Winning pitches: Recommended Agency Register review 2011

From rewarding agencies for their work at the RAR Awards to working on fifty different client briefs, last year was a busy one at the Recommended Agency Register. Diane Young, director, and managing director Steve Antoniewicz review 2011 and look at what 2012 has in store.

RAR client review 2011 2011 was our fourth year in business and it was a big one for us. As well as launching our new website,, and producing our range of publications and events, we also worked on over fifty different client briefs. In both consumer and B2B these briefs spanned most of the major marketing services. Here’s a snapshot of some of these:
  • Sourcing a PR agency for a luxury consumer goods brand
  • Selecting a specialist provider for a CRM solution
  • Shortlisting digital agencies for a construction brand
  • Recommending direct marketing agencies for a charity
  • Selecting integrated agencies for a premium retail brand
  • Managing promotional agency selection for a global power tools company
  • Assessing integrated agencies for a financial services provider
  • DM agency shortlisting for a utilities company
  • Recommending agencies to a start-up in the fashion space
  • Advising a consumer brand on sourcing strategy
Though all of the above briefs are different by business category and agency services needed, what’s common across these clients is that they wanted to remove the risks involved in selecting a new agency.What’s the reason for this? Well, we’ve noticed in the last year that most marketing departments are expected to deliver more for less. Resources and budgets have been under pressure. So naturally most marketing teams do not want to take a chance of investing those valuable assets with the wrong suppliers.We think this approach will continue in 2012 and beyond. Inevitably some of the pressure is passed down the chain to agencies. Agency retainer fees are no longer standard practice, with many clients switching towards more project-led relationships. Many of our clients have already reviewed their whole supply chain, not just marketing, to make sure they are getting best value. And when the agency market is so competitive there’s always someone out there more willing to do a deal.Of course, now that the contribution of marketing to the bottom line can be clearly measured, the rewards from working with the right agency are also much more tangible.A good example of this was our work last year with Scottish Friendly. Working closely with their in-house team, we took on a strategic sourcing project which focused on their website and online marketing. Once we understood clearly what was needed, we identified candidate agencies with the skills and experience to match. Following a short selection process, recommended agency Line Digital was appointed and launched the new Scottish Friendly website in May. Scottish Friendly went on to pass their annual online target months ahead of schedule, so this review generated a tangible improvement in performance for them.Like a football club changing manager mid-season, changing agency is no guarantee of success. The secret is in choosing the right one! So if you’re planning to review your agencies in 2012, good luck. Or if you don’t want to rely on luck, give us a call on 0845 004 5626 or email us for more information.RAR agency review 2011 During 2011, the agency offering of the RAR has been improved, with the number of recommended agencies increasing by 40% to 822. This means that there is much better choice available to clients using RAR to search for agencies. Representation from agencies with a London base grew by 44% during 2011 and the first agency headquartered in Eastern Europe – a Czech branding agency – has just gained recommended status. Agencies that have been involved in the RAR are seeing clear benefits. Mick Stoves of Palmer Hargreaves has recently been pitching through the RAR consultancy service and commented:“Our UK managing director was contrasting the way this pitch has been run with the often confused approach we see elsewhere. The process has been smooth, the interaction with client sensible and the brief clear. So, win or lose, it’s been far less stressful than the usual pitches - which does allow agencies to do their best work.”The online facilities for agencies have been upgraded with the launch of the new website and they are now able to display more information to help clients make a choice about them. There are also new social media options that can be used to promote the content on RAR web profiles.RAR’s two annual books were published – the 2011 UK Directory in January and the Little Book of Great Agencies in June. London-based agency ODD were delighted with the response they got to their advert in the Little Book. Simon Glover of ODD commented, “We’ve received an incoming call from a major drinks brand and we are currently in talks with them.”RAR Awards 2011The RAR Awards for best customer ratings took place in London in March this year. IAS B2B Marketing and Turnkey dominated the awards for the second year running, both gaining excellent scores from a wide range of clients. Intermarketing, Multiply UK, Thinking Juice and G1 Creative also achieved excellent results at the Awards. Over 100 recommended agency people gathered in London to find out the results, meet each other and hear our guest speaker Paul Lawton, former CEO of TalkTalk Business. The deadline to get ratings in for the 2012 Awards is 14 February.RAR Top 100 Agencies Outside LondonIt was nearly all change with the RAR Top 100 this year with 60 new entrants to the table, which compares the business performance of agencies based outside London. Two of these new entrants took the top two places – Fresh Group at number one and HPS Group at number two. McCann Erickson Communications House stormed up the table from number 45 last year to take the third spot. Overall the size of the agencies on the table was considerably bigger than last year, with the average turnover rising from £5.6m to £8.1m. The 2012 Top 100 will be published in December 2012.Top London Independent AgenciesPublished in May, this was RAR’s first detailed report on this important group of marketing businesses. Digital agency Agenda 21 topped the inaugural table with Live and Breathe coming in a close second. The average turnover of agencies in this league table was £7.9m. The Top London Independent Agencies 2012 will be published in May.

RAR Directory and The Little Book of Great Agencies

A selection of RAR clients

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