Harrison Troughton Wunderman (HTW) is a rare thing; an agency that is part of an international network (WPP), but still scores highly on both a business and creative standing.
While many agencies battened down the hatches against the cloud of economic gloom, HTW grew existing business, gained accounts, scooped awards for creativity, and improved returns for its clients.
As well as picking up five new accounts, including Healthspan, the National Phobics Society and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Aware UK, much of the agency's growth was through incremental business from its existing clients, such as M&G Investments' international business and IBM's Global Business Services.
One of HTW's differentiating factors is its approach to business-to- business marketing. Despite sometimes dry subject matter, HTW has shown consistent creative flair. The agency produced some outstanding work for brands such as IBM and M&G.
More importantly, it has demonstrated campaign effectiveness. An example was a direct response ad campaign for M&G that sought to counter low consumer confidence resulting from a plummeting investments market and the war in Iraq. The ads used lines such as 'Good news for people who are having trouble sleeping ...' and 'If you can keep your head ...' The campaign helped shift £127m worth of bonds and has improved M&G's ISA market share by 52%.
One of HTW's most successful campaigns targeted just 48 people. IBM Global Services felt it was not a major player in the UK banking sector and briefed HTW to remedy this. The agency identified the chief executives, information officers and strategic officers at 17 banks based in the UK.
Knowing that they would all read the Financial Times, the agency bought first editions of the paper at 4am and inserted two ads customised to their targets. The first communicated IBM's expertise in the banking sector; the second, its personal approach to business. The campaign has already generated more than £5m for IBM and the company is anticipating another £25m.
But HTW is no mere financial and business-to-business shop. Its work has also achieved impressive returns for its consumer clients.
Thresher wanted to encourage 18- to 35-year-olds to make more spontaneous trips to its off-licences. HTW knew 90% of Thresher's custom was spontaneous, and wanted to boost traffic. It came up with a radio campaign called 'Any excuse for a party'.
On searching for bizarre days or weeks that are celebrated around the world, HTW found occasions such as 'Plan Your Own Epitaph Day' and 'Make Your Mind Up Month'. The resulting radio ads featured a group of friends using the bizarre days as an excuse to throw parties.
By comparing sales figures in areas where the campaign ran with those where it didn't, HTW showed that transactions increased by 5.6%, boosting margins by 5.7%.
In terms of winning awards, HTW was way ahead of the competition. It had the highest number of wins at this year's DMA Awards, with six golds, six silvers and four bronzes. These included work for IBM Global Services, M&G, Xerox and Thresher. It also won in the business-to-business category for self-promotion. The range of categories reflects the agency's diverse expertise: financial services, press, radio, outdoor, creativity and strategy among them. HTW also won recognition at the Cannes Lion Direct Awards, where it picked up three Lions: a gold for Xerox, a silver for IBM and a bronze for M&G. In addition, it scooped the gold at the IDM Business Performance Awards and six silvers at the Campaign Direct Awards.
Last month, HTW beat campaigns by ad agencies Bartle Bogle Hegarty and BMP DDB to win the best in the silver category at the APG Creative Planning Awards for M&G Investments.
The most recent new business win for HTW was The Marketing Society, which announced in November that it was restricting new membership to invitation only. HTW's brief is to target people who the organisation feels are of a suitable profile. Other business wins include Yahoo!, which the agency picked up in the summer. It was briefed to develop an integrated consumer campaign for the portal's financial site.
This year, HTW has been working hard on Nectar, which it picked up in November 2002. Since then, the agency has managed every direct contact with the scheme's 13 million cardholders, and been responsible for managing the 74 billion points collected in the first year of the scheme.
No stranger to innovation, HTW has launched a number of products to assist its clients. With the Harvard School of Business, it created the Brand Experience Scorecard to measure consumer attitude to brands. The scheme categorises customers into varying loyalty levels.
Elsewhere, the agency launched a joint initiative with Mediaedge:cia to ensure efficient use of customer data in media planning. It also ran seminars for clients on topics such as the grey market, brand experience and brand alliances.
Ben Bold edits Marketing's Direct section. 020 8267 4363, email@example.com.