Burker King work by Jump MarketingAnd so the hunt begins, once again, in earnest to find the agency that is worthy of the title of Below-the-Line Agency of the Year. This year the field is wide open, following a tumultuous 12 months, which has witnessed the closure of two of the industry’s giants - KLP Euro RSCG and DraftWorldWide and the merger of Advantage DDB into its sister agency WWAV Rapp Collins.
Now their succesors are battling forth, all doing great work. In a change to previous year’s polls, the quest to find who will take the coveted prize has been lengthed. Here, in the first stage of our review, The Drum has profiled some of the main contenders for the prize, while in a later edition of the magazine, we will reveal the results of our editorial and peer polls, to reveal who has won the title of Below-the-Line Agency of the Year.
The last twelve months have been all go for Edinburgh-based Arc. Not only has the agency moved to new premises on Broughton Street, but the re-aligning of its global parent company has seen a worldwide re-branding of below-the-line agencies under the Arc banner. Following this, the agency now has 42 offices in 35 different countries. “It’s interesting that in the last year we’ve seen two global networks pull out of Scotland, whereas ours has invested,” says managing director Joe McAspurn. “The fact that the whole group is buying into Arc’s philosophy of driving results is good for us. It shows us we must be doing something right.”
In Edinburgh Arc has also been keeping busy by expanding its client list to include names such as Abbey, Jim Beam bourbon and Golden Wonder, while carrying out a number of campaigns for existing clients Maxxium, Absolut Vodka and Scottish Mutual.
As well as expanding outside of its core specialism of drinks marketing, the agency has also been expanding its client offering to encompass new media, design, direct marketing and even some above-the-line advertising, as seen in the recent Belhaven outdoor campaign.
The past year has been a rollercoaster of a ride for managing director Ward Mulvey. Twelve months ago he was managing director on the sales promotion end of Draft WorldWide. Now, he is managing director of his own start-up company BOB – Draft being a distant memory in most people’s minds since its closure at the end of last year. For Mulvey, the experience of the past eight months has been one to relish: “We have grown organically and really made the most of the clients that we have.”
He continues: “The whole philosophy of the company is to really offer the best of both, from strategic thinking and planning to the creative work that we do for our clients. That means that we can keep costs down and really look to improve on the benefits of the clients.” Current clients for the agency include the recent Glenmorangie worldwide CRM account win, Kwik Fit national promotions and incentives and Scottish Courage. The company has expanded greatly over the past eight months, growing from one person in November of last year to twelve currently, with the agency expanding even further through recruitment. Ambitions for the next twelve months, according to Mulvey, include expanding the size of the company both in terms of people and office space, along with offering the same value for money that the company was founded on – “quality planning and creative combined with lower overheads and value for money.”
When Stuart Gilmour left BD NTWK over 18 months ago, rumours abounded as to how the company would survive the departure of the design element. However, following the appointment of Derek Sneddon, who previously worked at KLP in Edinburgh, the firm’s Glasgow office has gone from strength to strength. The company currently works with a variety of brands, including Arla, Coors Brewers, VisitScotland, McCain and Coca Cola. BD NTWK managing director for Scotland, Claire Hardy, admits that the market sector has been tough over the past year, but the company is really beating the odds with the work that it is currently doing. She comments: “This past year has been a really successful one for us. Over the past year-and-a-half we have added fifteen new recruits to the company and at the end of last year we moved offices, which again, I think, has really benefited the staff.
“We have also been awarded Investors in People, which is a huge boost for the company and the ambitions for the next year are to really grow, both within the company and also our client list. We want to really show that we are a strong agency that wins creative awards, new business and new staff and really keeps a happy balance between them all.”
Ann Duncan, Derek Cotter, Reg Young and Moyra Harvey launched jump Marketing before Christmas last year – all predecessors of the now defunct Draft office in Edinburgh – after successfully landing the Burger King account, an account that previously lay with Draft. The company currently employs eight full-time members of staff, along with one part-time member. Along with Burger King, the firm’s clients include Belhaven Breweries, Cariel Vanilla Vodka and Grampian Country Food. “The past seven months have really flown by,” admits Harvey. “We are working with our clients on a variety of new and exciting projects, along with also looking for new business. The market is getting smaller in Scotland and I think that you have to look outside of the country for clients, which is something we are constantly doing. We don’t want to treble the size of the company in a year. Instead we would like it to grow organically and want to consolidate the past seven months with one or two new pieces of business within the next year.”
After only two years in business, Kommando has succeeded in grabbing headlines, trade and consumer alike, for its off-the-wall reputation.
In the last year the company has handled new projects for, amongst others, Imperial Leather (for Foamburst), Channel 4 (for “Black Friday”), Mitsubishi and Scottish Leader Whisky (which involved a hijack of the David Blaine stunt in London).
The agency has also set up an office in London and moved its Glasgow headquarters into more spacious accommodation.
All this while also managing to launch a number of new client services, including 9mm (sponsorship), Komadic Media (people-mounted screens) and Moto Poster (motorcycle-towed poster sites).
Kommando currently employs eight full-time staff across both its offices, with around 3,000 freelance promotions and acting staff employed as and when they are required. Says Kommando managing director Mark Evans: “We don’t need 40 people when eight will do.”
Ian White has been head of direct at The Leith Agency for an admittedly hectic year now, having joined from WWAV, where he had held the position of senior account director.
This year, at Leith Direct, there have been pretty big goals set for the team, which has been working quietly, but very busily, trying to meet and beat these goals. And so far, says White with a grin, “these targets are being met ... and exceeded.”
When White joined a year ago, there were six members of staff, all former One Agency employees. And it is that small team that White credits with keeping the business going for the six months prior to his appointment, following the closure of One Agency.
“Lisa Ferrara and the team worked so hard to make sure that Leith Direct remained a feasible offering from Leith. It was that small team that initially set the direction and grew what remained of the business.”
Now Leith Direct employs 15 staff and White admits that, at times, that team is already a little stretched.
The DM staff, at Leith, are interspersed throughout the agency, working with the above-the-line staff on a day-to-day basis, sitting in either the creative, accounts or planning departments – meaning there is no physical isolation from the rest of the agency ... and this policy seems to be working well.
The Direct arm now works with Standard Life Bank, VisitLondon, Standard Life, Velux, Scottish Friendly, WWF Scotland and Children First, to name a few, with 50 per cent of Leith Direct’s business coming from pure DM business, and the other 50 per cent coming from existing Leith clients.
“Having the Leith brand can help a lot,” says White. “It installs client confidence. The Leith is a huge player, and I think Leith Direct can offer something more than you would expect from a DM agency, perhaps in terms of experience and understanding of a brand.”
Not everyone in the below-the-line industry would make the same claim, but for Metis it’s been a good year.
Following the departure of managing director Kenny Stewart last March, the team has focused on consolidating the business.
Metis, which is now headed up by Joanna Forster and Alan Nicholls, both founding partners of the firm, with David Reid as its chairman, employs ten staff.
Offering a multi-disciplined range of services, including events, SP, DM and PoS, the Edinburgh-based agency got off to a good start to the year, winning business from Kwik-Fit Insurance.
This winning streak was added to when Metis retained the Bank of Scotland Business Banking account (now the Bank of Scotland Corporate) In April.
On top of these wins, the agency has been busying itself with a raft of work for the Scottish Dairy Milk Council and Scottish and Newcastle International, with whom they work across a portfolio of brands, including Fosters, Beamish and Kronenbourg – and helping push Newcastle Brown Ale into Europe and strengthening its position in the US.
Also, more recently, the agency has won business from First Drinks, in the form of OVD Rum, in a pitch against rival firm Bluechip Marketing.
“The team has remained stable over the last year,” says Nicholls. “Clients like to deal with the people who pitch and win the business on a daily basis,” he continues. “That is where we are strong. You can’t underestimate the power of having a creative at every meeting. It removes the Chinese whispers and there is never any misunderstanding as the brief is tackled.
“We hope to grow, and we will be expanding soon, given the business that we have brought on board recently. All the hard work is starting to pay off.”
Momentum has been based in Scotland for the past three years. While the company might employ over 120 people in their headquarters in Stockport, the Glasgow office is marginally smaller, with three people managing the Scottish accounts. Clients within the Glasgow office include Coca Cola, Nesquick, Direct Holidays and the recently won account, Highland Meats. For director Allison Hay, the past twelve months have been spent consolidating the business that they currently have: “I think it has been a tough twelve months for the industry as a whole, and most people would agree with that,” she comments. “But we are working constantly with our clients, and that keeps us very busy, and we are looking at new business all the time.”
While Hay admits that it is still a very small operation in Scotland, she is adamant that the company won’t expand just for the sake of it. “We bring on people when we need them for particular jobs. I think that the plan in the next year or so would be to expand the business but, at the same time, we admit that we will never be as large as our headquarters. We don’t want to bring people on for the sake of it but, at the same time, when and if we need more quality people then we will bring them on to do the job.”
Navigator Responsive Advertising
2003/04 was a year of change at Navigator Responsive Advertising. Founder Andy Carolan moved upstairs as chairman and chief executive and handed the MD’s reins to Yvonne Hutchison in December. But while many agencies have been finding it hard going, Navigator has continued building its solid business base. Adding to clients such as The Famous Grouse, Scottish Enterprise, Highland Park and De Vere Hotels, the agency has this year picked up new clients such as Remy Martin, HBOS, ScottishPower, Scottish Widows and Dumfries & Galloway Tourist Board.
Navigator has also built its team with additions such as Karen Tricket from EHS Brann, senior planner Jill McLennon and data planner Evelyn Noble to boost the agency’s strategic planning team headed by Morag MacLeod, taking the agency’s staff numbers to 44. A high point in the last year was winning a John Caples award in New York for its Highland Park work and the agency has also been involved from day one with a major new leisure complex being developed by De Vere in Loch Lomond.
Carolan says: “The most positive thing is we are getting more business from existing clients. They are finding more money because they are making more money. The agency has never been stronger and to achieve 17 per cent growth while the industry, in general, is finding it tough is very pleasing.” In the coming year Carolan and Hutchison are set to continue looking for areas of expansion for the agency’s products and say that partnerships in the new media field is one area they are looking closely at.
Again, like Navigator, the last 12 months has been a period of great change for OnlyU. The founding managing director Kai Ivalo, who opened the agency in 2000, announced his intention to leave the agency at Christmas, but before he left in June he helped parent company The Union appoint his successor, in the shape of Daniel Clare. Clare took over the reins after joining from Sure Total Solutions and in a short period of time Ian McAteer says he has made quite an impact on how the direct marketing agency will develop in the coming year.
Founded on the back of the Intelligent Finance business, OnlyU’s first two years were exceptionally busy, but over the last two years its profile has fallen somewhat, which is something Clare is aiming to turn around.
First, Clare is going to ensure that the agency taps into the clients that parent company The Union has on its books. So far, inroads have been made into the Scottish Executive, Baxter’s, Historic Scotland, Buildstore and Sterling Furniture.
Already, OnlyU, which employs 10 staff, is working on a broadband mailer for the Scottish Executive and an autumn campaign for Buildstore.
An upbeat Clare says: “The market is certainly improving and there is no shortage of opportunities for DM companies. I suppose we have a captive audience with The Union’s clients, so we are going to take advantage of that relationship. That said, we are looking for our own clients also.”
Something Clare also wants to focus on is the creative output of OnlyU. He says: “The Union is renowned for their creativity and that is one area that I want OnlyU to be recognised in. In the past, the creative product has perhaps not been good enough. If we are going to be as successful as we want to be we have to improve on that. I have certainly been encouraged by the creative team we have here.”
So this is a new dawn for OnlyU and Ian McAteer has great faith in the agency: “In a year’s time I want OnlyU to be up there alongside Story and Navigator. With Daniel’s leadership I am confident that we can do that.”
Two years ago Sue and Dave Mullen told The Drum over coffee at the Malmaison that they were going to launch a new kind of agency. It was not going to give clients just DM solutions but creative solutions that could be rolled out across the whole range of marketing disciplines. Hence, Story was born. Two years later, and with a staff of 30, the Mullens have achieved far more than even they thought they would in such a short space of time. Turnover this year will be £3.2m, with profits of £1.1m and projected turnover next year is £4m.
The agency launched with an enviable client list that included First Direct, Curtis Fine Papers and the National Australia Group, which owns the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks. This year the agency has added Marks & Spencers Financial Services to that list as well as adding the English part of NTL’s business to its books. The high point of the last year for Story was putting the Clydesdale back on television for the first time in ten years, something which Sue Mullen says was not easy, but worth the sleepless nights, as research has shown that awareness of the Clydesdale in Glasgow is up 8 per cent and calls to their call centre are up 300 per cent. Not surprisingly, creatively the agency has again raised the bar and this year enjoyed five Gold awards at the DMA awards for Ardbeg, as well as ECHO awards for Ardbeg and Velux and an award at FEDMA for Velux. The next chapter for Story could see expansion outwith Scotland but, like the next Harry Potter instalment, we’ll have to wait and see on that one.
WWAV Rapp Collins
One of the biggest developments in the Scottish below-the-line industry in the last year was the coming together of WWAV and MA DDB.
One of the biggest feats was making it happen successfully. And that seems to be just what John Young, recently appointed MD, and Sandy Macpherson have achieved. It is not until 1 October that the world will be formally introduced to the “new WWAV”. However, Young says that initial plans are going well: “I’ve spent the initial weeks in meetings. But they have been very constructive and I’m very encouraged by their outcome.
“We’ve spent a good deal of time with our heads down, getting the infrastructure right, and getting the culture right. But one of the most encouraging things is that no clients have been lost in the merger and it is now an even stronger offering that we have.”
Macpherson (formerly managing director of MA DDB) and Young work very closely together (literally too, sitting next to each other in the large open plan offices in Leith) to push the new business forward, servicing a long and prestigious client list including Scottish Friendly, Tesco Personal Finance, Scottish Widows, Standard Life, Learn Direct, VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise, The Macallan, Drambuie, SSPCA and Scottish Rugby, to name a few.
Following the winding-up of the Oneagency, where he was MD, Young spent a year in Amsterdam heading up Wunderman, but he secured his dream move to WWAV in Edinburgh when Marco Scognamiglio moved south to lead the London arm of the business.
“I’ve worked at a lot of start-ups and through mergers – including the merger that created Claydon Heeley Jones Mason,” continues Young. “But this one, between WWAV and MA DDB, has been the most successful that I have ever experienced. We have worked hard to make this work, but we have to keep looking forward, and keep talking to staff and clients alike. The focus on clients and the focus on people internally is so important ... so much more important than the PR and the spin that we put on it.”