Below the line Agency of the Year

By The Drum | Administrator

September 24, 2004 | 12 min read

What a year. Bang, slammed the doors closed at KLP. Boom, Draft followed suit. The below-the-line industry in Scotland reeled in the reverberations. Two of its biggest players disappeared in a matter of weeks.

But no sooner had the doors closed on the two mighty network agencies than the doors of a number of new fledgling companies flew open, hungry for new business. A passing of age ...

Of late, much, much more has happened. (In no particular order) BOB opened. WWAV and DDB merged. Metis merged too – into sister agency 1576. Multiply launched and Leith Direct appointed an MD. So did WWAV.

Still keeping track? Meanwhile, Andy Carolan passed the managing director’s reins of his agency, Navigator, to Yvonne Hutcheson. But that was not all. Only U changed top brass too with Kai Ivalo out and Daniel Clare in. In the meantime, Jump Marketing rode out the embers of Draft, holding the Burger King business aloft.

Phew. Keep up.

And that was only to name a few of the developments within the sector in Scotland.

The below-the-line arena has been one of the busiest, re-aligning itself to capitalise on a newfound confidence in the market.

But it is not just agencies and people that have been hot-footing it about. Clients have been too. (Are you ready for it? Deep breath ...) VisitScotland went to WWAV (and BD-Ntwk), while Abbey, Jim Beam and Golden Wonder jumped on the Arc. BOB, still just a fresh-faced company, attracted a few names too – namely Glenmorangie, Kwik-Fit and Scottish Courage. And Burger King? Well, it tried Jump Marketing on for size... Meanwhile, following its appointment to the VisitScotland business, BD-Ntwk carried on working with Coors and Coca-Cola, to name just a couple. Speaking of Coca-Cola, Momentum continues to work with the soft drink giant too (as well as Nesquick and Direct Holidays) while Highland Meats beefed up the agency’s roster. Channel 4, Imperial Leather and Mitsubishi tracked down Kommando. VisitLondon and WWF Scotland (not the wrestling but the charity) boosted Leith Direct’s books. (Still keeping up?) OVD Rum was on the move. Metis was the destination, and BoS Business Banking had a look-about too, but decided to stay where it was. Metis again. Remy Martin, HBOS, ScottishPower, Scottish Widows and Dumfries & Galloway Tourist Board had one thing in common – Navigator. (And, last but not least, you can breathe in a tick) NTL and Marks and Spencers added another chapter to the ever-increasing Story.

Right, with that out the system, it is perhaps safe to say that this last year has been a busy one below-the-line.

As agencies continue to expand their offering, and with the blurring of borders (as well as our slight weariness of the “we don’t just do DM/SP, we offer a full below-the-line service” ear bashing that followed previous features) the Drum decided to combine the direct marketing and sales promotion categories to create the Below-The-Line Agency of The Year Poll.

To compile this poll, The Drum’s editorial team visited each of the agencies to ask them a list of questions, the answers to which were compiled to create the results that follow.

Agency MDs were questioned on their rivals, as well as on their own businesses, to offer a fair, and often frank, view of the marketplace in which they operate.

The answers help compile seven different categories, including Agency of the Year, MD of the Year, One to Watch, Peer Poll, Best for New Business, Most Innovative, and Up and Coming Agency.

Managing Director of the Year

Onwards then to that first category – Managing Director of the Year. It would be easier to say that this was a closely fought competition. However, speaking to those in the industry, it is safe to say that it wasn’t. With the movement in the market (John Young recently taking the reins at WWAV, Daniel Clare doing a similar thing at OnlyU and Navigator’s MD door revolving too – albeit internally) the choice of MD of the Year was narrowed, as newly appointed figureheads look to settle in their roles.

As such, after pitching the question to those in the know, there was really only one name on everyone’s lips. Following a year that has seen the agency push into new areas, even venturing above the line, completing brand-building TV ads for Clydesdale Bank, Story has grabbed the headlines. Led by Sue Mullen, the agency (and its boss) reaps the praises – albeit sometimes grudgingly – of its peers. Sue is described as a “formidable” leader, and someone who is prepared to push the barriers forward. It is her passion and skill, coupled with the strong creative output of the team she leads, that continues to break the mould of traditional below-the-line agencies.

One to Watch

One to Watch has a twist to it this year. In previous polls, the One to Watch category was used to highlight the agencies that look to be growing, agencies that have recently surfaced, and agencies that look to be doing something different. That has changed. The winners this year may be growing, and may be doing something different. However, they have all been around the block a good few times already. The newer, emerging agencies will feature in a newly created Up and Coming poll.

In joint third place in this year’s One to Watch category were Arc and Leith. With Arc still bedding into its new found global framework – over 40 offices in 35 different countries – the network will prove to be a strong drawing point for an agency that is already well established in Scotland.

Leith Direct is now in a position to storm forward, and with Ian White installed as MD, coupled with the clout that comes with the Leith’s name and resources, there will be many who sit up and notice as the agency’s Direct arm forges new lines forward.

In second place is 1576 and, until very recently, the agency formerly known as Metis. The last couple of weeks have seen the below-the-line arm of the agency fall back under the wing of the parent company, and the appointment of heavy-hitter Gary Smith. Both moves will help an agency that is already flourishing after only a handful of years in business.

Finally, topping this category is WWAV Rapp Collins. It has been all change at the agency following the departure of previous MD Marco Scognamiglio. John Young, formerly of The One Agency (and more recently MD of Wunderman in Amsterdam) took the reins. However, within a few months news filtered through that MA DDB, WWAV’s “sister” Omnicom agency, was to merge. After weeks of planning, the deal was complete. Young continues to steer the agency forward with the help of Sandy McPherson, MA DDB’s former managing director. The new, enlarged and, some might say, improved team has been working hard to make the merger work – and it looks to have done the trick. The combined client roster has been retained and, looking forward, the offering the agency now has is only going to get stronger still.

Peer Poll

What a tale. Set up only just over two years ago, the Story team was quick in establishing itself, in the eyes of its peers, as the benchmark for below-the-line standards in Scotland. Last year the agency was held in the highest regards by its peers. This year was no different. However, now, when you talk to traditionally above-the-line agencies they too are waxing lyrical about Story. Breaking conventional moulds – that usually see an above-the-line advertising agency branching into the world of below-the-line – Story has turned these moulds inside out as it challenges the ad agencies at their own game.

Industry observers have also admired Story for its constant creative edge, its ability to stand out from the crowd – bringing large pieces of business from England (NTL and Marks and Spencers Financial Services) to Scotland, while managing to maintain a high profile in both the press and among its peer group. It obviously worked.

Navigator continues to keep a high place in the poll, with WWAV, Leith Direct, BD-Ntwk and BOB also being admired by those in the business.

Best for New Business

It is a new team, launched less than a year ago, that has risen to the top of the pack in the new business stakes. In only a few months of business Multiply has won a bucketful of new business, including the Royal Bank of Scotland, Famous Grouse, Kleenex, Avon and a high-profile alcoholic drinks brand that will no doubt raise a few eyebrows.

Multiply was launched by the former KLP managing and deputy managing directors Mark Fowlestone and Kate Beck in January.

The agency, which already employs 18 people – many of whom previously worked at KLP, operates from refurbished offices in Rutland Square. The agency was founded as KLP was closed down in November as part of Havas’ global streamlining strategy, with around 40 jobs being lost.

Also performing above the average in the new business stakes this year was Navigator, picking up business from Remy Martin, HBOS, ScottishPower, Scottish Widows and Dumfries & Galloway Tourist Board. Story, too, won business that included NTL and Marks and Spencers Financial Services, with Arc securing Abbey, Jim Beam and Golden Wonder in fourth place in the poll. Fifth was 1576 retaining Bank of Scotland Business Banking, and winning Kwik-Fit Insurance and OVD Rum. WWAV was also admired in the new business stakes picking up business – most notably VisitScotland.

Most Innovative

In a market where every brand is looking for stand-out, innovation is often the key. So, for the first year of the combined below-the-line survey, The Drum has introduced a category for the most innovative agency.

Kommando has spent the last year grabbing headlines, trade and consumer alike, for its innovative antics.

Offering David Blaine a bath on behalf of a client, while he was locked in his glass box, is just one example of the lengths Kommando will go to get the message across. The agency has also launched a number of new client services, including 9mm (sponsorship), Komadic Media (people-mounted screens) and Moto Poster.

Also pushing the boundaries of innovation for clients who include Coca-Cola, Coors, VisitScotland and Arla was BD-Ntwk. The agency combines specialisms of design, brand strategy, corporate identity, packaging, digital media, PR and event, experiential and field marketing to deliver the right message in the most innovative way.

Also admired for its innovation was Momentum. The small team, which moved to Glasgow three years ago, having spent many years working from Edinburgh, has been dreaming up and implementing a range of campaigns for its clients, including the requisitioning of a replica European Cup made of ice to tour the finals in Portugal.

Up and Coming

With WWAV, 1576 and Arc all going through periods of change, it will be interesting to see who will come out strongest but perhaps it is also time to introduce yet another new category to the proceedings.

The question still remains: who, from the recently launched agencies, has really hit the ground running?

Well, with the experience that is behind a number of the new, below-the-line ventures (in a year that has seen far more development than usual, due, in part, to the closure of two of the biggest agencies) there is a lot of competition.

However, it is Ward Mulvey’s BOB that is attracting the chief plaudits. Having opened with a number of clients, including Scottish Courage, the agency has been on the new business trail this year, scooping worldwide work for Glenmorangie. The agency already employs 12 staff, from a starting ground of just one in November.

In second place is Multiply. As well as an impressive new business record since its launch in January, Multiply is branching wider. It retains the full-service offer of a conventional marketing communications agency, but couples this with a product incubation shop, where new products or ideas are developed and realised.

The last agency to be commended in this category was Jump Marketing. Formed by a team of former Draft employees, just before Christmas, Jump caused a bit of a stir when it emerged from the ashes of what was Draft Worldwide with the Burger King business. A coup perhaps, but can the team continue in the rich vein it started in?

Agency of the Year

This year, it was a two-horse race for the first Below-the-Line Agency of the Year title. Surprisingly though, many people’s favourite, Story, was pushed into second place – after topping the DM poll last year – by Navigator.

While Story has been seen by many as the benchmark in Scotland when it comes to breaking barriers and pushing forward, and despite bringing the Clydesdale Bank back to the TV after a number of years away, doing the agency’s creative reputation no harm in the process, it is Navigator who has been awarded this year’s Below-the-Line crown.

Navigator has been rewarded for implementing a successful internal restructuring, which saw Andy Carolan become chairman and Yvonne Hutcheson take the MD’s role. The agency has been expanding too, plumping up its planning division, among other areas. But, clinching it was a strong new business run that saw many national and international names look to Navigator for support.


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