Experian starts a year of data supplier consolidation with a bang, buying database company ClarityBlue for a whopping £85m. Major agency account wins include the award to Rapier of the £7m direct brief from Digital UK, the organisation co-ordinating the switch from analogue to digital, and the Fosters £5m CRM task to Harrison Troughton Wunderman. Lloyds TSB drops the use of scripts in its call centres, after customers expressed their annoyance. Janet McKay leaves Clark McKay and Walpole, the agency she co-founded, to take a break from the industry.
A mixed month for DM agencies as Spirit IC and Meercat Culture go bust, while above-the-line agency Mother is reported to be in talks about setting up its own direct arm. Mobile phone company 3, Privilege and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) hunt for new DM agencies. CMW deputy MD Martin Nieri is promoted to succeed Janet McKay as MD and the agency wins work from the Post Office to promote its financial products. Prudential talks to agencies about its pensions and life assurance DM. It eventually retains Tequila\London.
Data Locator Group goes through a £25m management buyout. Leo Burnett merges its DM agencies Arc and Triangle. Unilever talks to DM agencies about its £1m Vaseline Intensive Care account and Tullo Marshall Warren (TMW) wins online work for Birds Eye. Tequila\London suspends creative Nick Moore, after links with Mother's new direct startup. Phillip Slade's start-up agency Passion merges with Pulse Group.
Marketing services group Creston buys the sole top 10 indie DM agency, TMW, in a deal worth up to £38m. Agency 20:20 London is stripped of two Campaign Direct awards for its CSI: New York work for Channel Five, after public complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. Marc Michaels, COI director of direct and relationship marketing, tops the league of powerful clients in Marketing Direct's Power 100. Unilever reviews its DM and digital rosters, and awards the Vaseline account to TMW.
Call centres defy telemarketing's poor image as revenues for the top 30 suppliers rise 12 per cent in Marketing Direct's annual survey. Somerfield axes its Saver loyalty card scheme and the DMA plans to launch an unaddressed MPS. Dunnhumby appoints Andrew Jordan as group data solutions director, succeeding founder Clive Humby, who remains as chairman. TMW joint creative director Andy Barwood joins Hicklin Slade to head its creative department.
Mobile phone company 3 appoints Claydon Heeley and digital agency Holler to manage its customer communications. Nick Moore, formerly of Tequila\London, moves to Wunderman New York. Capital One's chief marketer, Arjan Dijk, defends his company's direct mail record in a Marketing Direct interview (pictured above). 20:20 London takes home a haul of four Cannes Lions for its work on 24: The Game for PlayStation 2. Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union agree to meet to discuss lifting the limits on un-addressed mail. Golley Slater buys McCann Erickson Leeds and Hugh Bessant leaves Prospect Swetenhams and Market Monitor.
Hard evidence of direct mail's decline is revealed in Marketing Direct's annual Top 100 Direct Mail Spenders survey. Spend fell by 27 per cent in 2005. Dunnhumby dissolves its separate data and creative units, Crucible and Cinnamon, merging them into the parent company. Joshua wins the £2m account for M&G, after incumbent HTW declines to repitch. Thomson Holidays contacts agencies as it reviews its DM account. Unilever appoints its DM roster: Billington Cartmell, Chemistry Communications, Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel, Tequila\London and TMW.
The hassle-free launch of Royal Mail's size-based pricing is overshadowed by the suspension of Roger Annies, a Welsh postman who told customers how to stop unaddressed mail. The press pick up the story and DM attracts its worst headlines in years. TNT Post becomes the sole distributor of Ikea catalogues in the UK, and wins the bulk of Sainsbury's direct mail account. Royal Bank of Scotland-owned insurance brand Direct Line appoints Geronimo to its £6.2m DM account. Publicis Dialog's executive creative director Mike Cavers leaves for the same role at Chemistry.
Junk mail stories in the national press continue, with industry figures appearing on radio and TV to defend DM. Agency Sharpen Troughton Owens Response is merged into RMG Connect. OgilvyOne's executive creative director Cordell Burke moves to Tequila\London. Marco Scognamiglio, chief executive of WWAV Rapp Collins' London office, is promoted to head the UK group, with group chief executive Chris Gordon becoming global chairman.
Experian is spun off from parent GUS and is relisted on the London Stock Exchange with a market value of £5.7bn. DLG buys Wegener DM for £13.4m, and now claims to be the UK's biggest supplier of lifestyle data. Channel 4's Dispatches programme shows call-centre workers selling UK customer data. Rapier bags the £50m integrated brief for the launch of the merged NTL/Telewest/Virgin Mobile entity, while Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw wins the Waitrose DM account.
Mass exodus as DLG starts to merge with Wegener DM. Caroline Kimber and Tony Lamb are among those who leave. Other senior data departures: Chris Duncan from Alchemetrics; Dawn Orr and Jon Cano-Lopez go on sick leave from Acxiom. Hamleys appoints a new head of DM, Rowan Luckie from Playboy UK. British Gas reviews its £35m DM account, currently with EHS Brann and WWAV Rapp Collins, ahead of a January pitch, while Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw wins a £20m DM pitch for Aviva to work across most of Norwich Union's insurance products.
The agency won the £50m integrated brief for the newly merged Telewest/NTL/Virgin, despite fierce competition.
A very grown-up year for Experian, with the purchase of ClarityBlue and separate listing on the London Stock Exchange.
Holland-based postal group emerges as the real challenger to Royal Mail with major account wins and delivery trials in urban areas.
Data Locator Group became DLG after a £25m MBO, and followed this by acquiring Wegener DM to create a lifestyle data giant
The postal organisation took a battering from all sides this year - from errant posties, negative media coverage to numerous Postcomm fines.
The WPP-owned agency is no more, after it is merged into sister company RMG Connect.
Indian Call Centres
Continuing bad press, including a damning Channel 4 documentary on data theft, creates a PR issue for brands with India-based centres.
DM's double whammy of irritating consumers and the media, found the industry defending its very existence. In 2007, things can only get better ...