DIRECT MARKETING: Movers and Shakers - Ian Darby rounds up a year in direct marketing and introduces the top 20 league table of DM agencies

On the face of things, it has been a dull year for direct

marketing.



Last year there were big mergers and shakeouts that changed the look of

the league table. This year has been less about acquisition and

consolidation but there have, nonetheless, been some interesting

highlights.



The table, provided by Willott Kingston Smith, is by no means perfect

(it involves comparing data from different periods, for instance) but it

gives us a good snapshot of the agency landscape.



Brann takes the top spot despite modest growth because WWAV Rapp Collins

has slipped, with a turnover downturn of 18 per cent. However, WWAV's

figures are almost two years old now and cannot be seriously compared

with those from rival agencies.



The growth of interactive helped OgilvyOne to a strong performance.

However, the downturn in interactive work this year may affect this. For

this reason, expect Wheel Group, an interactive group that owns Pres.co

and Foresight, to post lower growth next time after shooting in at

number four.



Nigel Howlett, the chairman of OgilvyOne, says: "It has been a strange

year. Primarily, there has been a significant but healthy transition in

the interactive space. We had a hugely successful fourth quarter (in

2000), but then there has been a major adjustment this year. Overall for

this year, interactive will still grow for us by 20 per cent. We have

had to make redundancies but this is due to differences quarter on

quarter."



Chris Gordon, the chairman and chief executive of WWAV Rapp Collins

Group, also says there has been a slowdown in the agency's digital

business.



However, he says that Zalpha, its consultancy arm, has compensated with

growth of between 30 and 40 per cent. "Given the current climate, things

are going surprisingly well. But will this continue? I don't really

know."



Others are less optimistic. Jon Claydon, the chairman of Claydon Heeley

Jones Mason, says: "It has been a difficult year; 2000 was a bit of an

aberration and the shakeout needed to happen. The client side has

tightened up, with the procurement guys walking around and trying to

make cuts."



While there have been fewer mergers this year, two significant players -

Black Cat and Triangle - were snapped up. J. Walter Thompson and

Publicis respectively saw the need to buy into specialist direct

marketing and sales promotion knowledge.



Perhaps the most intriguing move of the year was WPP's decision to shed

the Impiric brand and return to good old Wunderman. This followed the

acquisition in the UK of HPT Brand Response, one of the most creative

independent agencies, by Impiric.



It seems the switch back to Wunderman was driven by a concern that the

Impiric venture had gone too far in its obsession with management

consultancy culture. So is this the current problem with direct

marketing? Simon Marshall, the managing director of Publicis Dialog,

says: "I think what I'd like to see is the industry rediscovering

creativity as a debate. The high-water mark of discussion until three

months ago was consultancy and CRM. While this is important, I think

creativity and creative engagement is what it should be about."



Many on awards juries would testify that the overall standard of direct

marketing creative has improved over the past year. John Townshend, the

creative director of Rapier, says: "Generally, creative quality is

improving. There are many more highlights and this is down to the proper

craftsmen and good thinkers now working in direct marketing."



Certainly, some of the creative produced in the past year (such as

Archibald Ingall Stretton's Skoda work, Rapier's ntl creative, Lowe

Live's Saab campaigns, Harrison Troughton Wunderman's Vodafone activity

and Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel's Gordon's Gin mailings) is

setting new standards.



An emerging trend is the use of mixed media in direct marketing

campaigns, which has the effect of blurring the boundaries between

traditional advertising, direct and ambient. The industry can, perhaps,

learn some lessons from the fact that two of the most awarded direct

marketing campaigns of the year - Saatchi & Saatchi's Monster.co.uk work

and Mother's Brit Art outdoor activity - were produced by ad

agencies.



Townshend says: "In the use of direct media, there is this emerging

contrast between businesslike direct marketing and thinking a bit more

broadly. The biggest problem is that agencies and work are still put in

a box and, as a result, it's still very difficult to find an agency that

understands the business end of direct marketing but has the best

planning and creative in London."



Simon Kershaw, the creative director at Craik Jones Watson Mitchell

Voelkel, sees a lot of evidence of a rapidly maturing industry:

"Creative opportunities now involve bigger overall budgets and

multimedia campaigns. The days of the scrappy, one-off 'mailshot' seem

to be over for good."



He adds: "Creatives in DM are involved more deeply with the client's

other lead agencies. There is integration at a deeper level and earlier

stage in the process - it's not just about folding the ad and sticking

it into an envelope."



David Harris, the creative director at LIDA, says there is room for

improvement in many agencies. "My big thing is the continuing lack of

craft skills. The whole breaking down of barriers between disciplines is

a good thing but it does mean that sometimes you lose the craft skills,

especially in writing."



Harris adds: "I think clients are demanding that standards improve.

People pay us for our skills and we're not living up to it."



A warning, then, that agencies cannot yet rest on their creative

laurels.



The table also shows some worrying signs for direct marketing agencies

in that five post a downturn in turnover even though their figures don't

take into account the turbulent events of 2001. Many of the top 20 are

predicting growth but are downscaling their expectations closer to

single figures, rather than 20 per cent.



Agency chiefs say that in the short term, the economic climate is

stifling growth and development of new services. However, Gordon says:

"Nobody is looking beyond the next six months but, in the longer term,

the focus will be on the digitalisation of clients' businesses and

evolving better CRM solutions. These are still the key definers of

future success."



Howlett agrees. He says: "There will be growth in practical, actionable

CRM consultancy management. Everybody knows the theoretical benefits but

now clients are asking 'how can I do it?', and 'where are the provable

benefits to my board or fellow board members?'."



Claydon takes a different view. He says: "The client take on the world

is they want a very fast service that is results-orientated. They need

results and they need them quickly. Highfalutin' is not where they're

at. The move upstream is all very well but clients are talking fast

turnaround and cost-based activity."



If this is the case, it will be a difficult few months ahead.



COMPANY NAME PARENT COMPANY Year end

1 Brann Snyder

Communications 31/12/99

2 OgilvyOne Worldwide WPP Group 31/12/00

3 Carlson Marketing

Group (UK) Carlson (USA) 31/12/00

4 Wheel Group Primedia 30/6/00

5 WWAV Rapp Collins Omnicom Group 31/12/99

6 IMP Bcom3 Group 31/12/99

7 Ehsrealtime Havas Advertising 31/12/99

8 Joshua Agency Grey Global Group 30/9/00

9 The Marketing Store

Worldwide The Havi Group 31/12/99

10 Colleagues Group Moore Corp

(Canada) 31/12/99

11 TBWA/GGT Direct Omnicom Group 31/12/99

12 Claydon Heeley Jones

Mason Omnicom Group 31/12/99

13 The Triangle Group Publicis Group 31/12/99

14 Haygarth Group None 31/3/00

15 FFWD Precision

Marketing Hawkeye

Communications 31/12/00

16 KLP Havas Advertising 31/12/99

17 The Marketing

Organisation None 31/12/00

18 Perspectives Red Cell WPP 31/12/99

19 Craik Jones Watson

Mitchell Voelkel Omnicom Group 31/12/00

20 BHWG Proximity Omnicom Group 31/12/99

COMPANY NAME Turnover Turnover Change

- latest - previous (%)

(£000) (£000)

1 Brann 48,543 47,706 1.75

2 OgilvyOne Worldwide 52,743 43,345 21.68

3 Carlson Marketing

Group (UK) 45,521 66,167 -31.20

4 Wheel Group 48,468 41,396 17.08

5 WWAV Rapp Collins 57,966 71,374 -18.79

6 IMP 31,650 36,200 -12.57

7 Ehsrealtime 34,480 32,962 4.61

8 Joshua Agency 31,769 38,005 -16.41

9 The Marketing Store

Worldwide 25,106 22,752 10.35

10 Colleagues Group

54,910 43,501 26.23

11 TBWA/GGT Direct 17,762 11,406 55.73

12 Claydon Heeley Jones

Mason 16,195 16,178 0.11

13 The Triangle Group 18,192 17,989 1.13

14 Haygarth Group 16,285 14,883 9.42

15 FFWD Precision

Marketing 10,839 5,037 115.19

16 KLP 16,651 20,007 -16.77

17 The Marketing

Organisation 40,045 26,447 51.42

18 Perspectives Red Cell 15,386 9,457 62.69

19 Craik Jones Watson

Mitchell Voelkel 14,380 10,247 40.33

20 BHWG Proximity 33,813 25,308 33.61

COMPANY NAME Gross income Gross income Change

- latest - previous (%)

(£000) (£000)

1 Brann 38,596 36,990 4.34

2 OgilvyOne Worldwide 28,060 21,244 32.08

3 Carlson Marketing

Group (UK) 27,691 29,347 -5.64

4 Wheel Group 25,790 21,433 20.33

5 WWAV Rapp Collins 21,313 21,934 -2.83

6 IMP 13,188 12,251 7.65

7 Ehsrealtime 12,678 12,810 -1.03

8 Joshua Agency 12,645 13,012 -2.82

9 The Marketing Store

Worldwide 11,862 10,503 12.94

10 Colleagues Group 10,234 9,172 11.58

11 TBWA/GGT Direct 10,105 6,204 62.87

12 Claydon Heeley Jones

Mason 9,314 8,419 10.63

13 The Triangle Group 9,314 9,220 1.02

14 Haygarth Group 8,814 7,278 21.10

15 FFWD Precision

Marketing 8,493 3,676 131.04

16 KLP 8,381 8,417 -0.43

17 The Marketing

Organisation 8,037 6,474 24.14

18 Perspectives Red Cell 7,039 4,477 57.23

19 Craik Jones Watson

Mitchell Voelkel 6,704 4,298 55.98

20 BHWG Proximity Not reported Not reported n/a

COMPANY NAME Pre-tax profit Pre-tax profit Change Number

- latest - previous (%) of staff

pounds (000) pounds (000)

1 Brann 2,537 4,210 -39.74 913

2 OgilvyOne Worldwide 4,620 3,851 19.97 328

3 Carlson Marketing

Group (UK) 1,316 5,879 -77.62 588

4 Wheel Group 658 -2,811 -123.41 951

5 WWAV Rapp Collins 4,364 4,951 -11.86 240

6 IMP 1,143 1,916 -40.34 168

7 Ehsrealtime 1,404 1,111 26.37 170

8 Joshua Agency 427 794 -46.22 205

9 The Marketing Store

Worldwide 470 -120 -491.67 187

10 Colleagues Group 3,325 2,092 58.94 121

11 TBWA/GGT Direct 680 339 100.74 121

12 Claydon Heeley Jones

Mason 3,233 2,323 39.17 113

13 The Triangle Group 542 614 -11.73 1,165

14 Haygarth Group 2,245 1,535 46.25 109

15 FFWD Precision

Marketing 1,370 767 78.62 127

16 KLP 823 661 24.51 138

17 The Marketing

Organisation 1,598 971 64.57 130

18 Perspectives Red Cell 1,774 670 164.78 73

19 Craik Jones Watson

Mitchell Voelkel 1,288 311 314.15 52

20 BHWG Proximity 2,012 2,134 -5.72 207

Source: Willott Kingston Smith.



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