As a new agency is signed Mark Furlong is ready for action, Karen Yates
Yes, Mark Furlong is the marketing director of Britain’s latest trans-
Channel phenomenon. But no, life hasn’t been one big round of jetset
junkets. In fact, for the past 18 months, it’s been an unending chain of
long days and nights, during which Furlong and his cohorts have been
cloistered in the offices of London and Continental Railways, preparing
the bid for the right to run Eurostar.
But there was no time to party when LCR eventually landed the prize of
running the UK passenger service in February. The main aims, Furlong
says, were to hit the ground running and to start operating the group’s
carefully planned marketing strategies as soon as possible.
However, the first major hurdle - the choice of an advertising agency -
is now behind them, with the bypassing of the incumbent, Young and
Rubicam, and the appointment of St Luke’s to an extra pounds 6 million
worth of business. This means that Furlong - who regularly organises
parties for his boss, Richard Branson - could soon be putting on his
best T-shirt for a modest celebration.
Over the next few weeks, as LCR settles into its Eurostar offices at
London’s Waterloo, Furlong will take up the reins of the group’s
marketing and communications effort. This includes everything from
control of sales and marketing teams to market research, advertising and
Furlong began his career at MDBW, a small through-the-line advertising
agency. After four years the glittering world of Virgin Atlantic
beckoned, and he was poached to set up and run the airline’s direct
marketing operation. From there, he moved up the ranks at Virgin until
he was seconded in 1994 to join the LCR consortium in which Virgin is
one of the eight participating companies.
Work is a family affair as his wife also works at Virgin as a promotions
manager, although his 11-month-old is not yet on Branson’s payroll. So
what is Furlong looking forward to, now the the bid and its aftermath is
over? There’s just the briefest of pauses: ‘I guess I’ll be seeing more
of my family.’