In this age of global business, the biggest clients increasingly
only want to work with those agencies with an international network.
However, in field marketing, relatively few UK suppliers have
There are different levels of capability. The UK's biggest field
marketing operation, the Omnicom-owned CPM International, is the most
established in Europe, having built a network of agencies in 17
countries over the past decade.
Ten of these are wholly owned and seven are affiliates. Clients who use
CPM's network for pan-European field marketing campaigns include
Hewlett-Packard, for whom the company recently performed a retail audit,
collecting data from outlets in 17 countries.
McCann-Erickson's Momentum, which has been assembled as an "experiential
branding agency", combining field marketing with allied disciplines, is
emerging as another force on the European scene. It has 26 wholly owned
offices in Europe, and a total of 60 worldwide. Its pan-European clients
include Procter & Gamble, which uses the company for distribution and
sales support for Sunny Delight and Pringles across eight European
Others include Headcount Worldwide Field Marketing and FDS Field
Both of these have "virtual networks" for international projects,
calling on strategic partners in Europe when the need arises. Julia
Collis, the sales and marketing director of Headcount, says the company
is seeing strong growth in its European business, with four projects on
the blocks already for 2002, compared with two in 2001.
Another important player is Walter Marketing of Germany. The company
bought the SEP Group in 1998, giving it a network of field marketing and
sales promotion agencies in France, Spain, Belgium and Portugal. It now
conducts 40 per cent of its business outside Germany, developing
pan-European work for clients such as Bayer and the German pharmacy
chain Schlecker, which is expanding into Spain and Austria.
As for the other big names in UK field marketing, the picture is more
patchy. Aspen Field Marketing currently does nothing in Europe, but,
under its new owner, the Chicago-based DVC Worldwide, has plans to
expand there in 2002.
Mosaic, the Canadian-based marketing group which acquired FMCG (now
Mosaic Sales Solutions) and the IT specialist EMS Chiara (now Mosaic
Technology), attempted an ambitious expansion into Europe, but has since
pulled out, closing some offices or selling them back to the previous
owners. It now has strategic alliances with agencies around Europe and
still does cross-border work for clients such as Sony.
So why is Europe not proving a sure-fire expansion route for the UK's
field marketing sector? Bruce Ellison, the business unit director at
Ellert, which is owned by Havas Advertising, says the potential for
European work is not of sufficient scale or value.
"We just don't see many clients looking for pan-European homogeneity in
field marketing. The sector in Europe is not as advanced as it is in the
US and the UK. Utility deregulation is getting off to a slow start and
in-store merchandising is not massive, with much less emphasis on
compliance. We believe the Continent is not quite ready, or the
opportunity is not there for dynamic growth."
Ellison doesn't rule out European expansion, however, especially as the
company's sister direct marketing agency Brann, to which it reported
until a few weeks ago, has been gradually building a network. But, he
adds: "It's not for field marketing to lead the way. The best option is
for us to trade off the back of wider moves made by Havas and
Ellison, like many in the industry, points to Mosaic's ill-fated
European adventure as a warning to others. Russell Green, the client
services director of FMCG, explains what the experience has taught him:
"We spread ourselves rather quickly, largely at the behest of some
clients who wanted pan-European solutions. But a lot of that work didn't
"Did we get our fingers burnt? Maybe. What we have learned is that we
should concentrate on the markets we know we can crack. Also, we now
know that if you want a foothold in Europe, the best route is through
Some of FMCG's competitors argue that its problems were a combination of
overly rapid expansion and reduced demand from key IT clients, as
opposed to Europe itself. Derek Noakes, the managing director of
Momentum, says: "When it comes to big US clients, they see Europe as one
market, whatever we may think here. They don't understand why a project
which worked in the UK can't be immediately exported into Europe. As
suppliers, we have to meet that demand."
Noakes concedes that the number of true pan-European projects is small,
with most cross-border activity being limited to two or three markets,
such as a sponsorship support project Momentum is doing for Stella
Artois in the UK and France. However, he says, the potential is always
there for wider briefs.
"Out of 20 projects, I'd be surprised if more than two were
pan-European. But if you get those 18 others right, they could lead to
Tony Stratton, the chairman of CPM, says that pan-European work is "the
smallest part of our business" but is confident that there is potential
"Just look at what is happening," he says. "The rise of global brands
means marketing is being reorganised along regional lines. We see
regional advertising, regional PR and, increasingly, regional
promotional activity. The launch of the euro can only accelerate the
There appears to be more potential for cross-border work in the
data-driven side of field marketing, such as retail auditing and
merchandise compliance. This is where a network and its consistent
systems of reporting and analysis can deliver economies of scale. At the
experiential, face-to-face, end of the spectrum, the complex human
element makes it a harder process to centralise.
For the moment, it looks as though the wisest strategy is to be
positioned to take advantage of growth in cross-border field marketing,
through having a wholly owned or affiliate network. As field marketing
matures as a communications discipline, it is only logical that clients
will begin seeking the same economies of scale that they find in other
areas of their marketing activity.
FIELD MARKETING AGENCIES IN EUROPE
Field marketing agencies in EuropeCPM CPM INTERNATIONAL
Owns agencies in ten European countries and has affiliations with seven
others. Turnover from its overseas businesses totals nearly £120
million. Much is single country work or projects for two or three
Clients include: Hewlett-Packard, BuenaVista, Mars and the Dutch
supermarket chain Ahold.
Turnover is £23 million in the UK and £44.2 million
overseas, most of which is local market activity. Around 60 per cent of
its activity is contract merchandising and 40 per cent is experiential,
such as sampling and roadshows. Momentum has 26 offices in Europe, the
Middle East and Africa.
Clients include: P&G, Interbrew and Nestle.
FDS FIELD MARKETING
A leading UK independent, it offers a virtual network of European
affiliates and is pushing into new markets. Recently worked with Nokia
on a pan-European, airport-based sales project.
Clients include: One2One, Npower and KFC.
With a turnover of £60 million, Walter is a major player in
Germany and, through its subsidiary, SEP, owns a network of agencies in
France, Spain, Belgium and Portugal.
Clients include: Bayer, Canon, Esso and 3M.