, resources and marketing for the
Army Recruiting Group, is proud of the results of the partnership with
Saatchi & Saatchi. ’Since they came on board five years ago, they have
transformed army recruitment marketing. We achieve all our targets,’ he
Saatchis does not have a name for its integrated system, claiming that
clients get the integration no matter what (it famously dropped the word
’advertising’ from its name two years ago). Andrew Goulborn, the
agency’s communications director, says: ’We believe in genuine
integration. As soon as you start calling it a different thing you get
away from integration.’
Saatchis has a team - the Pyne Group - working on the Army account.
Headed by Jeremy Pyne, the group account director, it includes account
handlers, direct marketing strategists and a public relations team, who
all sit together in an open-plan environment.
But the biggest fan of all seems to be David Magliano, Go’s marketing
director. He says: ’The agency culture is not founded on ’the solution
is advertising, now what’s the problem’. Advertising is only one part of
a brand manifestation in a market and therefore you have to think about
it in its entirety.
’We ended up with an extremely consistent presentation of the brand.
The uniforms, boarding passes, phone message, direct mail - it’s all
consistent. That’s partly down to me and partly down to HHCL.’
All of these branded devices are relatively new to the advertising
market: 360-Degree is being introduced at the moment and McCanns’ Brand
Footprint was introduced five years ago.
Kevin Allen, executive vice-president and director of business
development Europe for McCanns, explains some of the reasons why. ’It’s
an income game to some extent,’ he admits. But he adds: ’Increasingly,
all of our clients have come to the realisation that their brand, if not
their most precious asset, is one of them.
’It’s also a response to the changing way in which people consume media.
No longer do people simply sit in front of the TV all evening. People
are consuming media in an extraordinary array of fashions.’
He’s right. Take Unilever’s decision in February to shift its global
advertising spend away from TV. With the world’s second-biggest
advertiser turning away from conventional above-the-line advertising,
the smartest agencies are polishing up their non-advertising