Field Marketing Table & POP Guide: Overview: Having a field day - Field marketing is a booming business, as marketers become keener than ever to assess what is happening in the marketplace. Ken Gofton explains exactly how this sector is developing

Cinderella has a glint in her eye. She has seen the palace and the crown jewels, and, like an 80s yuppie, she has started to map out her career plans in the back of her Filofax.

Cinderella has a glint in her eye. She has seen the palace and the

crown jewels, and, like an 80s yuppie, she has started to map out her

career plans in the back of her Filofax.

There is a degree of exaggeration in that, perhaps. But what is

certainly true is that field marketing - always an important if not very

glamorous part of the mix - is sharing in the below-the-line boom.

Since the recession, marketers have been placing a greater emphasis than

ever before on measurability and evaluation. Field marketing is part of

that story. Global brands? Yes, field marketing is going


Category management? There’s a role for field marketing. One-to-one

marketing, and bringing the brand to life in the marketplace? Count it


Not surprisingly, given all this, field marketing has also been part of

the current rush to merge, rationalise and acquire. Here’s a summary of

some of the key deals that have taken place since our last league table

a year ago:

- Milton Marketing Group, which owns Headcount, is about to merge with a

US marketing services company called GHBM. They will float on the NASDAQ

stock exchange as The Healthworld Corporation.

’Its field marketing operations worldwide will be known as Headcount,’

says Mike Garnham, managing director of Headcount in the UK, which was

launched only in 1994. ’The deal will enable the Headcount brand to

expand speedily into Europe and North America, both in consumer goods

and medical.’ Garnham is forecasting a pounds 20m turnover in two years,

up from the pounds 6.4m reported here. Part of the growth will come from

a new subsidiary in the highly specialised area of medical field

marketing. Known as ’detailing’, and tightly regulated, it is a separate

industry estimated to be worth pounds 120m a year. An experienced MD was

appointed in March, and has already brought in business worth pounds 3m

a year.

Upjohn is the first major client.

- CPM International, through ad agency parent Omnicom, bought one of the

top German field marketing companies, PPD, at the start of the year. PPD

is a similar size to CPM in the UK. The total operation now has offices

in 14 countries, and will have a turnover this year of around pounds


- In another deal struck early this year, FMCG was bought by the

publicly quoted Canadian group Mosaic. The latter, which now has a

turnover of dollars 135m (pounds 61.3m), has two other principal

subsidiaries - S&MG in field marketing, and Mariposa, in below-the-line

communications, such as sales promotion. ’Mosaic is totally a

below-the-line, results-now operation,’ says FMCG managing director Mike

Cottman. ’The UK is really the beachhead for mainland Europe. We have

other takeovers planned for the UK before the end of the year, which

will broaden the services we offer.’

- As Marketing revealed exclusively last month, Barnett Fletcher

Promotions has been bought by McCann-Erickson, the international ad

group which has just restructured into seven ’communications channels’.

(’Barnett runs a very good business,’ says FMCG’s Cottman. ’I respect

that. He was either going to go to McCanns, or come here.’) As it is,

Barnett Fletcher’s eponymous agency has been renamed BFP Momentum. And,

rather like FMCG, it will act as a European beachhead for McCanns’

’experiential marketing’ subsidiary, Momentum. It, too, plans to offer a

wider range of below-the-line skills. ’The Momentum corridor encompasses

sales promotion, and McCanns is trying to acquire SP companies that will

fit in to that integrated role,’ says Fletcher. ’Now we want to get on

with becoming the world’s biggest promotion company. And the best.

Otherwise we have failed.’ BFP’s turnover is a fraction under pounds 6m.

Only half is from field marketing, however, and of this, approximately

half is from overseas.

- Much, but not all, of GSD Field Marketing’s growth since last year’s

table is the result of acquiring MML from Young & Rubicam, a deal which

has brought it the Pedigree Master Brands account. In a sense this is

against the general pattern, where it is the ad agencies that make the

takeovers. However, MML was possibly sitting a little uneasily in the

Y&R group, and was the only one to lose ground in last year’s table.

Meanwhile, GSD has also received approaches. ’We’ve had talks recently

with a couple of sales promotion agencies, but they came to nothing,’

says chairman and managing director Robert Gill. ’There are two or three

important points, and if it were just for the money, I wouldn’t be


First, we would want to be sure anyone who bought us understood what

field marketing was. Second, we wouldn’t want to be snapped up just

because we looked good value to an accountant. On the other hand, if

being taken over offered new opportunities, as when Omnicom took over

CPM, that would appeal.’

- Holmes & Marchant, the sales promotion, PR and design group, had a

subsidiary in last year’s table, but has withdrawn from the market.

This is only the second field marketing league table Marketing has

produced, and despite all the takeover and merger activity, it does

include a few more companies than last year.

Industry leaders estimate the total sector as being worth between pounds

150m and pounds 160m. The 21 companies in our table report a combined

turnover of pounds 133m - up 18% year-on-year.

The question remains how best to define field marketing. Rob Allen,

managing director of The Russell Organisation - a diversified group with

a turnover of pounds 9.6m - used ’a very conservative definition’, which

means his figures are not fully comparable with those submitted by a

colleague a year ago.

The key division is between long-term contract or strategic work, and

short-term, tactical applications.

The strategic side is by far the most important. Its roots are in

selling in products to retailers and merchandising - ensuring the

client’s products are on the shelves. However, auditing and information

feedback are becoming an important factor, and the demand for instant

data means a growing emphasis on use of computers and modems (see IT

panel, page 9).

Moreover, this end of the business is expanding out of its packaged

goods heartland into many other kinds of consumer products and services,

from sports goods to videos, financial services to utilities.

The tactical side is growing, too. This can cover short-term

emergencies, such as selling in a new product, but also embraces

everything from sampling to roadshows and other marketing events.

Developing events

’The events industry has seen a proliferation of agencies over the past

couple of years,’ says Jonathan Hall, managing director of Roadshows

Promotions & Marketing (RPM). ’This has been largely driven by demand

from clients, who have to use more targeted marketing tools and who,

like drinks and tobacco, face advertising restrictions. Larger ad

agencies and PR companies are beginning to strengthen their portfolio of

services through the inclusion of events departments or companies.’

Bob Ellert, chairman and managing director of Ellert Retail Operation

Services, says it is a nonsense to group the two, strategic and

tactical, together. The latter he describes as a ’body bank’, whereas

the longer-term strategic work is better classed as ’out-sourcing’ and

requires a calibre of operative indistinguishable from the client’s own


He has a point, in the sense that there is probably not a lot in common

between his own company, which is at one extreme of the

strategic/tactical axis, and roadshow specialists, such as CPM’s

Vandisplay, BFP Momentum or RPM, at the other.

If there is a common factor, however, it is the ability to manage


And though the bigger companies tend to work more in the contract area,

and the smaller companies are more tactical, many operate in both


Ellert is also right to say that out-sourcing is the very essence of

field marketing. Most FM companies have employees working week in, week

out for one client, and to all intents and purposes, they could be on

that client’s staff. To take a handful of examples from just one

company, FMCG has people working every day in British Airways uniform,

and others running petrol stations in Ireland for Texaco. It has ’sporty

youngsters’ training shop assistants on the finer points of Reebok

footwear, and ’active greys’ selling home contents insurance for


Utilities is seen as the next big area of expansion. Over the next few

years, consumers are going to have much more choice in terms of whom

they buy their services from, and this is provoking a scramble for the


CPM business development director Nick Fennell says: ’Almost everyone in

the industry has a gas client, and the same will happen with water.’

But, as Gill at GSD points out, the utilities sector is a classic

example of why field marketing staff have to be as skilled and sensitive

as those of their clients.

’We’re calling at households to explain the benefits of switching their

gas account to Scottish Power,’ he says. ’There’s a strong case for

face-to-face contact because many consumers, especially the elderly, are

confused about what deregulation means. We get questions like ’will it

mean changing the pipes, and will there be an increased risk of


’You can see that it requires a very sympathetic approach, and blue-chip

standards. It only takes someone to upset the mother of a local

councillor, and the bad publicity rebounds on the client.’

The fact that new types of client are turning to field marketing augers

well for growth. But it also means FM companies find themselves talking

to potential clients who don’t have the knowledge of field marketing

that would be taken for granted in a packaged goods firm.

Treading carefully

’When you take field marketing outside its FMCG heartland, you are

talking to companies who don’t really understand it, so it is not

surprising that they don’t want to go ’balls out’ first time,’ says

Eddie Phillips, CPM’s managing director. ’It is almost a question of

putting it in to test the market, perhaps in just a couple of


This has come as a culture shock to CPM, says his colleague, Nick

Fennell: ’A couple of years ago, if someone said they wanted a test, we

would walk away. But we now recognise that proving it will work can be

key to both sides.’

There is an issue in the industry over whether full-time or part-time

staff are best. Aspen Field Marketing has moved over entirely to

full-timers. Joint managing director Gary MacManus says they are better

educated; they’re put through the Chartered Institute of Marketing

course and get computer training.

This is an interesting stance to take, and it will be fascinating to see

what difference it makes. MacManus claims it stems directly from the

company’s positioning, which is about providing computer-based online


Industry leader CPM, on the other hand, claims to have looked fully into

the question, and found that its contracts increasingly want people for

18 to 25 hours a week, which also suits many of its workers.

’But I think the industry does itself a disservice when it talks about

part-time workers,’ says Phillips. ’That has a derogatory ring to


These are fully committed people who want a challenging job. The fact

they work four or five hours a day is better described as


Finally, it is worth noting some better-than-average percentage

increases from some of the smaller companies in this year’s table. Among

them are two Yorkshire companies: The Network and Teamwork Field


A specialist in the travel trade, The Network has benefited from cuts in

the sales forces of the package holiday operators. With ambitions in the

packaged goods trade, too, it forecasts a doubling of turnover by


Teamwork was founded in 1994 and already has major clients in Nestle

Rowntree and Nestle Fox Confectionery, and Silver Spring, maker of

Perfectly Clear. Growth this year is exceeding 1996’s 77%, says

commercial director Bobby Collins.


’We do everything now on a cost-plus basis, so it is an open book.

I think all of the big companies work this way. There is much more

frankness, and that’s the way it has to be.

’In the old days, an agency might quote a rate of pounds 60 per working

day, and it was its business how much of that the worker received. Now

we’ll recommend what should be paid to the field workers and field

managers, and charge clients a contribution to overheads, and a fee.

’If there’s a problem, it is that big companies, which wouldn’t dream of

running a team without proper management, are inclined to say ’If you

use such good people, why do they need managing?’.’

Robert Gill, chairman and managing director, GSD Field Marketing



’As much as 60% of the sales of a new video are made in the first week

of release, so most video distributors use field marketers to ensure the

retailers are giving their top titles the agreed display.

’A major entertainment company rang us one Friday evening, saying they

needed us to visit 1500 outlets on Monday, to ensure that a

free-standing unit they had supplied had been installed. And they wanted

the report by midday Tuesday.

’We hit the phones for the rest of Friday and all Saturday. We managed

to get to 1473 stores, and they got their report on time. We did this

four weeks on the trot, and it was covert - no one knew we were doing


Mike Garnham, managing director, Headcount


Retailers and manufacturers have embraced category management, which in

theory means shelves laid out to optimum designs. Keeping tabs on it is

something else.

Esso’s forecourt stores stock about 600 products in several


To keep its management and suppliers informed, it employs field

marketing firm FMCG to audit its shelves.

Every day, an FMCG employee will receive by modem the planograms for two

forecourt shops, selected at random in his or her area. The operator

then goes to the sites and conducts a full audit. The data is

transmitted back overnight.

Mike Cottman, FMCG’s managing director, says the software for the

touch-screen system used was written by the company in just six



The demand for faster and faster information means that all of the top

field marketing companies are heavily committed to computer


Aspen Field Marketing, for instance, will use laptops to make

presentations, or for retail training.

But some staff use Psion palm tops, and others a Casio palm top PC which

is not yet on the market.

Clients can access data online, and manipulate it themselves. ’They

particularly like a traffic-light system we use, which shows the data in

green when things are going to plan, yellow when there’s something that

needs attention, and red when there’s a real problem,’ says Aspen’s

joint managing director, Gary MacManus.

Ellert personnel have a user-friendly, pen-based system allowing them to

tick boxes or write numbers on screen. A modem link means they can be

briefed in detail before each call, and can immediately modem the

results to head office.

In contrast, GSD has issued staff with an 0800 number for the software

organisation RW44, which can handle thousands of calls


Data is phoned back and consolidated within ten minutes; it can then be

examined by clients such as Procter & Gamble and the BBC.

All of these systems represent huge advances on the paper-based systems

of a few years ago.

The one thing that is certain is that technology won’t stand still. CPM

managing director Eddie Phillips says: ’We’re looking at some very new

and sexy kit to come into operation early next year.’

Field marketing league table, by UK turnover

Rnk Consultancy               Turnover    Turnover       %     HQ  Field

                               1996-97     1995-96     chg  staff  empl-

                                pounds      pounds                 oyees

1   CPM International       42,426,000  39,566,000    7.23    250   1900

2   Aspen Field Marketing   17,489,000  14,714,000   18.86     78    590

3   FMCG                    16,117,000  14,371,000   12.15    100   1150

4   Ellert Retail

    Operation Services      10,544,000  11,882,000  -11.26     93   1285

5   GSD Field Marketing Grp  9,221,000   5,124,000   79.96     70   1900

6   IMP Face to Face         7,807,000   6,160,000   26.74     20    430

7   Headcount Field

    Marketing                6,391,000   3,421,000   86.82     38    750

8   Merchandising

    Sales Force              5,968,000   3,582,000   66.61     33   3500

9   CBA                      3,401,000   3,368,000    0.98     35    n/a

10  DSPS Field Marketing     2,820,000   3,045,000   -7.39     23    300

11  Carlson                  1,600,000   1,101,000   45.32     12    200

12  The Network Field

    Marketing & Promotions   1,510,000     934,000   61.67     25    800

13= BFP Momentum             1,500,000   1,118,000   34.17    n/a    n/a

13= Sue Quest                1,500,000   1,300,000   15.38     12    n/a

15  Roadshows Promotions &

    Marketing (RPM)          1,384,000   1,069,000   29.47     18    n/a

16  The Russell Organisation  1,200,00         n/a     n/a     65    600

17  QSMP                       950,000   1,200,000  -20.83      8    120

18  Face to Face               438,000     424,000    3.30      7    600

19  Teamwork Field Marketing   414,000     234,000   76.92      6    250

20  Retail Field Marketing     375,000     250,000   50.00      6    292

21  Zoo People                 283,000         n/a     n/a      8   1200

The big users

Rank  Sector                          Spend*

1     Food                             37.8m

2     Retail                           19.0m

3     Drink                            13.5m

4     Business-to-business             10.3m

5     Tobacco                           6.3m

6     Home entertainment                5.1m

7     High-tech and telecoms            4.5m

8     Financial services                3.2m

9     Pharmacy/medical                  2.6m

10    Other grocery                     1.7m

11    Utilities                         1.0m

* This table indicates orders of magnitude but understates the totals

because some respondents chose not to provide an analysis of their

clients’ spend by sector.


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