Top 100 marketing employers 2004

Our annual survey of how marketing staff see their employers has thrown up some surprises. So, what does it take to top the league? Jane Bainbridge reports.

'Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work,' said Aristotle.

This year's Marketing Employer of the Year survey bears witness to those companies that believe a happy workforce produces the best results. Now in its third year, the survey, carried out exclusively by Marketing in conjunction with recruitment firm Stopgap, ranks companies according to how their marketing employees see them, and offers all businesses an insight into what it takes to be an employer of choice.

With more than 1700 individuals from 330 companies filling in the online questionnaire, it is the biggest such survey to date. At least five nominations were required from its marketing team for a company to qualify for inclusion.

Marketers were questioned on a range of areas. Management style, brand values, benefits, career development, internal communication, culture and working environment were investigated to determine which companies could legitimately claim to be top marketing employers. While some score well for financial benefits, others may excel in brand vision, but by looking at the scores across the criteria, an overall picture of a company's standing as a marketing employer was established.

So is there a formula directors can adhere to that will mean their companies can become the next NatWest Primeline or Redmandarin? Companies that do well have a knack of making it seem easy, but it boils down to several key principles, regardless of the sector the companies operate in, whether they are public or private, big or small.

Primeline and Redmandarin scored in the high 90s on management style, with Action for Blind People and Shine Communications close behind. Open-door policies to ensure accessibility, keeping staff informed and individual career development plans are all de rigueur among the top performers.

'Great leaders have a mixture of personal humility and a professional will to succeed,' says Stopgap managing director Claire Owen. 'Managers need to be genuinely interested, caring and committed to the people who work for them. It can be simple things like saying hello and knowing when someone's birthday is,' she adds.

A change of leadership can have a big impact. Last year's top company, Ford, has fallen almost 100 places, the obvious difference being that Peter Fleet is no longer marketing director.

Integrated communications agency Mercier Gray has seen a significant rise in performance in the table this year compared with last, and scores particularly well on leadership. Its managing director, Rob Gray, is a believer in leading from the front.

Unusually for a small company, it employs a human resources director.

'It is partly because company law is changing and we want to protect ourselves, but also because we believe in looking after our staff,' says Gray. Being transparent is often raised as an attribute of good managers. Both Gray and Sharon Richey, managing director of field marketing agency LoewyBe, which appears for the first time in this year's table, believe in keeping staff informed of the company's financial position.

Volvo has been a consistently strong performer in this survey. 'It's a Scandinavian style of very open, consensus management,' says sales and marketing director Simon Munn. 'There is little hierarchy, which speeds up communication, (and) the company is driven by a clear set of values that helps to focus people's direction,' he adds.

It's not just who is in charge that influences a team's opinion of its company; for marketers, the brand proposition and its values are also vital. Munn thinks that Volvo has a head start here because there is a belief among its employees in what the company stands for and its track record on safety and the environment. 'We do our own attitude survey of how our employees feel, and the highest score is that nine out of 10 are proud to work for Volvo Cars,' he adds.

At Lever Faberge, each brand team is given the opportunity to publicise its brand internally to build awareness of what marketing is doing and ensure all employees understand the brand personality.

'We have a brand of the month when a specific team "owns" the building so everyone can experience their brand,' explains Jacqui Hill, marketing director for personal care at Lever Faberge. 'They may dress the foyer, give out samples or do a lunchtime lecture. Some teams have gone further than others. The Dove team re-enacted the "real women" advertising poster for its firming products. It was just for internal use, but it was very brave of the team.'

Inevitably, for marketing employees to rate their companies well, their discipline has to enjoy recognition within their organisation. Companies such as Procter & Gamble, Reed Business Information, Volvo and Lever Faberge, which all have marketing represented on the board, gain from this.

'Marketing is a core function and we start from that point,' says Hill. 'But people in the department must keep that passion going and prove that marketing is adding value and driving business.'

For client companies with specific products to market, it is arguably easier to imbue brand values in the team than it is for agencies. For integrated communications agency The Forster Company, the highest-scoring agency in the brand value results, this is not a problem because of its clear business proposition. It is dedicated to 'quality of life' issues, producing communications for social and environmental change.

Appearing in this survey will not surprise many of the featured businesses, since those that put employee welfare at the centre of their operations invariably carry out their own regular in-house questionnaires. More importantly, these companies do not rest on their laurels. By regularly giving employees a means of communicating their opinions and frustrations in the workplace, enlightened management can tackle any areas where they are lacking and change their business practices accordingly.

For all the hours people spend at work, companies that ensure it is a pleasurable experience and invest in their employees' careers reap the rewards in their business performance.

CLIENTS TOP 10

Company Score

(%)

1 NatWest Primeline 95.0

2 Procter & Gamble UK 89.6

3 Whitbread 89.0

4 Reed Business Info 85.4

5 Emap Active 85.1

6 Home Service 85.0

7 Action for Blind People 84.9

8= Volvo Car UK 84.3

8= Nationwide 84.3

10 O2 (UK) 83.4

Source: Stopgap

AGENCIES TOP 10

Company Score

(%)

1 Redmandarin 91.9

2 Carat 89.2

3 The Forster Company 87.4

4 Shine Communications 85.4

5 Liquorice 84.5

6= Logistix Kids 84.3

6= LoewyBe 84.3

8 Mercier Gray 83.8

9 Yellow Submarine 83.0

10 Lexis Public Relations 82.9

Source: Stopgap

Marketer opinions 90% of client respondents think their company vision is clearly communicated by management.

86% of client respondents say marketing helps define the direction of the company.

88% of all respondents have faith in their firm's leadership.

87% say their brand values clearly distinguish them from competitors.

84% understand the coming year's business objectives.

84% say their company is committed to marketing investment.

82% say the marketing team is respected in the company.

60% are encouraged to seek professional marketing qualifications.

15% think they can't make a difference in their company.

TOP CLIENT - NATWEST PRIMELINE

Primeline may not have the brand recognition of its parent NatWest, but the 12-year-old 24-hour telephone and internet banking service has topped this year's list of marketing employers.

Head of marketing John Wills acknowledges that the brand is 'not that well-known', but says the team has a strong belief in the proposition.

'We strive to create an environment where everyone is involved. Our core priorities are about delighting the customer, acquiring new customers and (balancing) the technical and the personal,' he says. The company has a code of conduct for its 13-strong team to be open and honest, supportive, dedicated, creative and forward-thinking, as well as being fun to work with.

The marketing team has a high level of responsibility, with individuals given complete projects to manage so that they gain experience across all elements of marketing. 'We try to give people the authority and belief to make decisions without having to refer to many people. Ownership and accountability is important along with the trust,' says Wills.

To ensure the marketers are well-informed and that they gel as a team, Primeline has monthly meetings that incorporate a night away. These involve business updates, team-building elements and the opportunity to socialise.

To keep commitment high, every employee has a thorough personal development plan that is regularly monitored.

And Primeline does not try to stifle their ambitions within the NatWest group. 'We have a high-performing team and people are ambitious, so we help them move onward and upward.'

TOP AGENCY - REDMANDARIN

When Sally Hancock started her own sponsorship consultancy, Redmandarin, five years ago, she wanted a holistic approach to management. 'I had come out of Octagon, which was a top-heavy organisation,' she says. 'I felt there was a way of involving people more and engaging them in the process.

I've tried to give people space to develop and grow, and everyone is involved in the decision-making.' While she acknowledges that Redmandarin's structure is not entirely flat, big decisions - such as selling the business to Incepta three years ago - are shared with the team.

With numerous international clients on its books, travel takes up a lot of employees' time and Hancock says that does impact on their lives, so there is a lot of give and take. While she doesn't think the company's benefits are out of the ordinary, she says: 'We are more open to people trying to get a decent work/life balance.

I have two young children and a long commute, and it's important people know that, as I need flexibility too.'

The agency's collaborative culture means they eat and cook together, and Hancock is as likely to make the tea as anyone else.

'I wanted a place that people felt part of, where they could contribute to the success of the business with no prima donnas. I'm very proud of what we have.'

TOP EMPLOYERS 1-100

Company Score 2003

(%) rank

1 NatWest Primeline 95.0 n/a

2 Redmandarin 91.9 n/a

3 Procter & Gamble UK 89.6 n/a

4 Carat 89.2 13

5 Whitbread 89.0 n/a

6 The Forster Company 87.4 n/a

7= Shine Communications 85.4 59

7= Reed Business Information 85.4 2

9 Emap Active 85.1 n/a

10 Home Service 85.0 n/a

11 Action for Blind People 84.9 29

12 Liquorice 84.5 n/a

13= Volvo Car UK 84.3 15

13= Logistix 84.3 35

13= LoewyBe 84.3 n/a

13= Nationwide 84.3 n/a

17 Mercier Gray 83.8 n/a

18 O2 (UK) 83.4 n/a

19 Mazda 83.2 n/a

20 Yellow Submarine 83.0 40

21 Lexis Public Relations 82.9 30

22 Consolidated Comms Management 82.8 56

23 The Potential Job Board Company 82.6 n/a

24 Interflora 82.0 n/a

25 Go Direct Marketing 81.9 n/a

26 Virgin Mobile 81.8 6

27= Hotwire 81.6 91

27= Lever Faberge 81.6 9

27= Midnight Communications 81.6 82

30 Wunderman 81.2 n/a

31= Stocksigns 80.9 n/a

31= Campbell Grocery Products 80.9 n/a

33 Dynamo 80.6 n/a

34 Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy (MCBD) 80.4 34

35= Salt 80.1 n/a

35= VisitBritain 80.1 n/a

37 Hasbro UK 80.0 n/a

38 dunnhumby 79.6 52

39= Mantra PR 79.3 n/a

39= Barrett Dixon Bell 79.3 n/a

39= Wheel 79.3 n/a

42 TDA 79.2 n/a

43 Research International 78.8 n/a

44 Communicator One 78.3 n/a

45 Pearlfisher 78.2 88

46 SAP UK 78.1 3

47 Countrywide Porter Novelli 78.0 8

48 Buena Vista Home Entertainment 77.9 63

49 23red 77.7 21

50 iD 77.3 n/a

51 Kimberly-Clark Europe 76.7 n/a

52 Faversham House Group 76.6 n/a

53 BUPA 76.4 24

54= glue London 76.3 n/a

54= Liquid Communications 76.3 58

56 Avon Cosmetics 76.2 25

57 Jack Morton Worldwide 76.0 38

58 TW CAT 75.8 n/a

59= Alcone Marketing Group 75.6 84

59= Marshalls 75.6 37

59= Gyro Group 75.6 94

62= CHA 75.4 n/a

62= Brand Learning 75.4 n/a

64 The Real Adventure 75.3 33

65= Agency Republic 75.2 n/a

65= Communications Management 75.2 72

67 BT 75.1 22

68 Honda UK 75.0 n/a

69 UKTV 74.9 n/a

70 Billington Cartmell 74.8 n/a

71 Claydon Heeley Jones Mason 74.5 53

72 Brahm 74.4 41

73 SMP 74.3 98

74 Maxxium UK 74.1 n/a

75 Thomson Financial 73.9 n/a

76= Mencap 73.7 n/a

76= Cancer Research UK 73.7 n/a

78 DNA Consulting 73.6 76

79= The JJ Group 73.4 n/a

79= Unilever Bestfoods UK 73.4 n/a

81 Alliance & Leicester 72.8 28

82 Proximity London 72.7 n/a

83 Johnson King 72.6 n/a

84 McCann-Erickson Manchester 72.5 n/a

85 Miller Bainbridge & Partners 71.6 n/a

86= Lloyd Northover 71.5 n/a

86= Fox Murphy 71.5 20

88= Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel 71.4 75

88= National Instruments UK 71.4 n/a

88= Haygarth 71.4 44

91= Geronimo Marketing & Comms 71.2 n/a

91= Meteorite Marketing 71.2 74

93 Tequila\London 71.0 n/a

94 Tullo Marshall Warren 70.4 n/a

95 BrainJuicer 70.2 n/a

96 Ford Motor Company 69.9 1

97 Lansons Communications 69.4 n/a

98 Multi Resource Marketing 69.3 n/a

99= Attention 68.6 n/a

99= Profero 68.6 n/a

Source: Stopgap

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