Neil Francis joins VCCP-backed direct marketing shop

Neil Francis, the former RMG Connect executive creative director, has been appointed as the creative partner of the new direct marketing agency which is being backed by Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest.

He joins the planning partner, Chris Whitson, and the managing partner, Ben Stephens, whose names were revealed in Campaign in October along with the plans for the joint venture, to be called Stephens Francis Whitson.

The new agency, which will be based in VCCP's offices in London's Victoria, launches with two clients. The first is Dyson, a shared client with VCCP; the second is Disney, which it won independently.

Francis joined Black Cat Direct, which later became RMG Connect, in 1997, following a stint at Wunderman Cato Johnson. He was promoted to become the executive creative director of the WPP-owned RMG Connect in November 2003.

As a copywriter, Francis aims to place more emphasis on the role of writing in the agency's creative product.

"Creatively, we're of the view that the importance attached to direct marketing writing has diminished too far," he said.

"So much work these days relies on image alone, which isn't enough with all the additional work that DM has to do in bringing the customers along the journey from awareness to purchase. The role of the writing is pivotal. It'll be at the heart of our creative solutions."