MARKETING FOCUS: Review of the year - 1998/As all eyes focus on the run-up to the millennium, Jane Bainbridge reviews the events and companies that made news in the marketing sector over the past year

This was the year millennium fever took hold of consumers and the marketing community alike. Whether it was the Dome and its sponsorship exploits, or the potential damage wreaked by the computer bug, 1998 was a year spent looking forward.

This was the year millennium fever took hold of consumers and the

marketing community alike. Whether it was the Dome and its sponsorship

exploits, or the potential damage wreaked by the computer bug, 1998 was

a year spent looking forward.

The birth of digital television did much to encourage this. Perhaps the

most important of a raft of launches to hit us this year, the digital

future promises to take marketers and advertisers into an as yet

untapped world of interactive marketing and one-to-one customer


The World Cup proved to be the marketing event of the year, whipping

advertisers into a frenzy of activity. Michael Owen came home a hero and

David Beckham a villain when his petulance ensured England failed to

make it to the semi-finals. However, the sporting event once again

proved itself as a vehicle for some of the most effective, big-budget

marketing and sponsorship to be seen.

Economically the year began with ripples of the Asian financial crisis

reaching our shores. In January Samsung dissolved its 17-strong

marketing department in the UK. And the year has ended with gloomy

predictions of the UK economy heading toward full-blown recession.

It was a good year for ...

Procter & Gamble

It may have been criticised for its high-sugar, low-juice content, but

Sunny Delight took the market by storm in April. With a pounds 9m

marketing budget and ads created by Saatchi & Saatchi, in true P&G style

there was no escaping the drink dominating the chiller cabinets. By June

it was outselling Coca-Cola and Pepsi and featured as the highest placed

new brand in Marketing’s Biggest Brands survey.

P&G again proved its might with Ace bleach, launched in February 1997,

boosting one of the fastest-growing new FMCG sectors: pre-wash


The company may have shown the first signs of recession jitters toward

the end of the year, with rumours of requests for its agencies to cut

costs, but it is still in a league of its own.

Sony PlayStation

Since its launch in 1995 PlayStation has left Nintendo and Sega far


But this year saw it go to greater heights, with a marketing strategy

aimed at taking the consoles into the mass market and a retail price set

below pounds 100.

While TBWA GGT Simons Palmer’s pounds 9m pan-European ad campaign

designed to broaden the user base was well received, there can be no

denying the influence of one of its exclusive games. With vital

statistics that puts Barbie to shame, Lara Croft continued to put Tomb

Raider II at the top of the games charts and version three of the game

is selling well for Christmas. Lara, now an icon of the late 90s,

launched her own fashion range in October.

But in a bid to push the extremes of marketing, Sony hit the ground with

a bump when its ill-advised medical results-style direct mail campaign,

created by Claydon Heeley, arrived on the door step of a cancer


Sony apologised but not before the tabloids had a field day.

Ford and Young & Rubicam

In July Young & Rubicam snatched Ford’s European ad account for its

Fiesta and Ka models from Ogilvy & Mather, only a week after the agency

also scooped the pounds 37m Focus account. This was the icing on the

cake for Y&R, which also secured the entire pounds 154m Danone business

in May.

Meanwhile, 1998 was the year Ford forced the car-buying public to think

again. Although Ka had detractors, its design was innovative, while

Puma, with help from Steve McQueen, shifted the boring family saloon

manufacturer into the sexy sports car arena. Focus - the Escort

replacement - won Car of the Year in November.


The frozen-food supermarket has done much this year to improve its


In April it announced its home-shopping service via a link-up with

BSkyB, which made it the first food retailer to launch a nationwide


Malcolm Walker, co-founder and chairman, also carried off a number of

environmental PR coups with its stance against genetically-modified

foods and ozone-depleting refrigerators.

Its testing of the convenience format, Iceland Extra, and the

appointment of HHCL & Partners to handle its pounds 10m ad account, all

suggest it will continue to irritate the big boys next year. Its last

full-year results showed like-for-like sales were up 4.4% and pre-tax

profits were pounds 50.2m.

Budget Airlines

One of the fastest-growing sectors in the economy, the likes of EasyJet,

RyanAir and Debonair faced a new rival. In February British Airways

launched its low-cost airline, Go, prompting EasyJet to take it to the

High Court.

Later in the year, EasyJet revealed it was to open internet cafes, to be

headed by marketing director Tony Anderson.

Leo Burnett

1998 proved to be one of the best new business years in Leo Burnett’s

history - most of it coming in October. It was appointed worldwide

agency for Heinz sauce brands, clinched P&G’s pounds 150m UK TV buying

account and won the pounds 44m relaunch of P&G’s Vidal Sassoon range.

Just a shame about The Express.

Jon Claydon and Mark Heeley

Below-the-line shop Claydon Heeley was bought by Omnicom in March,

making millionaires of Jon Claydon, Mark Heeley, Edward Mason and Leo


It was a bad year for ...


Our nation of pet lovers managed to log over 200 complaints in two days

when the jeans giant’s Kevin the Hamster ad went on air, making it the

most complained about ad of all time. It was part of a European branding

campaign, launched by its UK marketing director Amanda Le Roux in


In October Le Roux was put in charge of brand extensions across Europe,

Middle East and Africa after Levi’s axed the UK marketing director


As fashion trends shifted, Levi’s sales fell by almost 8%. It wasn’t

alone, as administrators were called in at Falmers in October.


It may have promised much when it launched in May 1996 but Ionica failed

to convince the consumer that radio wave telephony and houses adorned

with yet more receivers was the future of telecoms. In November the

administrators were called in and 600 staff made redundant.

Marks & Spencer

In November it announced its first drop in profits since 1991. Chairman

Sir Richard Greenbury blamed a consumer slump for a 23% fall in

half-year profits that wiped over pounds 1bn off its stock market value.

It put off plans to expand in the Far East.


A shift in advertising style, featuring John Cleese, backfired after

staff complained. Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO had to re-edit one ad.

Despite its focus on value, Sainsbury’s is one of the big supermarkets

being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading for their buying


In October Dino Adriano, chief executive, warned the City of poor

trading conditions and sales growth.

CIA Medianetwork

The agency lost the pounds 110m BT account, pounds 18m Somerfield/Kwik

Save business and pounds 30m Lloyds TSB business, resulting in a major

cost-cutting restructure in October. Four board directors were asked to

leave, and 25 other positions were axed. The Negotiation Centre was

folded into the main agency.


Its attempts to educate the UK consumer about the benefits of

genetically modified (GM) food, through a Bartle Bogle Hegarty created

ad campaign, backfired when Prince Charles became an opponent. Food

retailers, with the exception of Iceland, adopted a ’wait and see’

attitude although all wanted clear labelling. By November its own

commissioned report painted a bleak picture, showing an ongoing collapse

of public support for biotechnology and GM foods.


Although it was generally a quiet year on the tobacco front while the

government worked out the details of the European ban on tobacco

promotion, BAT hit problems with its Formula 1 sponsorship. In October

it discovered that despite shelling out pounds 300m in team sponsorship,

it was banned from putting different cigarette brands on each of its



Was 1998 the year the Branson bubble burst? Passengers on Virgin trains

might agree. Late services and a bizarre class seating policy resulted

in endless headlines berating the operator. There have also been profits

warnings from Virgin Express airline and Virgin’s clothing and cosmetics

operations. While it may have redesigned its Cola, Virgin has yet to

make a serious impact on Coca-Cola and Pepsi. k


This was the highlight of the sporting year, with 12 global FIFA

sponsors ensuring their pounds 20m investment reaped the maximum


Although one of the 12, Anheuser-Busch, had to sell on its perimeter

advertising to Casio when it failed to persuade the French government to

relax Loi Evin, its alcohol ad ban.

Prior to kick off in May, McDonald’s signed Alan Shearer, the England

captain, for its World Cup advertising campaign, by Leo Burnett. It went

on to be voted the favourite World Cup ad in Marketing’s survey.

Vauxhall paid an additional pounds 4m to be ITV’s broadcast sponsor but

Lowe Howard-Spink’s bumper ads were voted the most irritating in the

same survey.

England’s match against Romania on June 22 attracted 21.6 million

viewers, the largest ITV audience for more than ten years - and viewing

in pubs may have added up to 15 million more.

Brazil’s poor performance in the final against France, with a lacklustre

Ronaldo on the pitch, caused rumblings about how much influence his

sponsor Nike had on team selection.

But England’s golden boy, Michael Owen, started to reap his own rewards

in September when he signed a deal with Eidos to produce Michael Owen’s

World League Soccer ’99 video game.


- In February Unilever made its white-haired old Captain Birds Eye walk

the plank after 30 years of sea-faring to bring in a younger sexier

model, supported by a pounds 50m global ad campaign through Ammirati

Puris Lintas.

- Ad agency Leagas Shafron Davis was no more when it was forced into

administrative receivership in March.

- Despite grumbling from politicians and complaints from the public, the

Independent Television Commission accepted ITV’s request to ditch News

at Ten.

- Papa looked on as Nicole changed her mind at the last minute and ran

off with Bob Mortimer rather than Vic Reeves in the final ad featuring

the Renault Clio single parent family.

- More domestic strife occurred in June when Nestle killed off its

11-year-old Gold Blend couple.

- Findus foods bit the dust as Nestle gave up on the brand to

concentrate on Crosse & Blackwell instead.

- Ginger Spice quit the Spice Girls to reinvent herself as Geri

Halliwell, UN ambassador for goodwill no less. Watch out for Geri next


- Good-bye to the Coca-Cola Cup, hello to the Worthington’s Cup, in a

deal that cost the brewer pounds 23m over five years.

- Despite reincarnations, The European folded after almost eight




Ian Milligan, Kellogg’s UK head of new product development leaves to

become marketing director of Camelot.


Jan Hall leaves Coca-Cola in the UK to become global brand director for

Diet Coke based in Atlanta. PepsiCo marketer Todd Martin is appointed

global marketing director for Allied Domecq.


Helen Burt, Cable & Wireless Communications’ marketing director,



Jim Hytner joins Channel 5. Joe Ennen takes over from Mark Sims as

Kellogg’s top marketer.


Stephen Vowles is appointed as retail marketing director for Thomas

Cook. Peter Stratton joins Eurotunnel as its new marketing director.


Cellnet appoints new marketing director Kent Thexton.


Dominic Owens leaves BT as it merges its business and consumer units,

and Cellnet’s Tim Evans is made head of the new unit. By September Owens

has set up his own media consultancy. Orange marketing director, Robert

Fallow, leaves with no job to go to.


Cereal Partners appoints Dez Timmiss as its top marketer. Heinz appoints

Eric Salamon as its European marketing director.


Simon Esberger leaves Cellnet - he joined as marketing director but was

made commercial development director in June. P&G hair care marketing

director, Andrew Harrison, joins Coca-Cola as marketing director.

John Prior is poached from Burger King to be KFC’s marketing


Martin Glenn, Walkers Snack Foods UK vice-president of marketing is

promoted to president and chief executive officer.


John Derkach, marketing director of Whitbread Beer Company, joins

Beefeater restaurants as managing director. Sega appoints MTV head of

marketing, Giles Thomas as marketing director to spearhead the launch of


Gary Haigh replaces Julian Spooner as Guinness marketing director. Simon

MacDonald, Bass’s most senior marketer, leaves to join Citibank



Ford’s most senior European marketer, Phillipe Mellier, resigns to join



- In October SkyDigital hit the market, followed by ONdigital in


Between them they will spend around pounds 150m marketing their services

in 1999. ITV got a sister channel when ITV2 joined the digital


- Sunny Delight was the ’great stuff kids go for’, according to Saatchis

launch campaign in April, and judging by the sales it seems to be


- BA’s Go hit the skies in April, much to the annoyance of EasyJet.

- Lever put pounds 25m behind the May launch of Persil tablets.

- In October Prudential launched its direct financial services arm,


- Barclays tried a new approach to financial services in May with its b2

brand and a pounds 15m ad investment through Banks Hoggins O’Shea.

- The new VW Beetle came on the market in Europe with orders coming in

as fast as the car can be made.

- The Ford Focus launched in October and won Car of the Year.

- The iMac launched in August with a major ad campaign as well as huge

expectations that it can reverse Apple’s fortunes.


Love it or loathe it, Peter Mandelson’s favourite building was the topic

of much debate this year. At the start of the year The New Millennium

Experience Company gave Martin Lambie-Nairn a seat on the board with a

two-year contract.

On the way to reaching the target of pounds 150m worth of sponsorship in

February, founding partners BT, Tesco, BSkyB and Manpower were

announced. Camelot, the Corporation of London, BA and BAA also became

official sponsors.

In September BT’s Sholto Douglas-Home joined as its director of

marketing and communications on assignment from the telecoms giant.

By November the zones and respective sponsors were fully revealed, with

McDonald’s, Ford and Boots the Chemist announced as new sponsors. The

Dome is only pounds 30m short of its target but the media remain

obsessed with its content. Sponsorship company IMG had its contract for

raising funds terminated early, causing reports that it had been paid

pounds 4m but not been responsible for a single sponsor.


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