EUROPEAN AGENCIES: The right fit

The European marketing directors from Ford and ICI Paints reveal what attracted them to their advertising network and why they remain faithful.

CHRIS GREEN - Senior vice-president global marketing, ICI Paints

In toughish times right now, more and more, it's about the work, the work, the work! For me, the key point, actually the whole point, of the agency input is the creative. It's the work the consumer sees, the all-important call-to-action, whether you make the sale or not. This is the huge appeal of BBDO and this, crucially, is why we value our relationship.

We came together in 1996, and the chemistry works very well. While in the case of Dulux we have tremendous depth in technology, market know-how and commercial logic, we have been relatively less strong in the past in the areas of outward creativity and building brand affinity. BBDO has made a terrific contribution to the whole business by helping us to deliver a joined-up brand plan.

A constant challenge is not to become too cosy though, and we need refreshment and debate in the relationship to keep the business moving forward. As in any open dialogue, it's the trust and mutuality up and down the various levels of client-agency relationship that makes ours a strong and healthy one for both of us.

It works because it plays to the talent and excellence of the local offices, which work with and help enrich the knowledge of the whole network. Increasingly we work from the grass-roots up, by understanding the local market conditions and unique challenges, searching for breakthrough insights, and finding the creative leap into simple, undeniable, compelling copy. Together we are building a strong and locally relevant global brand asset for ICI Paints in Dulux.

The local touch and focus of the BBDO network is the imperative rather than a central command and control model. A lot of this is to do with the calibre of the BBDO people, and I'm always impressed by the enthusiasm and drive with which the people on our account approach the business.

BBDO has invested a lot in recent years to recruit and keep very good people and I can well believe it's a great agency to work at. The results speak for themselves.

MURAT YALMAN - Vice-president of marketing, Ford of Europe

Our decision to move the larger part of our European business back into the Ogilvy network was based on a number of factors: its ability to work regionally while still implementing efficiently on a local level, its understanding of brands and its knowledge of the automotive sector across borders. It has good people on the ground backed by strong regional and worldwide leadership. And, perhaps unusually for an ad agency, it also knows how to listen!

On a cultural level, I think there's an affinity between our values at Ford and the values set down by David Ogilvy that still inform a lot of the behaviour at O&M. It's an open society that encourages teamwork and proper collaboration. I need an agency that can really get into the guts of our business, not stand at arm's length, and Ogilvy is never squeamish in that regard. The current relationship is strong enough to withstand the occasional frank exchange of views without losing sight of our common goals.

Delivery across the network is pretty consistent given the size and complexity of the task. The common culture - and almost 100 per cent ownership - lends Ogilvy a coherence that other networks lack. It has the ability to implement locally against a centrally determined strategy, which is important when market conditions vary so much from country to country.

If there's one area where we're pushing each other for improvement, it's in producing campaigns that provide a genuine emotional connection with our consumers. Of course there's always going to be a tension with commercial pragmatism in that area - we're out to sell cars, after all. But Ogilvy understands this and like any other issues that arise, it's something that we will work together to improve.

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