Last year's client success story was Chris Hawken, the marketing
director of Skoda. Hawken led the efforts as the once-ridiculed car
company turned around its fortunes with some great marketing activity
spearheaded by creative work from Fallon. This year, Daihatsu's
marketing director, Paul Tunnicliffe, hopes to achieve similar success
for the Japanese car marque.
Campaign reported last week that Daihatsu is to review its pounds 4
million advertising account, held by the Birmingham-based agency Wallis
The agency said that it resigned the business after "differences over
Tunnicliffe has shortlisted Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy, Walsh Trott
Chick Smith, McCann-Erickson Central and Edge. A decision is expected by
September. Media, held by Feather Brooksbank, is not being reviewed.
Tunnicliffe is in his second stint as Daihatsu's marketing director.
He left six years ago to work on the agency side, ending up as the
account director on Ford at the event and design company
He was lured back by the new UK distributor of Daihatsu vehicles,
The reason for the review is that Daihatsu is repositioning its whole
product range and wants an agency to work on launching this. By the end
of the year Daihatsu will cease production of all models above 1.3
litres to focus solely on the small car market. It will position itself
in the marketplace as a specialist small car manufacturer.
Tunnicliffe says: "It's important to understand our historical brand
association. In the UK people associate Daihatsu with agricultural
vehicles - with making jeep-type cars that are used primarily in farming
and other commercial sectors. But we are looking to reposition the
Daihatsu brand as pre-eminent in the small car market. Our advantage
will be that all our cars are small cars."
Tunnicliffe is clear on the kind of values that he will want emphasised
in Daihatsu's advertising - technical features, environmental
friendliness and value for money will be high on the agenda. However, he
is willing to reserve judgment on the creative approach until the agency
has been selected. He says: "The key role for the agency is to create a
brand identity so that Daihatsu means something. The advertising has to
make Daihatsu stand for something."
This has been Daihatsu's problem over the last few years. While its
advertising has been cheeky and irreverent, the confusing nature of its
product range and change in UK distribution ownership has made it
difficult for it to establish a clear brand proposition.
Daihatsu's sales have suffered. In 1999 it sold 9,381 cars (or 12,000 if
sales to businesses are taken into account). Last year it managed just
4,483 sales (or close to 6,000 including company and fleet cars). Its
marketing budget and stocks of new cars were hit by the change in
distribution from Inchcape to International Motors and a relocation
process that saw Daihatsu move from Dover to International Motors'
offices near Birmingham.
Before Wallis Tomlinson's appointment the Daihatsu creative account was
held by Banks Hoggins O'Shea/FCB, which was forced to resign the
business after the FCB merger because of conflict with Daimler-Chrysler.
Banks Hoggins focused initially on raising awareness that Daihatsu is a
David Alexander, the joint creative director at Banks Hoggins, says:
"That task never stopped but later on we tried to add some personality
and establish some credibility. We wanted to convey this cheeky upstart
personality of Daihatsu being a thorn in the side of other manufacturers
and to run ads that other manufacturers didn't have the nuts to
This culminated in a press campaign two years ago that cheekily compared
Daihatsu models to high-performance cars such as Porsche and
Ads used lines such as "Picks up five times more women than a
Lamborghini" for the Hijet people carrier. This irreverent approach
ended in a run-in with the Advertising Standards Authority earlier this
year when an ad by Wallis Tomlinson was withdrawn for encouraging
Tunnicliffe says that Daihatsu will take a responsible attitude to its
advertising in the future. He admits that there are some similarities
between his task and that which faced Skoda, but argues: "We start from
a much stronger position than Skoda. Skoda started from a position of
people having negative attitudes and being ridiculed. We have a
non-image and need to inject personality into the brand."
George Wallis Jr, an account director at Wallis Tomlinson, says that its
strategy, until a new agency is appointed, is to position Daihatsu
vehicles as "quality, affordable motoring".
However, Tunnicliffe says Daihatsu will be cautious in its growth plans:
"The way to ruin a brand is to be hell-bent on growth in the short term,
so while I'm ambitious to grow it, I think controlled ambition is the
Given Daihatsu's recent reputation for ads that have crossed the line it
will be interesting to see if the appointed agency applies the same
level of control.