Ian Wright, Managing Director,
I believe that the biggest issue facing agencies in 2004 was the same as it was in 2003 and probably will be in 2005, namely that of fair remuneration for the value that we can add to our clients businesses.
2004 was undoubtedly a better year than some of the previous years as there was more stability in the marketplace, however with margins continuing to be squeezed, it makes it difficult for an industry of our scale to truly invest in our people and in the future.
As part of discussions with one prospective client I was given some strategy and research papers prepared by a ‘consultant’. I read the papers a couple of times looking for some gems but couldn’t really find any. I must have missed something, I thought, and re-read them only to stumble across the consultants costs tucked in an appendice. Wow! I couldn’t believe what they were charging and they readily admitted that they couldn’t implement anything – they’d need to bring someone in!
So remuneration remains, for me, one of the biggest issues facing our industry going forward. But were there any highlights?
Of course there were.
There was some great creative work produced in Scotland – the Loch Ness Marathon Campaign for Baxters by the Union, Tennents Iceland by Newhaven, the Scottish Executive Healthy Living work and of course our own award winning work for Scottish Leader Whisky.
And talking of creativity, let’s continue to spread Scottish creativity; just because we are on the periphery of Europe doesn’t mean we can’t produce work to run in other markets. We can be a centre of creative excellence, much like Amsterdam or Barcelona. This year creative work produced in Scotland ran in Estonia and Croatia and probably lots of other countries, and there’s no reason why we can’t do more.
A change for the good (and the necessary) is the way that agencies are changing to reflect both media fragmentation and the proliferation of new channels.
And at the same time the newer agencies are starting to establish themselves on the marketplace which is a very healthy sign.
I doubt that the new business frenzy and scale of pitches of the early/mid 90’s will return, however this year saw the most eagerly awaited pitch for the ‘Scottish Executive and Partners’ and for those agencies that were lucky enough to win a place on the roster there is the real opportunity to shape Scotland’s future through these campaigns.
What I hope there is a lot less of, is small pitches run by junior clients with tiny budgets looking for a Nike or Tango solution. Oh, and 6 agencies pitching. Not good for anyone, especially when it takes weeks to get a decision.
So for 2005 lets continue to deliver real value and demonstrate the contribution we can make. We have people in Scotland who are as good as anyone in the UK.
And one last wish – a couple of big London/Southern based brands give Scottish agencies a chance.
They might just get a pleasant surprise.
Below the line
Managing Director, Navigator
Having been asked whether Navigator would like to submit some thoughts for the Annual Review of 2004, I did what every self-respecting MD in busy season would do – I delegated. The reason for this was very simple – I have two group account director’s who both have new and interesting viewpoints on what happened this year and I thought it would be interesting to hear what they have to say...
Karen Trickett, Group Account Director, Navigator
I came back to Scotland in March this year after a 10 year stint down south and boy has a lot changed.....
My first month saw me attending the Marketing Society Annual Conference and to my utmost surprise Jack McConnell was the opening speaker along with much flashing of light bulbs and a film crew. He was trying to launch his new initiative “Talent Scotland” but it was somewhat overshadowed by the hoohah over the Normandy Landings anniversary AND the announcement in the press that week of the dropping of the controversial “Scotland the Brand”. As my first foray into the marketing world in Scotland, this was a good initiation into the phrase “Scotland is a village” and how policy decisions are much more of a community discussion up here than they are down south, where politicians and their policies are at best tolerated and more often than not ignored.
I’ve now been up here for nine months and already there have been a fair few highs and lows – in the marketplace in general. Overall my impression of being “home” is a very good one, a far better quality of life, a community that supports itself both in the professional world but also the personal and a vibrant marketing scene, which is an unexpected but very welcome surprise. The perception from afar is that there is not much going on in Scottish marketing, but little do they know down south (nor did I know before March this year)... just how hotly is it debated and competed over!
So what has stood out in the last 9 months in the world of marketing in Scotland? Probably by far the best so far is Navigator winning BTL Agency of the Year which was toasted with champagne in the office, but at the risk of being called parochial after only 9 months in my Navigator chair, I would also say the launch of Saga FM is a major Scottish success and is growing audience share (including my parents) at a rapid rate of knots. The Scotsman adopting a new compact size has also grown audience which is good news for Scottish media and the appointment of a Scottish agency to the Sainsbury’s Bank business is nice to see.
Some of the lows by contrast have been the merger of Marketing Advantage with WWAV Scotland as the market continues to contract, albeit to a lesser extent thankfully than in England, the continued price discounting of alcohol brands resulting in lower marketing budgets (however, on a positive note, a cheer went up in Scotland when LVMH bought Glenmorangie and announced they were going to use their marketing to protect its premium positioning).
Saddest of all was the demise of yet another agency in Scotland when Bond announced their closure. Let’s hope that 2005 sees less of that type of news and more business heading back to the north.
Overall 2004 has been a great year on both a personal and professional level and it’s PHENOMENAL to be back in Scotland after all this time (even though I now can’t get that line out of my head!!).
Melanie Morris, Group Account Director, Navigator
I came back to work in June this year after a wee break to pop out baby number two. So, 2004 has been a great year for me too. I’ve settled back into a working routine that’s working for me and more importantly for my clients too. Isn’t that refreshing and something I couldn’t have said 5 years ago. It really is OK to breathe the words ‘work-life balance’ without P45 paranoia these days. In fact with my clients it is increasingly common to work with people who job share or work part-time at all levels, both male and female. With a little bit of planning and flexibility on both parts it really can work.
So back to business and ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ in the industry. Well happily I would say more highs seem to have grabbed the headlines, which is always a massive plus in our business. With our success predominantly sitting in parallel with the financial industry it could have been a different story and I’m sure some might be starting 2005 not feeling quite so confident. So let’s take a moment to raise a congratulatory glass to David Metcalfe being appointed as chairman of the DMA Scotland, Gary Smith returning to the scene at 1576, Story venturing down to the big smoke and ironically VisitLondon settling at The Leith Agency. Also, Kai Ivalo venturing into the client side at Scottish Whisky and the Marketing Society launching an awards platform for Scotland. Maybe they were inspired by Jack Black earlier in the year, remember, imagine yourself as a winner and it could be you!
So in true forecast tradition, that was all ‘so last year’, what about 2005? The word on the street is tentatively positive with talk of increased ad spend. I’m sure it won’t get any easier with ever increasing pressure for accountability and delivery. Can timescales really get any tighter for campaign production?
If I had one wish for 2005 it would be for a little bit more time and if I could only get it in one area it would be for the creative product. Obviously at home I would wish for an 8-day week and 3 day weekend!
So here’s to putting DM being voted the country’s biggest bugbear firmly behind us and ensuring our industry’s new year’s resolution is to focus on the targeting.
Adrian Searle, Director,
Looking back on the design year makes me superstitious. There’s so much in the business you can’t control and because Freight had another good year, I don’t want to tempt fate. I have an aversion to single magpies and a phobia of open umbrellas indoors, and I’m just as reluctant to be overly bullish about the year just past.
Saying that, 2004 was good to Freight. We’ve continued steady growth, for the third year in a row, increasing turnover by around twenty five percent and fee income by around thirty percent. It’s been hard graft for everyone and sometimes the work seemed relentless, but we’re not complaining.
There have been plenty of highlights. Personally, the publication of our third book, The Knuckle End, stands out. As a self-commission we had free reign and our designer, Alison Stewart, did us proud. Collaborating with the writers involved was rewarding and spending a day in an abattoir was an experience I’ll never forget. The book is selling well too. Other highlights include adding a great designer, Craig Bickett, to our team, and establishing good relationships with some new clients.
We’ve had a few challenges too, not least my fellow-director, Davinder Samrai, having a random piece of signage fall on his head. I’m pleased to say he’s still with us.
One of our regrets about being so busy during 2004 is that we have spent less time with our esteemed colleagues in the design industry. At Freight, we’re not the kind of guys who slag off others’ work to feel good about our own portfolio. Stand, Elmwood, Third Eye and ISO all continue to produce outstanding work that should challenge all of us to try harder. Pointsize, Pure and 999 (now with added Joe Hall) have continued to maintain the highest standards of professionalism. Having the chance to chew the fat with those who deal with the same issues day to day needn’t be a moan-fest and can be a real boon. I really hope we get the chance to spend more time sharing experiences over the next twelve months.
It looks like things will be just as competitive in 2005. A number of new players have joined the game in recent months, several run by experienced and talented names highly regarded by their peers. Campbell Laird, Gary Smith and Nick Cadbury will undoubtedly do great work at Three, while I’m sure that Keith Forbes and friends will be more than Good.
So far, I’m feeling positive about the year to come. I’m delighted that Susan Lachlan, ex-Black ID and Darwin, has joined us as business development manager. Susan knows the design industry inside out and is a great addition to the team. We’ve a number of meaty projects for existing clients on the slate in the coming months and some interesting new relationships just starting. We’ve also started planning our next self-commissioned project which, fingers-crossed, will be even more bizarre than the last.
But my superstitious nature is telling me not to be too upbeat. Tempting fate can be dangerous. We might incur the wrath of those gods of design. Instead, a dose of cautious optimism might be more in order. In which case, over to Corporal Fraser. ‘We’re all doomed!’
Chad Butz, Digital Account Director, bd-ntwk / Scotland
I’ve wondered how long it would take before the term “new” media became obsolete based on that it just isn’t all that new anymore. Perhaps 2004 was that point. More than in years past, digital technology and online marketing became less about buzz and more about something that you just do as part of your everyday marketing job. SMS and e-mail are regular mechanics in sale promotions, interactive demonstrations seem plain obvious in exhibition marketing, fewer companies fail to recognise that their web presence is a critical point of first impression and most wouldn’t even think of launching a new product into the channel without using some element of new media. And, who hasn’t started a blog this year?
Online advertising spend also came back in a big way this year, even with increased use of ad blocking software. Clients have been seen shifting offline spend into online and in many cases, the online component has become the lead mechanic within a given campaign. Creative thinking (i.e. less punch the monkey), new ad formats, more focus on relevancy and value to consumers, and better media buying are to thank for this comeback. It’s not just the spending that’s interesting though. More traditional businesses are buying into the branding and sales impact of online advertising – not just because it’s low cost but also because it’s a fast and effective way to reach some of their most valuable segments. The same arguments have driven the continued increase in search marketing over the last twelve months.
For businesses, implementing content management systems continues to be a major area of investment as marketers look to offer more value in the web content they publish and as IT looks to become more efficient. But frustratingly, the buying decision is made difficult as too many undifferentiated software providers remain in the market and while projects continue to run over time and budget as many realise that there is no such thing as “out of the box” software. Expect things to shake out in 2005.
Digital agencies are experiencing a bit of renaissance and this will continue. However, the expectations are much higher now. Agencies must be able to produce work that is creatively excellent, technically solid, while simultaneously taking care of essentials such as copywriting, accessibility, search engine optimisation, usability and of course, conversion rates. But even that’s not enough. Clients will not be bothered to deal with multiple agencies and they will look to those who are on board with the rest of the marketing mix. There is really no excuse for weak integration between online and offline marketing mechanics and clients will expect that agencies either produce integrated work in-house or work seamlessly with other traditional agency partners.
Maybe next year we can stop using the word traditional?
Julie McGarvey, Partner,
As we end another year of strong growth, I can’t believe 3x1 is approaching its fourth birthday. No longer the new kids on the block!
While we added some really good new clients to our portfolio, more importantly we focused on retaining the existing ones like Highland Spring, St Andrews Bay Golf Resort & Spa, Scottish Courage and Lees who have supported us tremendously over our first few years. We don’t believe in chasing new business to the detriment of loyal clients.
One of 3x1’s highlights was winning two awards for our Whisky Without the Waffle campaign – the IPR Excellence Best Use of Media Relations and PRide Award Scotland for Best Use of Photography. The campaign was great fun working with the maverick new whisky brand, Jon, Mark and Robbo.
We were also chuffed to squeeze into PR Week’s Top 150, which provides some national recognition as we handle a lot of UK campaigns.
It was another year of growth for IPR Scotland – the largest group outside London – enjoying a high profile events calendar and the inaugural PRide awards with Falkirk Council scooping the Grand Prix and countless gongs.
So who else had a good year? Congratulations to the winners of the Scottish Executive PR tender – The Big Partnership, Citigate Smarts, Barkers and Consolidated. In this climate it’s a godsend to get a three year contract so they should all be sleeping at well night.
Big continues to storm ahead and surprised everyone with the Catchline merger. Talking of surprises, Flora Martin, the grande dame of PR, amazed everyone with her sudden departure from Citigate. Mark my words – she’ll be back.
Gordon Beattie also surprised everyone by moving his HQ to London. Gordon’s a shrewd operator but it will be interesting to watch his progress in a more cut throat environment. A lot of London agencies have been moaning about another hard graft year with fees and margins constantly squeezed. The rise of inhouse comms teams has certainly had a greater impact down south with a lot of agency people moving over to the client side.
Memorable PR campaigns?
Effective home grown campaigns that immediately spring to mind are the launch of Saga Radio in Glasgow; eclectic Stobo cashmere campaign and somehow you just can’t escape the Royal Bank of Scotland branding at the airports, Murrayfield and so on. While their corporate and financial presence is well recognised, I’m not sure their customers appreciate what a global giant we have headquartered in Scotland.
It was a year to forget for Coca-Cola conjuring images of Del Boy and Peckham Spring on front page news with the Dasani disaster, which will go down in history as a classic crisis management case study.
With a lot of food and drink clients I like to keep a close watch on the retail sector so I was fascinated by Philip Green’s takeover bid for Marks & Spencer and it will be interesting to see if Sainsbury’s pulls back in 2005.
And finally it was a tough year for a lot of major food brands trying to reduce their salt and sugar content in the face of looming legislation to combat the obesity epidemic. Hopefully a lot of them will need some positive PR in 2005. If anyone wants 3x1’s phone number .........!
Morven Gow, Associate Director,
The Media Shop
High: newspaper format change for the P&J (who have dabbled with it), then the Scotsman (100 per cent change) in August, following the success of the Independent’s new format. The Scotsman had to try something to improve sales of the paper, and presumably hoped to ‘do-an-Indy’. The readership profile of each title differs, though. Has the new format turned the paper around?
Low: Latest ABC figures for November show the number of bought copies in Scotland at 50,107, down from 64,479 in August – a loss of 11,372 sold copies. This doesn’t seem to back up opinion that the format change has enabled the Scotsman to get a grip on circulation in its heartland. Of course, it’s early days yet, and a more consistent pattern will show itself after six months. At least the change revitalised interest in Scottish press generally, as the greatest speculation within the industry was whether the Herald would be first to go compact. In comparison with the Scotsman, ABC records the number of Heralds bought in Scotland as fairly static with a loss of 888 copies (1.1 per cent) between August and November. The Herald’s figure for November was 78,207 (ABC, full rate copies sold in Scotland).
High: the launch of SAGA Radio in Glasgow renewed interest in the radio sector. It appears to be carving out a niche for itself with advertisers and agencies and we await the first RAJAR with great anticipation to see if it delivers on the upmarket profile it is aiming for.
Challenges faced by industry?
Only six programmes managed to attract more than 15 million viewers in 2004. In 2003, 50 programmes recorded between 17 million and 20 million viewers. The difference is dramatic. The days when one programme could keep all the peoples of the British Isles glued to the screen in the corner, are gone. This influences all TV advertisers, of course. However, arguably, it impacts upon the media mix of a local advertiser to an even greater degree. A UK national advertiser can simply keep adding channels to their TV campaign. A local Scottish advertiser with a marketing area confined to the west of Scotland or the east, and for whom TV is a natural media choice, will find increasingly that their ability to reach an ABC1, light ITV viewer, repeatedly, becomes more and more difficult. There are no additional TV channels which they can add into their TV mix to suit their particular geography. The drive towards interactive TV is another route which is effectively restricted for them too. The challenge for us all is to find new ways for Scottish companies with a Scottish marketing area, to make use of the media opportunities available so that they are not disadvantaged by their tighter geographical area.
Dunedin FM being awarded the Edinburgh licence. In fact the broadcast area will mirror that of Radio Forth – 1.1 million adults aged 15 years plus – and so will cover Fife and the Lothians too. Although many of us thought that SAGA would be a good bet to scoop this licence to make a matching pair with the Glasgow licence, Ofcom decided to pick a radio station that certainly targeted an older age group (40+) but one that is speech-based. Are we to assume that Glasgow is more musical while Edinburgh have taken the crown of garrulousness from Glasgow?! Gunning directly for BBC Radio Scotland, Radio 2, Five Live and Radio 4 listeners, perhaps Dunedin will score a few direct hits when the BBC’s much beloved personality broadcasters are not on air. And Dunedin’s research indicates a disgruntlement at the lack of Edinburgh news items currently available from either Forth or BBC Scotland. Aiming for 12.5 per cent weekly reach in the broadcast area, we will have to wait a year until RAJAR gives us Dunedin’s actual figures – unless Mr McKenzie chooses to give us updates based on his independent research figures!