Magazine article Marketing

Agency of the Year: Direct Agency of the Year - Partners Andrews Aldridge

Magazine article Marketing

Agency of the Year: Direct Agency of the Year - Partners Andrews Aldridge

Article excerpt

Negotiating a management buy-out and attracting talented staff are two ways that Partners Andrews Aldridge beat its competition.

At a time when direct marketing consultancies are being snapped up by marketing services groups, it is unusual to see an agency release itself from the shackles of a network. Given the upheaval that goes hand-in-hand with such a process, Partners Andrews Aldridge could have been forgiven for not performing as strongly on the existing and new business front. However, the direct marketing agency had its best-ever year - growing through significant new business wins, expanding organically and producing outstanding work for its clients. So the decision to award Partners the accolade of Marketing's Direct Agency of the Year was easy to make.

In 2004 the agency negotiated a management buyout, moved offices, won awards and poached staff while winning pounds 21m of new business. Its 37% incremental growth, from pounds 2.2m to pounds 3m, and 23% overall turnover increase, from pounds 3.4m to pounds 4.2m, look modest compared with bigger DM agencies. But in an environment where marketing groups wrestle over global integrated accounts, it is refreshing to see an agency step away from network politics.

Since the summer, when Phil Andrews and Steve Aldridge bought out French marketing services group Havas' majority stake, Partners has been able to provide an independent service to clients that span a wide range of industry sectors, from niche brands such as The Grove in Hertfordshire, a country retreat with all the trappings of a luxury London hotel, to premium car marque Lexus.

The pounds 10m RAC account was one of Partners' three wins of 2004. The fact that the pitch process was overseen by the RAC's commercial director, David Lewis, and its head of customer operations Ian Dobson is testament to how important the organisation views direct marketing as part of its strategy to close the gap on rival the AA.

Partners also picked up Lloyds TSB's pounds 7m insurance account, having already worked on its utility and telecom sub-brand, Ideal. To gain the insurance business Partners had to pitch against Lloyds TSB's other roster agencies, including WWAV Rapp Collins. The brief covers car, home, pet and travel insurance, and Partners' appointment reflects Lloyds' shift in emphasis away from advertising to a more direct strategy. …

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