Regardless of whether you control a seven-figure marketing budget or a one-off £5,000 project, the pressure to deliver the right message to the right target market is immense. And throughout any marketing activity you undertake, a number of key decisions will play their part in the success you achieve.
One such decision is your choice of agency suppliers. Should you use discipline specialists; all bringing their individual expertise and skills sets to the various ingredients of your campaign?
Or just one supplier, which can save you time by managing just one agency.
Each type of agency has their arguments as to which is the best at delivering a successful and fully-integrated campaign and for every digital, advertising, design or PR agency that believes more and more clients are using specialists, there’s a full-service agency that will serve up the contradictory argument.
So what should you do? Well, in the end, your choice is a personal one. It boils down to your personal preferences as to the way you like to work, the individuals you trust and want to work with, and your previous experiences.
In Leeds, the options are endless; from large, full-service operations such as Propaganda, Poulters, Brahm and Principles, to small design and digital firms, such as Lowd+Klea, Thompson, B&W Studio and New Media Collective.
Here, The Drum heads out to investigate the preferences of the marketing bosses that have used and continue to use some of the city’s leading full-service and discipline-specific agencies and, regardless of their choice, how they’ve worked to deliver a fully integrated and success campaign.
Hazel Arthur, head of marketing, Opera North
Agency: New Media Collective
“Every operatic production is a study in collaboration and a fully integrated experience and we need the same from our marketing activity. The music, the drama, the style and approach of the production lead the creative for Opera North’s marketing campaigns and communications.
Opera audiences range from afficianados to first time attenders so it’s vital for us to ensure that our communications excite and engage with their particular needs and preferences. Therefore, we always work with a range of local agencies who are experts in their field and who have the ability to work with us as well as each other. We look for passion and experience in the arts industry as well as an ability to work to tight deadlines with low budgets.
When it comes to new media, projects go to New Media Collective in Leeds because they are a bespoke company which is full of talent and experience. We also like our relationships with agencies to go beyond paid-for projects: they are invited to experience our work, discuss ideas and future plans and are always approached for advice and feedback. When other companies are involved in a project, there are joint meetings and a confidence that the broader relationship will be open and collaborative. Different agencies might work together on aspects of one brief but responsibilities and communication will be agreed at the beginning. Clarity on initial briefing, deadlines and budgets is critical along with regular updates on progress.
Opera North has a strong identity and is keen to take considered risks and try new things. The marketing team is the hub which ensures all the work has consistency (or individuality where appropriate), and that each part of the company’s communication is appropriate to its audience or the campaign as a whole. Consultation, review, feedback and regular contact combined with a common appreciation of the opera experience and the associated challenges in attracting audiences, work to achieve strong relationships and successful integration of campaigns.”
Gary O’Brien, marketing manager, UK Underwriting
Agencies: The JDA Group
“Working with The JDA Group and the full-mix of services it provides, ranging from print management, media management, advertising production and design, as well as a full compliment of interactive solutions and public relations services, is allowing us to look after our marketing and communications needs simultaneously.
JDA has a great understanding of our needs and the markets that we operate in. Moreover, because of its set-up as an integrated agency, The JDA Group can deal with, and look after our requirements within one meeting, instead of numerous meetings with different suppliers. A good case in point how an integrated agency like The JDA Group is proving so effective is by highlighting their current achievements – they are currently allowing us to develop our on-line presence across the group, while at the same time enabling us to obtain media coverage within our different market sectors. What’s more, if we needed them to, they would also be able to handle our media buying process, our advertising brief, as well as handling our print production. And this is why agencies that can offer an integrated service are proving invaluable. Because they can, at any time, pick up the ball by taking care of other services, while at the same time continuing to progress with current actions without loss in productivity, or the need to outsource the additional services to third parties – thus saving valuable time and cost.
There is no doubt that an integrated agency presents a number of benefits for the client, including access to experience and knowledgeable professionals, and even a cost saving benefits, because instead of working with two, three or even more agencies you only have to have one point of contact.
Agencies like The JDA Group in my experience recruit very skilled staff enabling clients to be presented with creative thinking and increased productivity, which directly supports both my objectives and the objectives of our customers.
More and more smaller, independent agencies are starting to see real value in offering a fully integrated offering to accommodate clients’ needs no matter which market they operate in. Agencies like The JDA Group are seeing real value by working with prominent, well established clients because they are able to not only offering integrated solutions, but more importantly, deliver value to the clients long-term business objectives and business ideals.”
Tim Wade, marketing director, Best Western Hotels GB
Agency: Lucre Communications
“At Best Western Hotels GB, we have found that using a variety of agencies enables us to devise and implement marketing strategies that really hit our targets.
For many working in our sector, integrated marketing campaigns have become the ‘Holy Grail’ and there is a common misconception that using multiple agencies will jeopardise this. To the contrary, we have found that there is a degree of synergy when different companies set their minds to the same task and the results we have witnessed support this.
What’s more, using specific agencies for PR, media buying and selling, search engine optimisation and other marketing activity means we can have a fleet-of-foot in-house marketing team whilst still capitalizing on the wealth of experience and creativity present in our retained agencies.
There is no doubt that capitalising on the specific expertise and experience of a variety of agencies enables us to keep at the forefront of all marketing disciplines.
The key is to task each agency with fulfilling a specific brief and then have the advantage of reviewing activity from a more objective viewpoint; something not always possible when working in house with people involved in all aspects of marketing.
What’s more, individual agencies are very focused on hitting the targets we set for each campaign and this, in turn, has led to award-winning campaigns and great results time after time.”
Ken Brook-Chrispin, CEO, Seabrook Crisps
“Seabrook Crisps has been in operation since 1945 and has never done any serious marketing activity until we engaged with Propaganda last year. We wanted to work with a full service agency because it is critical that all communications are in line with the brand, in tone and style, and driven by the business strategy and objectives. We believe that a true integrated agency is best placed to make this happen.
What we needed was a big idea. We knew that by giving the brief to Propaganda, we would be much more likely to get a single-minded proposition that is able to work effectively across disciplines than if we’d worked with several disparate companies. Separate responses from specialist teams can produce fragmented ideas that work well for that discipline but do not lend themselves to the broader communications mix. At Propaganda, the insights generated by their rigorous Discovery planning process are used by every team in the business. This ensures that each team approaches the brief from a solid foundation of knowledge, ensuring that all communications are on strategy and on brand.
At Propaganda there is none of the infighting that you can get between agencies in their respective sectors. If you use a set of agencies working collaboratively they will understandably fight for budget, even if this is wrong for our overall brand strategy. Propaganda is able to offer unbiased counsel and flexibility when creating the communications mix so that we can respond quickly to change as the campaign evolves.
I think that some integrated agencies simply pay lip service to the ‘integrated’ term and do a lot of things to a mediocre standard, with perhaps one particular area of expertise. Each communications discipline should be able to stand alone as an agency in its own right and also have the ability to work together effectively as an integrated group.”
Spotlight on Meadowhall
When Sheffield-based shopping centre Meadowhall was losing out to newer, younger retail offerings, it sought the help of Leeds-based full-service agency Poulters to help build loyalty among new and lapsed customers by challenging perceptions of the brand.
Meadowhall is a mature retail brand. At 15 years old it was showing all the tale-tale signs of its age. Its fiercely loyal customer base was stagnating and its broad market appeal was starting to be challenged by new younger retail propositions. With flattening visitor figures, overt competition from developed town centres and savvy shoppers with changing buying behaviour focusing on value and convenience, the brand needed rejuvenating. The brief was to find ways of locking in loyalty, stimulating new and lapsed users and challenging perceptions.
Like all good integrated campaigns it began with a big idea. Because Meadowhall is a place designed purely for shopping, it offers the shopper an unrivalled experience. A place where shoppers experience a unique shopping nirvana. A place we called ‘THE LAND OF SHOPPERTUNITY’. This positioning allowed the brand to present all its strengths under the umbrella of a destination created for the art of shopping. In turn this created a perception of a total offering dedicated to the shopping experience - a key point of difference from their competitors. Not only a place to come to but a place to keep coming back to.
The creative execution of the campaign was as integrated as the strategic planning was. Advertising on TV, radio, outdoor media and digital all carried the launch campaign messaging highlighting the centre as a destination in its own right. Direct activity focused on driving footfall with tangible reasons to visit (e.g. events). Every communication touchpoint in the shopping centre [from litter bins to shop fronts] conveyed a brand united in look and message.
Through using every touch point we created a communication experience that set apart Meadowhall from any other similar brand environment. As a result we became visible and meaningful at the same time. Footfall increased, frequency of visit increased and levels of expenditure increased.
spotlight on Zoflora
Achieving profile in the saturated home fragrance market is difficult, so when Zolfora wanted to interact with its audience, it turned to Leeds-based integrated agency, Principles, for help.
As there are many products that effectively kill bacteria, neutralise odours and/or fragrance the air in the room, it’s hard to gain standout. Triple Action Zolfora believes its USP is its fresh smell, and this year wanted to maximise consumer interaction with its product range, including the launch of the new Zoflora Antibacterial Bin Freshening Gel product in Rain Fresh fragrance.
Zolfora’s core user base has been females 45+ whereas NPD are trying to appeal to a new/younger generation of users (35+).
Over the last few years Principles Agency has run a combined TV and press campaign, both of which have driven awareness and sales uplift.
This year’s campaign aim was to deliver the fragrance into consumers’ hands, interact more with the core audience, encourage growth of new users and introduce the product to a younger audience.
The main challenge Principles faced was that it needed to get consumers to experience its USP, to really appreciate how good it is.
Principles started by designing new creative to give the product a fresh look and feel.
The agency embarked on an advertising campaign, utilising various different media routes to ensure the campaign targeted the right audience. A national interactive TV campaign was launched in June 2007 on terrestrial and MCH, ITV1, ITV2, ITV3, IDS lifestyle/home channels. Press advertising also hit women’s monthlies and weeklies, plus a new website was built. Online PPC and online display activity is expected to follow later this month.
The interactive element of the TV campaign has already delivered significant responses, and has brought in new users to help the brand grow. Viewers are given informative product information, along with the chance to ‘win a household cleaner’ for a year, plus a free Zoflora fragrance sampler as a reminder to purchase.
The press activity was in the form of ‘scratch and sniff post it notes’ for consumers to interact with the USP, along with helpful ‘tip boxes,’ which offered the consumers handy advice on how to use Zoflora around the home.
Both TV and press executions, along with the PPC/display online activity, directed customers to the Zoflora website.
The website intends to capitalise on the brand’s heritage and varied usage, to position Zoflora as the authority on good old-fashioned housekeeping with very credible hints and tips [capitalising on the mother knows best trend (e.g. Kim and Aggie, Nigella etc)].
The website allows the brand personality to come alive online and gives loyal Zoflora customers a place to visit, to experience and interact with the brand. The website will also drive research on the target audience through user generated content, and personal data-capture that will inform and drive future marketing strategy.
The site will eventually have two distinct sections; the ‘Zoflora House’ and the ‘Zoflora Magazine’. ‘The Zoflora House’ will provide product information utilising flash, to provide an engaging and intuitive experience. While the ‘Zoflora Magazine’ will be built in HTML to facilitate regular updates, with fresh content being added each quarter.
The unique thing about this integrated campaign is that it is really achieving multi-media cut-through and brand stands out in new media areas even though it’s only a disinfectant.
When Principles Agency first approached several media owners they were sceptical about adding interactivity to a household cleaner. However the response signs/sales are very encouraging so far. These responses will enable Zoflora to build a database of contacts and encourage a CRM roll out for future NPD.
Spotlight on Kingston Communications
When telecommunications firm Kingston Communications laid new high-speed cable throughout the city of Lincoln, it turned to Fifth Element – one of its incumbent agencies – to help achieve a dramatic increase in customers on the new network.
Kingston Communications (KC) had laid new high-speed cable throughout the city of Lincoln and needed to dramatically increase the volume of customers on this new network to meet demanding revenue targets. Awareness of KC in Lincoln was low – around 12 per cent (based on brand tracking research) so sales teams were finding results very hard to achieve.
The film of Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’ had recently been filmed at Lincoln Cathedral, gaining great local publicity. Fifth Element therefore captured this interest with an innovative campaign entitled ‘The Lincoln Code’. This was a highly integrated campaign that encompassed radio, press and ambient advertising to generate initial awareness of the campaign, prompting initial registration to an innovative brand building competition.
The Lincoln Code was a digital treasure hunt – each day a new clue was released to those participants who had completed the previous day’s clue. The answer was the location of the next clue – a new website, a voicemail box number, a SMS short code, an email inbox – the digital journey took in a full range of media, all pertinent to KC’s product offer yet highly engaging and capable of dispensing a powerful brand message. Digital became real when the final clue revealed a physical location (Lincoln Cathedral) and a race to the finish line took place, with a prime PR opportunity awaiting the winner (one of KC’s iconic white phone boxes was placed in the grounds of Lincoln Cathedral, creating a great photo opportunity for the local press).
On a modest campaign investment, the campaign shifted brand awareness from 12 per cent to 89 per cent of the broad target audience, with a significant increase in sales and an extremely positive return of investment.