Few direct marketing agencies demonstrated the zeal for new business and commitment to creative innovation that TBWA/GGT Direct demonstrated in 2002. As the advertising market plummeted, GGT Direct was among the leading DM players to shout from the rooftops about the growing importance of the medium to some of the UK's most talked-about brands.
Financial services continues to remain one of the biggest spenders on direct marketing, and a strong new business performance in this sector helped TBWA/GGT Direct achieve impressive growth in 2002.
The agency, which already boasted agency-of-record status on the NatWest £20m direct marketing account, recorded wins for brands including Marks & Spencer Financial Services (M&SFS) and Eagle Star during the course of the year. The M&SFS task involves launching its savings and investment products at a time when the company's portfolio is under review.
New business was not restricted to the finance sector, however. GGT Direct also picked up the brief to launch the web site for Cadbury Trebor Bassett's Heroes brand, Apple's European online advertising, a customer segmentation project for Air Miles, and the direct marketing and digital account for 3, the 3G phone network about to be launched by Hutchison.
Perhaps the most impressive win was an assignment from Marks & Spencer to oversee the DM launch of its credit and loyalty card, one of the most radical marketing initiatives in the retail giant's history. The brief included brand development and strategy as well as media planning.
While the agency's management would not claim to have had everything its own way, an anticipated rise in gross profits to £17.3m in 2002 highlights the company's prowess at growing business incrementally as well as forging new client relationships.
New long-term contracts are in the process of being agreed with NatWest and Vauxhall, two of GGT Direct's largest and longest-standing clients.
In many respects, though, what makes GGT Direct stand out from the below-the-line crowd this year has been the strength of its strategic and creative work as it strived to help its clients carve out distinct niches in often predictable marketplaces.
The relaunch of the Prudential brand in the autumn underlined GGT Direct's ability to work as a leading communications partner alongside brand advertising and media strategy agencies. 'The Plan from the Pru' campaign featured a massive DM spend, which GGT Direct integrated with the above-the-line work created by WCRS. Under the creative guidance of Nick Moore, campaigns for Unicef's Omo Water Appeal and the Vauxhall GM Card transcended conventional assumptions about charity and finance mailings. The year's other creative highlights included a mailer for NatWest designed to resemble a jeans pocket.
GGT Direct also ends the year as one of the most frequently decorated direct shops of 2002, with triumphs including a Bronze at the Creative Circle, Bronze and Silver Lions at Cannes, and recognition at D&AD. In the US, the agency recorded wins at the Caples and Echo Awards for Unicef and News International.
At the DMA/Royal Mail Awards, GGT Direct won Golds for its Unicef Waterpack campaign and Condor Post Production. The agency also picked up four Silvers for the same clients and a Bronze for its News International work, which aimed to engage Sun and News of the World readers by promoting popular areas of the newspapers.
Chief executive Mike Cornwell and managing director Penny Reid have also spearheaded GGT Direct's integration of digital communications into its overall offering to provide the agency's clients with a more holistic package. The duo pride themselves on GGT Direct's data department, which boasts 30 staff, and the eight-strong planning function, which it hails as the best in the industry. In tough times, GGT Direct has sold itself on the strength of its strategic thinking.
KITCATT NOHR ALEXANDER SHAW
For an agency that only launched in its current guise a year ago, to be a contender for this award is in itself a remarkable achievement.
Kitcatt Nohr may only have 19 staff, but a flurry of recent account wins is likely to send that figure soaring.
Formed from the remnants of Lion, Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw launched with the World Society for the Protection of Animals, the NSPCC, the Consumers' Association and the Direct Marketing Association among its varied client list.
Since then, River Island, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) and the Rail Passengers' Council have joined the ranks. Add the brief to create Amnesty International's first UK TV ad campaign, plus government-related wins from the National Blood Service and the Security Industry Authority, and Kitcatt Nohr can stake a claim to being one of the success stories of the year.
Creatively, work for VSO and the Royal College of Nursing stands out, while the agency's founders will be able to boast a profit of more than £500,000 in its first year.
Rod Stewart, Ant and Dec and Ken Livingstone might not seem to have much in common, but in 2002 they all featured in promotions devised by Triangle Communications.
The brands involved - Safeway, Golden Wonder and Transport for London - all renewed their faith in Triangle during a year in which Barclays Bank was the only major account to leave the agency. That loss was more than offset by wins for Archers, Baileys, John Lewis, Royal Mail, Woolworths and the Cafe Ritazza coffee brand.
Creative highlights were the Safeway World Favourites concert in Hyde Park, which drew 65,000 people, and the promotion for Unilever Bestfoods in which Pot Noodle changed its name to Not Poodle.
The agency also ran a World Cup penalty shoot-out promotion for Golden Wonder featuring Ant and Dec, and Text for Gold, which Cadbury used to tie in with this summer's Commonwealth Games, for which it won a gong at this year's MCCA Awards.
In November, Triangle celebrated 25 years' continuous association with Cadbury.
BLACK CAT AGENCY
Following last year's decision to sell to WPP's J Walter Thompson, Richmond-based Black Cat Agency could have been excused for using 2002 to regroup and consolidate. But a healthy new business performance and the continued investment by its management team in areas such as data planning and interactive have made this year a successful one.
Viewed as an agency capable of effective direct marketing as well as sales promotions, Black Cat has won business from Coral, HFC Bank, Kellogg, Microsoft, Motorola, Nestle, Pfizer and Yellow Pages. Its only losses were the Criminal Records Bureau and Air Miles. Creative highlights included the 'Train' DM for NTL Broadband and the campaign for Motorola's Bluetooth products.
Despite Black Cat's aversion to entering creative awards, its output is becoming widely respected and next year should see further benefits from its relationship with JWT.
TULLO MARSHALL WARREN
The largest remaining independent direct marketing agency in the UK, TMW has benefited from another year of spectacular growth. A strong performance includes wins from brands as diverse as Smirnoff, Tesco Clubcard and the Royal Air Force. Britannic Assurance, Diners Club, Liverpool Victoria and NatWest's Primeline phone banking arm.
Robust acquisition has allowed the agency to expand by more than 10% to 124 people and predict a 12% rise in gross profit to £3.9m.
No major accounts were lost in 2002 due to effective work for clients such as Nissan, which handed TMW the brief to launch the new Primera.
TMW also developed a series of lifestyle mailings to help Tesco get closer to its customers, while British Airways awarded it the task of managing the Executive Club. Work for O2, the RAF, BA and Nissan was recognised with a string of awards.
PARTNERS ANDREWS ALDRIDGE
One of the new kids on the block, but youth is certainly not holding Partners Andrews Aldridge back. A strong end to 2001 has been followed by an exceptional 2002 in which new business and awards flowed consistently into the agency.
Among the account wins were a major slice of the Barnardo's direct marketing account, some significant project work from BUPA, a relationship marketing brief from American wine-maker E&J Gallo, and, most recently, the bmi british midland DM assignment.
Partners is also understood to have picked up an as-yet unactivated brief from the Department of Health to help smokers kick the habit. The agency won a cluster of awards, acknowledging the strides forward it has made under the creative leadership of Steve Aldridge.
The agency's most lauded work included brand-led campaigns for the Lexus car marque in an industry that has long been predominantly focused on model-specific communication. A 'stay-well' card for BUPA also broke the creative mould in the usually mundane private healthcare industry.
WWAV RAPP COLLINS
Europe's largest DM agency may have lost Toyota as a client, but other developments suggest that WWAV was the best of the major players this year.
The biggest win came in spring, when WWAV picked up an estimated £30m-worth of billings for Nectar, the new loyalty programme backed by Sainsbury's, among others. Other wins followed, with the £20m AMP brief and Procter & Gamble among the gains.
An integrated campaign to promote Carling's foray into music sponsorship and a series of NSPCC DRTV ads were the agency's best work. It won four Caples Awards and a Gold Echo Award this year. The agency has also restructured to bring its media, teleservices and list management arms together.
TOP 30 BELOW-THE-LINE AGENCIES
Rank Agency Gross Profit
1 WWAV Rapp Collins (London) 29,800,000
2 OgilvyOne 29,012,000
3 EHS Brann 28,450,000
4 Proximity London 27,259,000
5 McCann Relationship Marketing 25,500,000
6 Carlson Marketing Group (agency only) 21,000,000
7 Claydon Heeley Jones Mason 17,780,000
8 TBWA/GGT Direct 16,030,000
9 KLP Euro RSCG 14,605,000
10 ARC (formerly IMP Group) 14,465,000
11 Joshua Agency 14,269,000
12 Tequila London 14,000,000
13 The Marketing Store 13,464,000
14 DraftWorldwide* 12,776,000
15 Lowe Live* 12,105,000
16 Momentum 12,000,000
17 Triangle 11,918,000
18 Haygarth Group 11,866,000
19 Finex Communications Group 11,422,000
20 Publicis Dialog Group 11,400,000
21 Ffwd Network 10,690,000
22 Skybridge 10,600,000
23 141 9,300,000
24 Dynamo Marketing Group 9,250,000
25 Mosaic Marketing Solutions 9,193,000
26 Rapier 8,750,000
27 Black Cat Agency 8,748,000
28 Geoff Howe Group 8,431,000
29 Tullo Marshall Warren 7,976,000
30 Harrison Troughton Wunderman 7,800,000
Source: Marketing League Tables
*DraftWorldwide and Lowe Live have now merged