CLOSE-UP: CLIENT OF THE WEEK; Building a brand for Eurostar

As a new agency is signed Mark Furlong is ready for action, Karen Yates writes

As a new agency is signed Mark Furlong is ready for action, Karen Yates

writes



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

PR.



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.’



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