Winning the coveted title of Campaign’s Direct Agency of the Year three times consecutively shows there is no stopping the powerhouse OgilvyOne.
The agency not only keeps impressing us but also the rest of the industry, making it – annoyingly, for its competitors – a worthy winner of the accolade yet again. OgilvyOne managed to pip its closest rival, Lida, to the title, leaving the latter in a frustrated close second once again.
Making the decision to crown OgilvyOne the winner this year was relatively straightforward – though, as you can imagine, we would have welcomed the change to break with recent tradition. While Lida presented a much-improved creative product, OgilvyOne not only created good work but also offered un-rivalled innovation, strong leadership and solid new-business credentials.
The agency won the biggest direct marketing pitch of the year, scooping the highly sought-after £50 million Department of Health account in a "winner-takes-all" process against other agencies including Proximity London, Partners Andrews Aldridge, DraftFCB and Kitcatt Nohr Digitas.
While it has been a tough year for the UK direct marketing industry as a whole – with industry observers accusing the UK direct market of trailing behind its European counterparts – OgilvyOne has experienced its most successful year ever.
It was the only UK direct marketing agency to be recognised at Cannes 2012. It scooped a silver Lion in the Direct category for "the gnome experiment" on behalf of Kern & Sohn. It also proved its digital expertise by picking up a bronze in the Cyber category for the same campaign. However, the awards didn’t stop there. OgilvyOne was also the most-awarded agency in the Direct category for its work on Kern & Sohn, British Airways and IBM at this year’s Campaign Big Awards.
If that wasn’t enough, it landed ten golds at the DMA Awards 2012 and won the coveted Grand Prix, after being shortlisted for a record 23 times for creating notable work for clients including, again, Kern & Sohn, American Express and Drinkaware.
OgilvyOne’s bold approach to pitching for British Airways’ global digital account this year is also something to be admired. It beat the digital specialist SapientNitro to the business after taking a gamble to offer a bespoke yet untested offering, The 12th Floor, which included a consortium of agencies outside WPP for the first time, including eCommera, Imano, Ravensbourne College and Decision Technology. This level of innovation and OgilvyOne’s courage to recognise its strengths as well as weaknesses have been refreshing to see (particularly as such qualities are all too rare now in direct marketing).
The promotion of the agency’s UK chief executive, Annette King, to the head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa led to a reshuffle of the management team in May. The managing director, Sam Williams-Thomas, replaced King as the UK chief, leaving his position open for the managing partner, Jo Coombs, to take.
While OgilvyOne is still considered to be King’s baby, the trio have a good track record of working together after pitching for and winning the News International direct marketing account in April. New business also came from BlackRock, iShares, Land Rover and Google, enabling it to record a big growth in operating profit.
Creatively, OgilvyOne has remained consistent. The creative department continues to be led by the executive creative directors (and husband and wife team) Emma de la Fosse and Charlie Wilson. Creative highlights included that award-winning work for Kern & Sohn, a campaign that brought to life the potentially boring task of promoting scales to the science and education community. The work-turned-science-experiment saw a gnome travel around the world, providing scientists the opportunity to measure its exact weight using Kern & Sohn scales, which allow them to pick up minute fluctuations of weight due to gravity.
The campaign was a classic example of how small-budget projects can be hugely successful with the right creative use of digital and social media. Results spoke for themselves: traffic to the Kern & Sohn e-catalogue increased by 200 per cent.
All in all, OgilvyOne has defined the new era of direct marketing: innovative, technologically forward-thinking, creative and media-agnostic.
It is the second year running that Lida has lost out to OgilvyOne in the battle for Direct Agency of the Year. However, Lida still had a year to be immensely proud of. After a brilliant end to 2011, which saw it walk away with the huge O2 account, the agency closed its doors to new business to focus on delivering great creative work for its existing clients.
And deliver great creative work it did, led by the lively creative director, Nicky Bullard, who has pushed the agency’s creativity up another notch. Fantastic work across clients such as Ikea and Boots was obvious, while for O2, the agency launched a first for the brand by creating a direct mail campaign using augmented reality.
Once its new-business doors reopened half way through the year, the shop went on to win InterContinental Hotels Group, the National Trust and Virgin Holidays, which went some way in making up for losing its long-standing client Mini. Despite the departure of its chief executive, Mel Cruickshank, Lida’s management has remained focused after promoting its chief strategy officer, Matthew Heath, to chairman. If Lida can combine its brilliant creative work with its high new-business achievements from 2011 and retain a stable management team, then 2013 could be its year.
Partners Andrews Aldridge
Partners Andrews Aldridge deserves a worthy mention after coming the furthest in the past year. This year has seen a refocused and re-energised agency under the chief executive, Martin Nieri, who joined last year. The shop boasted nine wins, including The Glenlivet and Marriott International, and no losses, with total billings of more than £36 million. Work has also improved under the creative partner, Steve Aldridge, most notably for clients such as Rolls-Royce, the Department of Health and BMW, leaving Partners Andrews Aldridge to end 2012 on a high.
Rapp came a noble fourth in our judging for Direct Agency of the Year. Leadership at the shop is strong and comes from the chief executive, Marco Scognamiglio. Despite a rocky start to 2012, Rapp has made some notable inroads through new business, picking up accounts for Dulux and Tena, and also scooping the £12 million consolidated Barclays integrated account. The agency has also ramped up its creative department under the chief creative officer, Rik Haslam, hiring six new associate creative directors in a bid to improve its already effective creative output.
Recent winners: OgilvyOne (2011); OgilvyOne (2010); Partners Andrews Aldridge (2009); Elvis (2008); OgilvyOne (2007)