Set a highly ambitious target by Daewoo’s Korean manufacturer, Patrick Farrell was at the centre of the car-maker’s unique customer-friendly strategy.

Set a highly ambitious target by Daewoo’s Korean manufacturer,

Patrick Farrell was at the centre of the car-maker’s unique

customer-friendly strategy.

Is it fair to single out any one individual in a collective enterprise

like direct marketing? After all, successful direct marketing depends

less on individual flair than advertising, where a flash of inspiration

can turn muck into brass.

But life isn’t fair, and individuals do win prizes. Step forward,

Patrick Farrell (top left), marketing director of Daewoo Cars and the

first Campaign Direct Client of the Year.

The initial idea, that of presenting Daewoo as a customer-focused car

manufacturer, came from Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters’ initial pitch

presentation in August 1994. Farrell, the marketing director, picked up

the idea and ran with it.

At a weekend brainstorming session Farrell, Gary Duckworth (planning

director), and the other Daewoo management (none professional marketers)

explored two options: starting from a blank piece of paper and focusing

on customers, or the traditional dealer-based launch. For two months

parallel business plans were developed, before the customer route


The decision to focus on service rather than product was partly forced

by the quality of the cars themselves. Based on old Vauxhall Astra and

Cavalier designs, Daewoo’s Nexias and Esperos were reliable, but


Shots of the cars racing along roads were never on the agenda.

From the starting point of customer focus, the other elements fell into

place. What do consumers want? Why not ask them - hence the launch

advertising appealing for guinea-pig drivers. What do consumers hate?

Dealers - so do without them. But how do we sell the cars? Easy - we’ll

build our own show rooms. Hidden costs such as delivery charges? Bin


Making the customer-focused strat-egy work required Farrell’s constant

attention. It was clear that consumers distrusted commission-hungry


To counter this, Daewoo sales staff were not paid on commission. And

electronic information systems were installed in showrooms, allowing

customers to ’design’ their cars without being badgered.

Pre-launch ads billed Daewoo as ’the biggest car company you’ve never

heard of’. Launch advertising using DRTV built a 200,000-strong database

from scratch by offering 200 test drives for a year. About 40,000 people

visited showrooms. A 60 per cent response rate to follow-up mailings

established a range of customer likes and dislikes.

In January 1996, the next phase of the advertising showed people, and

cars, crashing into walls like crash-test dummies. It sought the 100

consumers who had suffered at the hands of competitor dealers and

generated 125,000 phone calls. From these a further database of 51,000

was culled.

Sitting at the centre of this whole process was 48-year-old Farrell. On

first meeting, he is affable, pleasantly self-deprecating. In fact, he

could probably pass himself off as the manager of a provincial town

planning department.

Agency collaborators describe a first-rate mind, equally at home with

pushing broad creative concepts as with worrying about the smallest

operational detail. His ’big picture’ side kicks in at early stages of

campaigns, with the mastery of detail coming into play later.

He accepts strong opinions from colleagues and subordinates with


Flashes of temper do occur, but very rarely. His demeanour varies

between the iron hand in the velvet glove, and the iron hand in the iron


Twenty years riding the shifting fortunes and incarnations of the Rover

Group have turned Farrell into a corporate survivor. At Rover he was a

small cog in a giant wheel, at Daewoo the opposite. The sudden change

may account for some of the quirks in his character.

He’s a life-long sailor, and managed to propel the Duckworth Finn team

into third place when he skippered its entry in the annual agency yacht

race. Force nine winds, and an inexperienced crew, reduced Farrell,

according to one crew member, to ’a foul-mouthed bastard’.

His other hobby, rebuilding Austin Sevens, is associated more with

retired engineers than marketing directors. But in Farrell it indicates

an enthusiasm for cars in all their forms. He drives, incidentally, a

top of the range Daewoo, the Espero 2.0 CDXi.

Has Daewoo, and by implication Farrell, succeeded? According to the Top

Gear presenter, Quentin Willson, Daewoo represents ’a higher standard by

which all other car manufacturers will be judged’. In terms of sales,

the launch lays claim to be the most successful ever in the UK. In April

1995, Daewoo had 0.68 per cent of the market, in December 0.91 per cent,

a year later 1.06 per cent. That represents sales of 21,438 units. The

seemingly ambitious target, set in 1994 by corporation chairman,

Woo-Choong Kim, was 1 per cent of the UK market by the end of 1997.

Farrell has pulled it off.


1994: Marketing director, Daewoo Cars

1993-94: Director, European marketing, Rover Group Markets

1991-93: Marketing director, Rover Germany

1988-91: Director of advertising and research, Rover Cars

1984-88: Market research manager, Austin Rover

1981-84: Manager, current products research, Austin Rover

1980-81: Advertising executive, British Leyland

1978-80: Market planning manager, Central Europe, British Leyland


1975-78: Product and market planning supervisor, Northern Europe,

British Leyland International

1973-75: Short-term sales planning, Austin Morris UK.


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