It has not always been the case that a columnist in a London
advertising magazine could begin with the words ’international direct
marketing, e-commerce and the Asian economic recovery’ and expect anyone
to make it through to the end of the first sentence.
Gentle reader, if you are still there, bear with me. For in the week of
AOL/Time Warner’s merger with EMI, the proposed Procter & Gamble
takeover of Warner-Lambert and Hutchison Whampoa’s e-commerce deal with
HSBC, these subjects are at the heart of the modern advertising
Just ask this week’s King of Madison Avenue, Bob Schmetterer, the
chairman and CEO of the world’s fifth-largest agency network, Euro RSCG.
Euro RSCG and - for that matter - Ogilvy & Mather’s internet operations
have blossomed on the back of their key respective clients, Intel and
IBM. These are, as Schmetterer observes, the new multi-national drivers
of agency expansion.
Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Philips and MCI Worldcom are the new P&G,
Unilever, Ford and General Motors.
Although FMCG and auto manufacturers will remain significant
advertisers, in the less mature world markets, they will leapfrog many
traditional advertisers’ spend within the next few years. Already, for
example, Nokia is the second-largest advertiser in China. This
development helps explain why Euro RSCG and Ogilvy are leading the fight
against non-traditional new-media specialists such as Agency.com.
One reason for Ogilvy’s head-start may not be immediately obvious: its
strength in direct marketing. OgilvyOne is perhaps - alongside Young &
Rubicam’s Wunderman - the only genuine global direct marketing
Both are in this happy situation primarily because a shared historical
client, American Express, demanded it. Organic agency growth was always
inspired by this stick and carrot relationship with its clients. And, in
future, DM and interactive activities will become more
I don’t know whether P&G’s bid for Warner-Lambert will succeed or not,
but it is another example of the attention being paid by clients and
agencies to pharmaceuticals. In the week when the recent difficulties of
IPG, relatively weak in non-traditional advertising services, became
public, the new Holy Grail client list takes on an extra sheen.
If one accepts it’s already almost too late to get into new media and
direct marketing in the US, and perhaps Europe, eyes turn to a resurgent
Asia. Many major groups have similar needs: to fill their gaps in new
media, direct and, in some cases, media buying in the region(s) where
the greatest growth potential lies. The chief snag is there’s scarcely
anything worth buying. However, in the current frenzy, that’s almost