Well done Evans Hunt Scott, Campaign Direct Agency of the Year
The second recipient of this award has had an incredible year. Hefty new
account wins (Vodafone, BSkyB, Great Universal Stores, Scottish &
Newcastle, Tesco Personal Finance and Tesco Metro) have complemented
memorable campaigns - notably, the launch of Tesco Babyclub, which
achieved 78 per cent of its first-year target in eight weeks and went on
to recruit more than half the nation’s pregnant women. Then there was
the launch of BMW’s Z3 Roadster, in conjunction with WCRS, which roared
off down an unconventional media autobahn.
Awards were also in plentiful supply: a total of six golds including two
in the DMA/Royal Mail Awards, and a grand prix from the Marketing
Society. It’s no surprise that most of the accolades centred on EHS’s
effective work for Tesco.
Recognition and new clients would be worth very little if the bottom
line wasn’t also in shape. Turnover last year came to pounds 48 million,
a leap of almost 60 per cent on 1996. Staff numbers grew to more than
200, up a third on 1996 and reason enough to take over two more floors
in EHS’s Soho Square offices.
When you consider that 1996 turnover was itself 52 per cent higher than
in 1995, bringing profits of more than pounds 1 million, it becomes
clear that EHS is in excellent financial form. In fact, rumour has it
that it is now the most profitable agency in the Eurocom stable. Its
chief executive, Andrew Harris, who has kept a low profile to focus on
the finances, must take a bow.
The contrast with the EHS of a few years ago could not be more
In 1991, the party appeared to be over - for good. EHS was saved from
bankruptcy by the fellow below-the-line agency, WCRS/dma. The managing
director and co-founder, David Evans, was a casualty, leaving to form
his own less than spectacular agency and then quitting these shores for
EHS’s darkest hour prompted a fair bit of schadenfreude from its
Since its inception in 1986, backed with ad agency money (from BMP) and
boasting clients such as VAG and the BBC, EHS acted more like an
above-the-line agency. Before integration became a buzzword, EHS
promoted itself as a strategic agency, more concerned with brand
building below-the-line than with creating quick-fix campaigns.
This approach paid off surprisingly quickly. Within a few months, EHS
claimed to be the fastest-growing DM agency in the UK, boasting clients
like Polaroid, the Mortgage Corporation and Municipal Life. New recruits
who could broaden the agency’s offering were soon added. John Shaw was
brought in to beef up the planning side, Sally Martin added to the DM
skills, Andy Carolan brought a client’s perspective to the party and
Martin Daine added telemarketing know-how. Under Evans’ leadership, hard
work was matched by equally hard play. Brian Sassoon, now a board
planner at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, joined EHS soon after it started
up. ’It was like an extension of university for some of the younger
recruits. They were producing mould-breaking work way ahead of its time,
but still having a lot of fun,’ he says.
When things turned sour, what could have been a classic 80s boom to bust
was prevented by the astute vision of EHS’s two remaining founders -
Terry Hunt and Ken Scott. As joint creative directors, they had left the
managing to Evans. After falling out with him and then losing two more
senior people, the duo recruited Jon Ingall as managing director. A dour
Northerner, Ingall was a big contrast to the fun-loving Evans, and there
were doubts about his ability to control such a quirky corporate
culture, but he rapidly got EHS back on its feet. Hunt’s huge industry
reputation as a creative was exploited to the hilt and a number of
serious accounts arrived.
One of them, BMW, credits EHS with a change in its below-the-line
According to the customer manager, Richard Downes: ’Its stress on
creativity and ability to think more broadly than a single campaign
convinced us that direct marketing had a lot to offer.’
Another client, British Gas Services, whose relationship dates back
about four years, confirms this view. ’Of the 20 or so agencies I’ve
worked with above and below the line,’ says the marketing services
manager, Graham Hardy, ’EHS ranks in the top two. Its attention to
detail and willingness to question client strategy is impressive.’
Similarly positive noises can be heard from other EHS clients such as
Microsoft, Royal Sun Alliance, Prudential Bank, Legal & General, United
Distillers and the Labour Party, whose leader personally thanked EHS for
its general election fundraising campaigns.
Of course, 1997 wasn’t all triumph for EHS. The agency suffered the loss
of Intel and failed to win the Rover loyalty pitch.There was also the
surprise resignation of the creative director, Ken Muir. But these blips
were overshadowed by EHS’s new-found confidence.
Plaudits for 1997 also go to Rapier for its Cable & Wireless win; to
Craik Jones for winning the Rover loyalty pitch and for its acquisition
by AMV; to FCA! for the continued creative sparkle evident in its
campaigns (not forgetting its ambitious merger with Kelly Weedon Shute);
and to WWAV Rapp Collins for increased income and profits, despite the
loss of the Heinz At Home account.
But EHS was the star of 1997. With its industry-leading planning
department and investments in specialist direct response and Internet
companies (All Response Media and Zinc), the agency looks set for a more
than rosy future.
Last year’s winner: Barraclough Hall Woolston Gray.