Magazine article Marketing

AGENCY 2002: New Media Agency of the Year - Agency Republic

Magazine article Marketing

AGENCY 2002: New Media Agency of the Year - Agency Republic

Article excerpt

Agency Republic's approach to online marketing has been to integrate ideas across all media in a bid to boost its diverse portfolio of clients.

As befits the interactive medium, Marketing's New Media Agency of 2002 is an inherently dynamic player.

Agency Republic claims to have coined the expression 'permalancers' - its pool of retained, regular freelancers who work alongside full-time staff to provide a range of skills and work on specific projects. The model keeps down overheads and aims to foster a fresh appetite for new work.

Omnicom-owned Republic is the offspring of digital marketing firm Agency.com and direct marketing agency Claydon Heeley Jones Mason. It is not a pure new media agency. Its philosophy is that interactive marketing should be tightly integrated into the wider media mix if it is to be deployed to best effect. Republic provides online marketing, media planning and buying, and offline creative services when client needs arise.

BT, Britain's biggest online advertiser, appointed Republic in the autumn, initially to get consumers to sign up to broadband, before handing it the bulk of its online consumer marketing activity.

In July, the agency scooped the entire marketing and communications business of Samaritans, beating off WCRS and Ogilvy & Mather, which ended O&M's ten-year reign on the account. The Samaritans work exemplifies Republic's approach of integrating ideas across all media. The online element of the task is central to Samaritans' mission and Republic's appointment.

The charity wants to distance itself from associations with suicide and reposition itself as a brand that stands for looking after people's emotional needs. In doing so, it has just completed a brand overhaul and ambitious web presence that seeks to engage online with 18- to 24-year-old males - a group that is seen typically as emotionally reticent but technologically literate.

Appointments in late 2001 to be the digital agency of record for O2 and Xbox have been strengthened and formed the bulk of ongoing work this year.

Confidential statistics shown to Marketing show that O2's cost per acquisition is running dramatically below its target and is driving media spend from offline to online. This year its brief extended beyond online creative to online media, as well as some radio and press work.

Republic has driven Xbox's CRM activity and last month kicked off an entertaining pan-European campaign at www.konsolekorner.com/uk, e-mailed to 800,000 people identified as prospective Xbox buyers. It was further commissioned this year to redesign the console's brand showcase site playmore.com.

It has also developed through-the-line communications for Boots' Pure Beauty chain and Sue Ryder Care. Republic is involved in a number of other integrated pitches. 'A bespoke team will always include people with advertising, direct and digital expertise, which means our clients don't get blinkered self-reverential wallpaper,' says Republic managing director Martin Brooks.

'We put more consumer insight and creative energy into a banner ad than most above-the-line agencies put into a press ad.'

It might attract criticism for its cocksure, even arrogant attitude, but the two-year-old agency stands out for a self-belief and genuine excitement much needed in an industry still reeling from the after effects of the dotcom crash. Republic forecasts new media-related turnover to be up nearly 60% from last year's pounds 8.9m and expects net profit to treble on last year.

Its major fee-paying clients are concentrated in the telecoms and technology sector. Arguably these are the brands that have the most to gain from effective use of interactive media. The coming years will show whether Republic can convert a more diverse range of clients to its media-neutral approach and mature into a genuinely sector-neutral agency.

ZENTROPY PARTNERS

Marketing's New Media Agency of 2001 has enjoyed a solid 2002, consolidating relationships with key clients, chief among them Unilever. …

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