TOP UK BRANDS AND CLIENTS: Top clients on agencies

What makes clients tick and what qualities do they really look for in their agencies? Caroline Marshall asks the questions and gets some diverse answers from a selection of top clients

What makes clients tick and what qualities do they really look for in

their agencies? Caroline Marshall asks the questions and gets some

diverse answers from a selection of top clients



VOLVO CAR UK



Craig Fabian, Communications manager, Volvo Car UK



What is your background?



I started out as a graduate trainee with the Argyll group. Stumbling

across a pounds 2 million advertising budget for the first time, I felt

I really ought to know what a TVR was. Spells at Halls, DDB and BMP

taught that it was, of course, a British sports car.



I returned to the client side with Volvo in 1990.



What advertising, apart from your own, do you like or dislike?



I enjoy advertising that grabs the attention and holds it. The best ads

compel the viewer to understand the resolution for him or herself - VW,

Jeep ‘snowplough’ and Stella Artois spring to mind.



Which other brands would you like to work for, and why?



I’d cherish an opportunity to work on a brand, which, for whatever

reason, is starting with a blank piece of paper - Virgin, Phileas Fogg,

Orange.



I’d choose either a brand leader or a brand trying to avoid relegation

over the mid-table brands being attacked from above and below.



What do you like and dislike about ad agencies?



I like their courage and their sense of purpose. I like their commitment

to the consumer’s point of view and I like their ability to find a new

perspective.



I mildly dislike all the odd little meetings rituals, four people

speaking at once, and the account man asking about sales performance

then not listening to your answer.



If you weren’t working as a client, what would your other career choice

be?



I’d love to have been a typographer or a producer. The emergency plan is

to work as a waiter in the Ceilidh Place in Ullapool and walk the beach

at Achiltibuie.



WOOLWORTHS



Alan McWalter, Marketing director, Woolworths



What is your background?



I worked in fmcg for 12 years at Unilever and Spillers Foods. Before

that I spent five years in consumer durables at Ferguson. For the last

five years, I’ve been at Kingfisher.



What advertising, apart from your own, do you like or dislike?



I like Tango, because it’s zany, risky, brave on behalf of the client

and completely in touch with the consumer. I like Volvo ‘twister’

because it’s beautifully put together and a very lateral way of

representing Volvo’s core values. Safeway’s ‘Harry’ is a great way to

differentiate the brand in such a competitive environment. And as for

Virgin Atlantic, Helen Mirren says it all.



Which other brands would you like to work for, and why?



The challenge of any marketer must be to build or rebuild a brand, not

simply inherit a successful one.



What do you like and dislike about ad agencies?



A good agency should bring out the best in a client, and vice versa; I

like that sense of real partnership. Working in such a creative

environment should be highly stimulating for both parties. I dislike the

fact that an agency can sometimes be completely out of touch with

reality.



If you weren’t working as a client, what would your other career choice

be?



A surgeon.



RSPCA



Kate Parminter, Head of campaigns, RSPCA



What is your background?



I joined Nestle on its graduate marketing programme. After two years I

went to work as a researcher for an MP, then to a PR consultancy. I

joined the RSPCA in 1990.



The most noted recent RSPCA campaign was ‘spot the ball’ - a personal

favourite - which was a key element in our successful campaign to ban

cruelty to wild mammals in the UK.



What advertising, apart from your own, do you like or dislike?



I like the Sainsbury’s and Amnesty International campaigns. I admire

Amnesty International advertising because it’s powerful, shocking -

justifiably so since the subject matter is shocking - compelling and

response-driven.



I disliked the Conservative Party’s ‘Labour’s tax bombshell’ in the 1992

election. It was so dishonest given that because of the depth of the

recession, the Government knew it would have to raise taxes.



Which other brands would you like to work for, and why?



Nike - in a commodity market it’s branded the attitude of its target

audience and made it their own. And Virgin Atlantic - because its

advertising is clean, comprises simple product information and makes

celebrity endorsement work.



What do you like and dislike about ad agencies?



I like the strong team dynamics you find in agencies, their focused

approach and their creativity. I dislike agencies’ lack of continuity,

and over-defensive creative teams.



If you weren’t working as a client, what would your other career choice

be?



I’d be an interior designer.



POLAROID



Tim Palmer, European marketing director, Polaroid



What is your background?



I’ve been at Polaroid for eight years - four years in international,

three years in new-product development and a year in US marketing.

Before Polaroid I was at Pepsi USA for three years. I started out at P&G

with three years in sales.



What advertising, apart from your own, do you like or dislike?



I really like the Allied Dunbar campaign. It gets the point across,

about being prepared for life’s uncertainties, in such a light, cheerful

way. The casting of those commercials is brilliant.



I find the ubiquitous Nike posters about a man named Peter who’s done

the marathon overwhelming. It’s just too much.



Which other brands would you like to work for, and why?



Pepsi. I used to work there but I just had to leave New York.



What do you like and dislike about ad agencies?



I like agencies that have a vision for themselves and for Polaroid and

are willing to stand by it. When the vision extends into the executional

details it is heaven. Agencies that operate with a very high level of

energy are most appealing.



If you weren’t working as a client, what would your other career choice

be?



I’d like to work on Wall Street helping to make small companies public.

The regular exposure to entrepreneurs and their ideas must be

exhilarating.



GUINNESS BREWING GB



Julian Spooner, Marketing director, Guinness Brewing GB



What is your background?



After a business degree, I started my career with Smith’s Crisps and

Snacks in 1973 as the marketing manager for such great brands as Monster

Munch and Quavers. I moved on to be the marketing controller at Sterling

Health, then to the National Diary Council in 1986 where I bought the

‘Accrington Stanley’ milk campaign from BMP.



I joined GTP/Gemini Consulting in 1990 and in 1992 became managing

director of Medcol UK, a company that manufactured and marketed a range

of consumer foods. Running a small division of a multinational, complete

with its own factory, was a ‘maturing’ experience.



What advertising, apart from your own, do you like or dislike?



I really like Orange. Making a colour your own (just as we are making

black and white the province of Guinness) is such a powerful idea.



I dislike campaigns that patronise the brand user. Muller and Kinder

Surprise get my prize for being consistently awful.



Which other brands would you like to work for, and why?



I’d like to work for Nike. I believe that the ‘just do it’ culture

genuinely operates in its business.



What do you like and dislike about ad agencies?



I love the creative process - and the spirit - in most agencies. I

despise the commercial immaturity, the poor quality of planning, and the

‘not invented here’ mentality.



If you weren’t working as a client, what would your other career choice

be?



Rational answer: a consultant. Honest answer: a racing driver. I raced

for six seasons, and if I’d been more successful I would have found

someone to pay me to take risks - now I’m paid to take risks, but with

someone else’s money.



SP TYRES UK (DUNLOP)



Stuart Wyss, Marketing services manager, SP Tyres UK



What is your background?



I’m a one-company man. From rookie recruit, through the sales force via

product and general management, and now marketing management.



Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO tops our roster, and it gave me my TV baptism

in 1990 when we made ‘you’re not properly dressed without a Dunlop’, a

commercial which began the lengthy process of updating the Dunlop image.



When Tom Carty and Walter Campbell came up with the ‘tested for the

unexpected’ script,it scared me to death, but I knew from first sight it

was right.



What advertising, apart from your own, do you like or dislike?



The Orange work, by WCRS, is an ongoing classic. It established a

quality positioning, then went on to roll out the benefits simply,

firmly and memorably.



I’ve always respected O&M’s Guinness work. Rutger made me want a pint,

but I’m not so sure about the latest ads, they don’t quite motivate me

to open the fridge in the same way.



Which other brands would you like to work for, and why?



I’d like to continue working with a brand associated with a quality

product. Mercedes Benz, Sony,Virgin, and Linn Products spring to mind.



What do you like and dislike about ad agencies?



I like an agency which allows me direct working access to the creative

and media teams without account handler paranoia. I hate philosophical

bullshit in presentations. And woe betide the agency that tries to sell

me reprocessed ideas that have already been rejected.



If you weren’t working as a client, what would your other career choice

be?



A TV food and wine expert.



BUPA



Roger Hymas, Managing director, Bupa



What is your background?



I’ve worked for the AA, American Express, Burton Group (the store card

business), General Electric (the American one), and now Bupa.



My first ad was for AA travel, back in the 70s. It cost us pounds 75,000

for a national campaign, though I have to admit it was more for staff

morale than public consumption.



I was at Amex during the ‘do you know me?’ era, when the ads featured

celebrities like Richard Branson and Roger Daltrey.



What advertising, apart from your own, do you like or dislike?



At the moment I don’t believe Gerard de Thame can do any wrong. His Carl

Lewis ad for Pirelli was outstanding, and we are delighted with his last

‘amazing’ commercial. He’s in Spain now shooting another for us.



The new Virgin upper class ‘legs’ ad has obvious appeal, but I am very

confused by the brothers’ latest work for BA. What are they saying to

me? Can anyone stop the onslaught every time I turn on Sky Sports?



Which other brands would you like to work for, and why?



As a travel fanatic, I’d like to see some of those great names from the

past revitalised - like Cunard, PanAm and Thomas Cook.



What do you like and dislike about ad agencies?



They are still overwhelmingly obsessed with the creative process. There

is much more to it than making award-winning ads. The various parts of

the marketing mix need to be better integrated. O&M [Bupa’s agency] is

doing a much better job than most, but it’s up to agencies to find a

solution.



If you weren’t working as a client, what would your other career choice

be?



I’m getting very old for all this. How about deputy assistant sheepdog

trainer in Cumbria, or trainee ghillie on a salmon lough in Ireland?



SCOTTISH COURAGE



Simon Rhodes, Brands director, lagers, Scottish Courage



What is your background?



After three years working in the City, I joined Unilever in 1985 and

worked for Birds Eye Wall’s ice cream and Van den Bergh Foods. I joined

Courage in 1994.



My more notable ad successes are Cornetto ‘opera’ in 1990, Peperami in

1993/94 and Miller Time in 1995/96.



What advertising, apart from your own, do you like or dislike?



All those involved in the Allied Dunbar ‘there may be trouble ahead’

campaign deserve a huge pat on the back. Car advertising brings out the

best and the worst in the industry. VW, Audi and Ford Galaxy clearly

highlight the value of good ideas. The current Mondeo campaign

demonstrates that clients and agencies still believe that big production

and media numbers are an adequate alternative.



Which other brands would you like to work for, and why?



I can’t help being attracted to the mystique of Guinness. Plus, without

underestimating the difficulty of the task, being part of British

Airway’s continued drive for marketing excellence must appeal to most

marketers.



What do you like and dislike about ad agencies?



The agencies I value are those that demonstrate loyalty to their

clients’ business, who have a passion for their brands and who

constantly strive to achieve communications excellence.



I dislike account men who express only other people’s opinions, and

agencies that settle for mediocrity.



If you weren’t working as a client, what would your other career choice

be?



Many marketers flirt with a career in advertising and I’m no exception.

An industry statesman once said that to get great advertising you need a

great copywriter and a client who doesn’t think he is one. Thus my

advertising ambitions are probably best served by remaining a client.



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