The established agencies star in this exhaustive review of direct creativity over the last year and the previous five years. But some new names have entered the league from the ad agency world. Meg Carter investigates.

The established agencies star in this exhaustive review of direct

creativity over the last year and the previous five years. But some new

names have entered the league from the ad agency world. Meg Carter


A Royal Mail campaign designed to promote the benefits of effective

direct mail was just one of the campaigns that helped IMP secure pole

position in the first Campaign Direct Creative Agency of 1996


IMP scored a category win at the 1996 Direct Marketing Association

awards for its Royal Mail work. It also won Institute of Sales Promotion

golds for its work on Southern Comfort, TSB Bank and the Texaco motor

oil, Havoline.

1996 Sales Promotion Consultancy Association wins came for a campaign

for Tony Stone Images and an in-store promotion for Umbro.

Andy Blackford, a former creative director of IMP, is not surprised by

his old agency’s performance. ’Its creative standards are terrific,’ he

says. ’It is producing fabulous work, although it’s sometimes difficult

to sort out what is direct and what isn’t. It is an integrated agency -

neither direct marketing nor sales promotion.

’IMP’s strength lies in a willingness to mix up different disciplines

within the agency and to let people get on with it.’ He adds: ’Creative

standards in the industry as a whole can only benefit as competition

grows, not least with the growing involvement of above-the-line

agencies.’ It’s harder to achieve good creativity in direct marketing

than it is in above-the-line advertising, he explains. ’That’s because

the clients commissioning the work tend to be more junior than those

handling the advertising agencies - they lack the confidence to buy

creativity, which is alarming.’

IMP also fared well in a second league that investigated creative

performance over the preceding five years. The agency was second, 16

points behind the winner, Impact FCA, which achieved a consistently

strong performance thanks to its joint creative heads, Shaun McIlrath

and Ian Harding. The duo has established a reputation for the agency as

something of a creative hotshop - a rare positioning for an agency that

is part ad agency, part sales promotion and part direct marketing shop,

sharing some resources with its parent, FCB.

McIlrath puts the agency’s success down to its unique approach: the

starting point for every campaign sees agency, client and consumers

participating in a research group. ’It’s allowed us to create bolder

campaigns,’ he explains. Also, he adds: ’We often work from clients’

offices and allow them to meet creatives whenever they want: this

combats prima-donna creatives and laziness.

Basically, there’s nowhere to hide.’

Impact FCA, however, failed to make the top 20 in the 1995/6 league.

McIlrath puts this down to its decision to submit far fewer entries

’We’re not so prize-oriented, it’s about results,’ he claims. ’But the

one I really want to win is an IPA Advertising Effectiveness award.’

Campaign awarded points according to the number - and nature - of wins

in three prominent annual schemes: the DMA/Royal Mail Awards, the ISP

Awards and the SPCA Best Awards (see the table key on page 10 for an

explanation of the points system). Two league tables were compiled, one

covering the latest awards schemes (for 1995/6) the other covering

1990/1 to 1994/5.

The WPP-owned Promotional Campaigns Group put in a strong showing to

secure second position in the 1995/6 rankings and fifth position in the

five-year league. Its performance was fuelled by golds for the launch of

Warner Wellcome’s Zantac 75, plus its work for the Carlsberg ’95 music

tour and a bag-recycling campaign for Sainsbury’s.

Hot on Promotional Campaigns’ heels, in third place, was Saatchi and

Saatchi, one of a handful of above-the-line agencies heading the 1995/6

listings that had no showing in terms of awards wins in the preceding

five years. Saatchis picked up gongs at the DMA for its acclaimed Army

recruitment campaign.

And, at the ISP, it scored wins with its work for Toyota, Walt Disney

Attractions, promotional work for Carlsberg-Tetley and Gillette

Non-Sticky Gel.

Paul Snudden, director of integrated at Saatchis, explains that there

has been a ’fundamental shift’ over the past two years in the product

the agency offers its clients. ’We have deliberately gone out with an

integrated product offering,’ he says. ’Most ad agencies have a lot of

subsidiaries spread across town - Grey is a case in point. We decided to

forget that. It’s about putting the right people in account groups to

deliver the right creative product. So, we have hired account handlers

with direct marketing and sales promotion expertise.’

Also, he adds, a single account team overcomes the problems of factions

fighting over budgets and avoids the pitfalls associated with different

profit centres. ’The geographic location of people and the breaking down

of barriers between different disciplines is the only way to go,’

Snudden says. This is not necessarily a question of agency size, he

adds: ’It’s more to do with attitude.’

Other above-the-line agencies enjoying a rapid ascent include Howell

Henry Chaldecott Lury and Partners (ranked eleventh for 1995/6), thanks

to two ISP golds for Orange Tango and DMA seconds for its ’cult of Jim’

Lemon Tango launch. The latter involved an integrated campaign with

above-the-line work closely linked to a phone line, Jim-themed

fulfilment packs, leaflets and merchandise in the form of a friendship

bracelet. A second DMA award was for the agency’s work for Martini.

Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters also made a strong showing - it entered the

1995/6 league in 19th place, thanks to Daewoo. ’We haven’t made a big

fuss about the consequences of trying to become integrated,’ its deputy

managing director, Charlie Dawson, says. ’The reason for doing so much

with Daewoo is that it came directly out of its strategy of customer


While we need to talk to customers on a mass basis, we also a need to

talk to them as individuals.

’Agencies are more aware of the range of tools on offer,’ he adds.

’Above-the-line creative talent is becoming more relevant to

below-the-line applications.

In the future, exactly who did which bit will become less important.

What’s central must be the marketing project itself.

’Agencies have, perhaps, been constrained, until now, by client concerns

as to whether they can do all the different elements. Now I think

there’s an understanding that, whether or not it’s done in-house, it can

be done and done well.’ This has been driven by improvements in the

range of idiot-proof tools on offer, such as computerised call handling,

Dawson says.

’It’s less important who’s done which. It’s the whole that counts.’

Unperturbed by the rise of the above-the-line agency, the direct

specialist, Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel, put in a solid showing

in 1995/6 (where it came fourth) and in the five-year rankings, where it

came sixth.

1995/6 DMA plaudits went to its work for Freemans Finest Gold Club.

Craik Jones handled the relaunch, which included a monthly newsletter

and a welcome pack designed as a gift-wrapped present. The agency also

scored wins for a direct campaign for Ariston parent, Merloni, and for

its oldest client, Land Rover, for promotions involving the


According to the Craik Jones director/ copywriter, Simon Kershaw, the

agency’s approach is to make creativity and planning a priority. ’This

agency was set up to be creative-led,’ he explains. ’That’s why the

creatives’ names went at the front, rather than being ordered

alphabetically.’ However, he adds: ’It takes more than good creatives.

It’s about having the planning role sorted, as well. We have always

invested heavily in planning across all accounts where others, perhaps,

have seen this only as a new-business tool.’

Even so, he adds, there is still some way to go before the industry can

congratulate itself on creative standards. ’The reason creative

standards are still not sparkling is that creative people are not

getting under the skin of consumers in the same way advertising agency

creatives do,’ he argues. ’It takes more than knowing where the logo

best sits on a brochure or the ability to follow design guidelines.

You’ve got to really move people: that’s the challenge.’

Also on the up in 1995/6 was the Marketing Store, in fifth place (ranked

15th over the preceding five years) with its strong retail work for Asda

and Walkers. Clarke Hooper came in at number six (it was ranked 16th for

1990/1 to 1994/5) and Limbo, owned by BBH, ranked number nine - it did

not make it into the preceding years’ top 20.

Performing below the previous five-year average were Option One, ranked

eighth in 1995/6 compared with fourth position; SMP, ranked ninth

compared with seventh; and Ogilvy and Mather Direct which ranked joint

14th with Billington Cartmell, compared with third position ahead of

Option One for 1990/1 to 1994/5. In fairness to O&M Direct, it only

entered one of the three schemes we considered (DMA) and remains

well-regarded, with a rising turnover and a strong creative reputation

for clients such as IBM, British Telecom, Bupa and the Royal Mail.

The surprise outsider was Scotland Direct, which scored three wins and

two third places at last year’s DMA awards for campaigns including a

direct mailing addressing BSE. Scotland Direct (Holdings) is behind the

food club, Scottish Gourmet’s, additive-free food products. A second

campaign, which also won, comprised a subscriptions drive.

Evans Hunt Scott made a strong showing, coming in tenth in the five-year

league thanks partly to its work for Tesco and the Clubcard launch.

However, it did not figure in the 1995/6 top 20. Meanwhile, WWAV Rapp

Collins - Britain’s largest direct marketing agency - came in at number

nine for its performance over the past five years but did not figure in

the top 20 of the 1996 league.

The creative director, George Boyter, admits to disappointment at the

agency’s performance in the 1995/6 awards schemes, although WWAV did win

a DMA brand-building award for its work for Heinz. ’This is an agency

where people decide what to do and get on with it. There are no set

prescriptions - something which is at odds with outside perceptions of

our agency,’ he says.

This is a strategy that has served WWAV well in recent years - it came

ninth in the 1990/1 to 1994/5 league for a number of consistently

successful campaigns, including Renault, and work for the NSPCC. Boyter

concedes that WWAV’s performance in the 1995/6 awards scheme hurt but

refuses to dwell on the past. ’The only state of mind you can work from

is: take it on the chin and let’s do better next time,’ he says.


Who’s going up the direct creative league tables? Well, to the

ill-disguised consternation of some traditional direct marketing

agencies, the most striking new entrants are ad agencies - notably

Saatchis, Duckworth Finn and HHCL.

But this is good for the cause of direct marketing. When Daewoo won the

1996 DMA grand prix award for its campaign, created by Duckworth Finn,

it was taken as a sign of just how far the direct marketing industry had

come. It marked the first time a DRTV-led campaign had taken the overall

prize, and proved no product category could be thought to fall outside

direct marketing’s expertise.

While Duckworth Finn has not made a song and dance about trying to

attract integrated briefs, Saatchis has gone out to reinvent itself by

seeking more through-the-line business.

Howell Henry, meanwhile, has presented integrated communications as a

central part of its offering for longer, as reflected in a consistent

run of awards for Tango.


The most notable exclusion from the 1996 league table (previous page) is

FCB-owned, Impact FCA, the hotshop that tops the creative league for the

previous five years (this page). So what went wrong? More a policy

matter than a fall-off in standards, Impact puts the omission down to

its decision to submit far fewer entries. (Also, did it have enough work

to be proud of?) The agency says it has taken the decision to be more

results- than prize-oriented and has set its sights on an IPA

Effectiveness award. Time will tell whether it has the clients and nous

to win one.

The Omnicom subsidiary and industry giant, WWAV Rapp Collins, also fared

badly in the recent awards while coming joint ninth over five years. But

the creative director, George Boyter, is philosophical and the agency

can satisfy itself with the knowledge that what it has added in growth

terms in the last financial year is equivalent to the billings of a

respectable, medium-sized agency.


Rank  Agency             Pts   ISP            SPCA      DMA

1     IMP                108   4G             2W, 3M    1W, 1/2nd, 1/3rd

2     Promotional

      Campaigns          80    3G, 2S, 4B     -         -

3     Saatchi and

      Saatchi            76    5G, 1M         -         1W, 1/3rd

4     Craik Jones        74    -              -         4W, 4/2nd, 5/3rd

5     Marketing Store    72    1G, 3S, 3B,1M  1M        1/3rd

6 =   Clarke Hooper      58    1G, 1M         2W, 3M    -

6=    Communicator       58    2G, 1S         1W, 2M,

                                              1/2nd     -

8     Option One         56    1G, 2S         1W, 2M    -

9=    SMP                48    2G, 2S, 1M     -         -

9=    Limbo              48    1G, 2S, 1B     -         1W

11=   HHCL               46    2G, 1S         -         2/2nd

11=   Burnett Assoc      46    -              -         4W, 1/2nd

11=   Tequila            46    1S, 2B         2W        -

14=   Billington

      Cartmell           44    1G, 2S, 2B     -         -

14=   O&M Direct         44    -              -         1W, 4/2nd, 5/3rd

16=   Scotland Direct

      (in-house)         34    -              -         3W, 2/3rd

16=   MSB&K              34    -              -         2W, 2/2nd, 1/3rd

18    Triangle           30    -              2W,1M     -

19=   DFGW               28    -              -         1G, 1W, 1/2nd

19=   BLP                28    1G, 1S, 1B     -         -

19=   Masterguide        28    2G, 1M         -         -

22=   Brann              22    -              -         2W, 1/3rd

22=   Marketing

      Principles         22    1S, 1B          1M       -


Rank  Agency              Pts   ISP              SPCA      DMA

1     Impact FCA          328   1GP, 1W, 6G,

                                1S, 5B, 1M       3W, 4M    9W, 4/2nd,


2     IMP                 312   1GP, 1Plat, 9G,

                                5S, 1B, 2M       5W, 6M    1W

3     O&M Direct          278   -                -         1G, 15W,



4     Option One          266   1GPB, 3W, 9G,

                                4S, 6M           1W, 3M    6/3rd

5     Promotional

      Campaigns           265   1GPS, 7W, 7G,

                                2S, 3B, 6M       3M        -

6     Craik Jones         236   -                -         2G, 14W,

                                                           8/2nd, 12/3rd

7     SMP                 194   1W, 8G, 3S,

                                4B, 5M           1W        -

8     Blue Chip Marketing 152   1GP, 1W, 6G,

                                3S, 2B, 2M       -         -

9     WWAV Rapp Collins   142   -                -         1G, 10W,

                                                           4/2nd, 5/3rd

10    Evans Hunt Scott    122   -                -         7W, 7/2nd,


11    Tequila             106   1G, 3B, 1M       4W, 4M    -

12    Maxima              99    1GPS, 3W,

                                2G, 5M           -         1/3rd

13=   Business

      Development P/ship  96    3W, 2G, 1S,

                                3B, 2M           -         -

13=   KLP                 96    2W, 3G, 1S,

                                1B, 5M           -         -

15    Marketing Store     94    2G, 4S, 2B       1W, 1M    -

16    Clarke Hooper       88    1W, 2B, 4M       3W, 2M    -

17    TBA Marketing       80    1GP, 1Pl, 3G     1W        -

18    Dean Street

      Marketing           79    IGPS, 2W, 2G,

                                1B, 2M           -         -

19    FKB Carlson         76    3G, 2S, 2M       1W        -

20    Brann               74    -                -         6W, 1/2nd,


How the tables were compiled

The analysis for the Campaign Direct creative league 1996 consists of

the 1996 SPCA Best Awards, the 1996 DMA Awards and the 1995 ISP Awards.

The analysis for the Campaign Direct creative league over the past five

years consists of the SPCA Awards 1991-5, the DMA Awards 1991-5 and the

ISP Awards 1990-4. Points were awarded as follows.

SPCA win 12, merit 6; DMA gold 12, win 10, 2nd 6, 3rd 2; ISP grand prix

18, gold 12, silver 10, bronze 6, merit 4. In years when relevant: grand

prix silver 17, grand prix bronze 16, platinum 14. In years when the ISP

handed out winners instead of gold awards, the winner earns 12 points.


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