Agency of the Year 2005: Direct Agency of the Year - Tullo Marshall Warren

An impressive record of new account wins plus significant incremental business saw this industry stalwart grow by 20% over the past year.

The steady growth of Tullo Marshall Warren (TMW) over the past 18 years has paid off. Marketing's Direct Agency of the Year has cultivated its client base to become the country's biggest independent direct marketing agency, and thanks to a storming run of new business acquisitions, including its triumph in the biggest pitch of the year, Lloyds TSB, it has grown its business by 20% this year.

This year TMW has contested 42 pitches and won 24, adding business worth about £5.2m. The agency's turnover now exceeds £20m, and its fees have broken £13m for the first time, a considerable achievement given the trend for brands to enter full-service agreements with marketing groups such as Omnicom and WPP.

While direct mail, although still vital, makes up an ever-decreasing share of the agency's business, TMW has been busy developing other divisions to service its clients. As well as its successful growth of dedicated data planning and management consultancy division insight@tmw, its integrated digital division, DigitalTMW, has expanded so much that it now has the credentials of a standalone agency, winning business from companies including Cadbury.

TMW's proudest moment this year came when, along with last year's Direct Agency of the Year, Partners Andrews Aldridge, it was appointed to the £40m Lloyds TSB business. Internally, TMW sees the opportunity to work at such a strategic level in the bank's business as recognition that it is now able to operate at the highest levels within its clients' businesses.

The Lloyds appointment cushioned the blow of TMW's only major loss in 2005. After three years, Morgan Stanley moved its £15m business to Tequila\London.

The agency was also handed a £900,000 brief for GNER in April. The CRM account, which includes a relaunch of the train operator's loyalty scheme Time, was picked up following a six-way pitch.

In the summer TMW was hired to handle direct marketing for broadband TV platform Homechoice following a competitive review. Working with Homechoice's ad agency, Mother, TMW was tasked with an acquisition project. It created a campaign ranging from door-drops to online, covering Homechoice's distribution areas in London and Stevenage. The company credits the activity for an 85% uplift in sales.

Following a successful three-way pitch against Rapier and Draft London, TMW created its first work for the government-funded body Energy Saving Trust (EST) in March. It has developed campaigns aimed at groups including local authorities and consumers, informing them how to reduce their energy use. Perhaps the best indication of how important TMW is to the EST is that it has been commissioned to work on several areas outside its original remit, including brand and logo development.

Despite a shake-up of COI's direct roster that saw 12 agencies ditched, TMW was retained for a fifth year and continues to work on the RAF and Investors in People.

Just two years after getting its foot in the door at Unilever, TMW has an active role on the company's roster, and now works on six of its brands, including Persil, Comfort, Birds Eye and Flora. Among its most high-profile campaigns for Unilever this year was its Flora pro.activ mailing, supported by a dedicated website created by DigitalTMW.

Some of the agency's best creative work has been for Diageo, one of its oldest clients. It runs five or six campaigns a year for Guinness, including rugby tie-ins such as one for this summer's British and Irish Lions tour.

In November, British Airways announced its intention to take on Virgin Atlantic by upgrading its executive and First Class services; TMW, which has held the airline's business for 15 years, is already working on the strategic development of the changes.

In September, the agency broke into the top 10 privately owned marketing services agencies, ranked by financial credentials. It was the only direct agency in the top 10.

TMW remains a steady ship, with founding partners Paul Tullo, Richard Marshall and Chris Warren still at the helm. After recruiting an extra 36 people this year, bringing its total headcount up to nearly 200 employees, it is competing on a level playing field with some multinationals - and often winning.

PREVIOUS WINNERS 2004: Partners Andrews Aldridge 2003: Harrison Troughton Wunderman 2002: TBWA\GGT Direct

BEST OF THE REST

It was a tough call, but Harrison Troughton Wunderman fell just short of being named Marketing's Direct Agency of the Year 2005. After a rip-roaring new business run, the agency has continued to do some of its best work for existing clients and produce campaigns outside its usual remit.

Its new business got off to a flying start early this year when it beat ad agencies Leo Burnett and Publicis to handle the £12m integrated account for Hotels.com. It also beat Scottish Courage's roster agencies to win the £2m Kronenbourg sales promotion business, and picked up new business from Samsung Mobile, Rolls-Royce and Hertz.

The agency moved on from its reliance on founders Martin Troughton and Steve Harrison this year, promoting John Honey and Suzanne Partridge to managing directors.

Rapier picked up its first two briefs from the COI this year, contributing to a 26% rise in annual profit and £38m increase in billings to £160m.

Among its most noteworthy new business in the past 12 months was NTL, the biggest direct account to move without a pitch this year. The company had previously used five regional agencies but consolidated all its business in Rapier. NTL is currently merging with Telewest, another Rapier client, for which it has done some of its most successful work.

Rapier also added Barnardo's, South Eastern Trains and Mercedes-Benz to its client list. The agency's only loss of the year was AA Breakdown, but it continues to work for AA Insurance and AA Loans. The AA has experienced a 30% increase in demand for its loans, which is impressive considering the overall car loans market is down by 5%.

After 15 years Rapier is still run by founder Jonathan Stead, and staff numbers this year stand at 90. The agency's rapid development over the past 12 months and the imminent opening of another branch has made it one to watch in 2006.

Just three years after its launch, Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw has already matched the best the industry has to offer. The agency was retained by the COI, and its campaign for the Department of Health's anti-smoking drive provided one of the highlights of the agency's year. The campaign, aimed at young smokers, drew almost 130,000 responses - eight times its target. The work received six nominations at the 2005 DMA Awards. At the time of writing, the anti-smoking work is being reviewed.

More important than its creative excellence has been Kitcatt Nohr's consistent delivery of results for its clients. Its work for Virgin Holidays, for example, contributed to a sales increase of about £3m.

The agency won five pitches this year, including Cancer Research UK and Logitech. It was also appointed to work on the relaunch of women's title Eve magazine following its acquisition from the BBC by Haymarket.

In May Kitcatt Nohr moved to new offices and developed its digital business when it bought a stake in digital agency Underwired.

Last year's Direct Agency of the Year, Partners Andrews Aldridge, has had another strong year in which it shifted up a gear to win business from blue-chip clients such as Vodafone and BSkyB. It also picked up one of the year's biggest briefs when it secured the £40m Lloyds TSB account alongside Tullo Marshall Warren.

Among Partners' high-profile work was a series of mailers for the Wales Tourist Board, which maintained the 'Mud' theme of its TV campaign.

The agency continues to get results through consistently innovative work.

The effectiveness of its work in 2005 is also undisputed, with its 'Flag' campaign, also for the Wales Tourist Board, a prime example. The mailing drive achieved an impressive 18% response rate, while a campaign for children's charity Barnardo's generated an 11% response.

EHS Brann also deserves a mention. The agency started the year on a strong footing when it restructured the Homebase Spend & Save loyalty programme, helping cut running costs by £2.5m. From there it has gone on to pick up work from a broad range of clients, including Volvo, Britvic, Mazda, Matalan and Churchill.

Relationships with existing clients have also been expanded this year.

EHS relaunched the Tesco Club Card, helping the supermarket generate a further £100m in incremental sales. The success of its 'Friends of the classic malts' work for Diageo led to EHS handling additional work for some of the company's other brands, including Jose Cuervo Tequila and Baileys.

In May, EHS Brann's offering was enhanced when its digital operation merged with Euro RSCG Interaction.

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