LIVE ISSUE/HPT BRAND RESPONSE: How will Rainey Kelly’s direct marketing arm fare? - Eleanor Trickett assesses the ’no-new-age bullshit’ policy of the HPT start-up

Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe, arguably one of the last ’traditional’ agencies to launch has, at last, been bitten by the direct marketing bug and is backing a new brand response agency (Campaign, last week). But what’s behind the move?

Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe, arguably one of the last

’traditional’ agencies to launch has, at last, been bitten by the direct

marketing bug and is backing a new brand response agency (Campaign, last

week). But what’s behind the move?



Harrison Patten Troughton Brand Response will open in May - although it

has already begun chasing business - and will be headed by three direct

marketing and new-media heavyweights: Tim Patten from BT’s multimedia

unit and an alumnus of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and FCO; Martin

Troughton, the managing director of Bates Communications and before that

an old Ogilvy boy; and Steve Harrison, most recently the creative

director of OgilvyOne.



Rainey Kelly can look to several models on which to base the HPT

operation.



Instead of going for the wholly owned subsidiary option on the one hand

(such as Lowe Direct and GGT Direct), or the fully integrated model (for

example, HHCL & Partners) on the other, the partners of Rainey Kelly

have set up the trio and relinquished majority ownership.



Jim Kelly, managing partner of Rainey Kelly, explains: ’Not all clients

want a one-stop shop. Some want to choose from a variety of centres of

excellence. One reason we got involved in Brand Response was that we

wanted to set up another such centre, and that would have been harder to

achieve if we had just set up within the agency or created a wholly

owned subsidiary.’



Rainey Kelly as an agency appears more needy than most of a direct

marketing option. Harrison adds: ’If an idea comes up that can’t be

executed by an ad agency, then Rainey Kelly wants what’s best for it. In

the past, they hadn’t found anyone that viewed brands in quite the same

way.’



Richard Hytner, currently the managing director of Publicis and the man

who transformed Still Price Lintas into a through-the-line agency during

his time as chief executive there, agrees. ’If you set your store on the

basis of payment for ideas, it is entirely consistent that the ideas can

be extended beyond traditional advertising.’



Since its launch in 1993, Rainey Kelly has seen most subsequent launches

open with below-the-line credentials firmly in place, giving rise to the

now hackneyed ’media neutral’ description. In the past five years, the

Lowe Group has set up Lowe Direct and Howell Henry has plundered the

sales promotion agency, IMP, for a fistful of below-the-line specialists

to give the agency fully integrated status.



Reasons given for venturing below the line invariably put the client

first - but, of course, there’s more to it than that. In January 1996,

when the Lowe Group belatedly acknowledged the significance of direct

marketing by launching Lowe Direct, it was a sign of the times - but

there’s no denying it was also a canny business decision. With clients

such as Vauxhall and Tesco on its books, the agency could ill-afford to

lose huge chunks of potential business.



Frank Lowe took the approach that direct marketing wouldn’t replace

traditional advertising but could forge a relationship between brand and

customer - after advertising had established the brand in the first

place.



Howell Henry saw it differently. Why not just bring it all together to

make one big happy family? The partners believed that having two

planners, two account directors and two teams was faintly ridiculous for

an agency such as theirs, and pulled everything under the same roof to

be watched over by Chris Satterthwaite, who was the chief executive of

IMP and was made a partner at HHCL.



Testament to the success of the move was HHCL nabbing the pounds 5

million account for Guinness Ireland from under Ogilvy & Mather’s nose -

a win largely attributed to Satterthwaite - and the agency’s ability to

take on the through-the-line task, right down to the beer mats.



Harrison admits that many people would expect Rainey Kelly to opt for

the integrated option, but argues it would have been a bad idea. ’There

is no precedent for it working, ’ he says. ’If you asked Axel

(Chaldecott, creative partner at HHCL): ’do you understand direct

marketing?’, he’d say, ’nah - we’re an ad agency.’’



Harrison is careful not to pigeonhole HPT before its doors are open, but

is keen to point out that the agency will pointedly not be using the

term ’media neutral’. ’What we’re doing is common sense,’ he says. ’It’s

not new-age bullshit.’



HPT may, or may not be, working with Rainey Kelly’s existing clients

(some already have below-the-line arrangements in place), but it is

clear that at least some of the agency’s clients are going to look at

what’s on offer. Within three hours of news of the start-up breaking,

HPT had won a place on the Ionica shortlist (alongside O&M and Brann) -

a client Rainey Kelly services above the line.



HPT’s success on pitch-lists independent of Rainey Kelly will certainly

be helped by the client’s knowledge that it can gain access to the

above-the-line resource - and it must be to everyone’s advantage that a

major cultural change for the agency looks unlikely. ’Rainey Kelly is

paid for ideas and they’re not necessarily responsible for the execution

of those ideas. God bless ’em for making what agencies do to be worthy

of payment,’ Harrison applauds.



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