Magazine article Marketing

Agencies with an Attitude

Magazine article Marketing

Agencies with an Attitude

Article excerpt

Ask an agency -- any kind of agency - what distinguishes it from its competitors and you've given them a cue for philosophical outpourings and outbursts of pomposity. But there could be greater mileage in seeing how they are perceived by their nearest rivals -- which is the theory behind this article.

On one level, it's means to be a bit of harmless fun, an opportunity to discover how readily, given the opportunity, direct-marketing agencies would take the opportunity to stab each other in the back. But it also has a serious purpose.

Client marketers receive a constant flood of mailshots and phone calls from direct-marketing agencies -- and most other kinds of marketing services. Most of it must fail to make an impression, because market research over the years has generally shown that -- ad agencies apart -- clients usually have great difficulty naming more than one or two consultancies in any field.

Last year, for instance, Aspen Direct commissioned research involving interviews with 50 client companies. Just under half the sample came from financial marketing, and the remainder from packaged goods, travel and leisure, retail, IT and telecomms, and business-to-business. An made significant use of direct marketing, including direct mail, response advertising, and inserts.

Spontaneous recall was really very low. If you deduct from the sample the number actually using a particular agency, the top scores were 7 for Brann, 5 for Wunderman Cato Johnson, 2 each for WWAV Rapp Collins, Aspen and O&M Direct. Quite a number chalked up negative scores -- which I suppose means that there are people out there who can't remember the names of the DM agencies they use!

Admittedly, spontaneous and prompted recall, taken together, give a more respectable picture. Again, deducting the numbers using specific agencies, the top net scores were O&M Direct 39, Wunderman Cato Johnson 37, Brann and DMBB/IMP 36, Aspen Direct 34, Amherst Direct and Chapter One 30, Barraclough Hall and WWAV 29.

As supporting evidence, Aspen's managing director Steve Butler recalls an occasion when his agency resigned an account because of client conflict. "The parting was amicable," says Butler. "And because of that, the client confided that he could only think of two agencies that might be suitable to replace us -- so could I advise him of some other candidates? …

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