SUPPLEMENT: SALES PROMOTION; Shaken out but not stirred

Are those who say the recession was good news for the industry clutching at straws or simply hard-headed? Ken Gofton reports

Are those who say the recession was good news for the industry clutching

at straws or simply hard-headed? Ken Gofton reports

According to Graham Kemp, chairman of The Marketing Store, the recession

years have been good news for the sales promotion industry.

How’s that? The pressures brought about by the recession, he argues,

mean that ‘clients have learned to use below-the-line techniques in a

very powerful way. We now have tremendous case histories on which to

build our future success. Walkers, for instance, has been at the leading

edge in the positive use of promotions to build sales and brand


‘We are increasingly able to deploy the skills learned during this time

in international markets.’

Kemp’s comments pull together two themes emerging from this year’s

survey. One is an increasing strategic role for below-the-line agencies,

the other is a growing demand for international programmes.

Support comes from Iain Ferguson, chairman and managing director of KLP

Marketing, who argues that the industry is polarising in two ways:

first, between those who ‘understand and drive integrated solutions

focused on the end, not the means - as opposed to those who prefer

demarcation, pigeon holes and safety’; and second, between those who

‘have the capacity to conceive work which delivers effectively across

international borders - as opposed to those who think small and act


The international side might not be huge yet. But as well as these two,

you have agencies such as, for example; Wunderman Cato Johnson, working

for Pepsi across several European countries; kids’ promo specialist

Logistix, with an office in Paris and plans to open more; and road show

expert Barnett Fletcher, working for Nestle worldwide. Promotional

Campaigns has set up EFPC, a joint venture with a fellow WPP subsidiary

Einson Freeman in the US, to offer a worldwide service. Its first

account win is IBM.

There is no question that some work is becoming more strategic, which

means both bigger budgets and longer time scales. Perhaps as a result of

the recession, the agencies have at last got their feet under the top

table. ‘We’re increasingly being invited to think-tanks on the best way

to take brands forward, ’ says Sue Rule, group account director at The

Business Development Partnership. ‘That certainly didn’t happen five

years ago. It’s the idea that counts now, not where it comes from.’

‘Cadbury’s sponsorship of Coronation Street, I am confident, will prove

to be one of the best marketing coups of the year,’ claims Kevin

Twittey, Triangle’s chairman. ‘It will have a major impact on its

corporate branding, while also providing a fantastic property that can

be exploited at a tactical level.’

And if KLP’s Ferguson thinks that consultancies are polarising, Twittey

maintains that clients are as well - between those which understand

promotion’s role and set realistic, achievable objectives and ‘those

that ask for the earth on minuscule budgets’.

That leads to the other question: a widespread belief that margins are

unrealistic. Robert Janes, president of Carlson, believes this is the

biggest issue facing the industry. But clients also face a squeeze and

the truth is that there are a lot of hungry young agencies out there,

which are anxious to get a foot in the door.

Claydon Healey International

A near-doubling of turnover has propelled the six-year-old Claydon

Healey into the industry’s top 20. ‘The business strategy is always the

same,’ says director Leo Campbell. ‘Focus on gaining footholds, however

small, in major blue-chip companies, work your nuts off to impress them,

and then pick up incremental work from within those organisations by


‘Unilever is a classic example. From a starting point of a single pounds

50,000 brief from Brooke Bond four years ago, we are now one of

Unilever’s key, below-the-line resources, working at present across 19


‘Though the agency’s origins were in sales promotion, it is difficult to

pigeonhole us in the traditional agency boxes...Integration works right

down to account group level, with each team benefiting from expertise

across the direct marketing, sales promotion and advertising

disciplines. There is a term used by scientists who study genetics

known as, hybrid vigour, which we apply to our structure.’


Only a year older than Claydon Healey, Logistix has also had a fast ride

up the charts. ‘We have enjoyed consistent growth, but the latest jump

into a different division is quite exciting stuff,’ admits managing

director Ian Madeley.

‘You have to look back three years, when we took a calculated decision

to concentrate on kids’ promotions. You can’t do that without taking the

clients with you. From what they tell us, we have a unique combination

of resources in areas such as market research, knowledge of licensing

developments and legislation.’

That expertise has led to a demand for Logistix’s services across

Europe. It has an office in Paris and most staff have language skills.

Total staff is only 15, although the company is recruiting. ‘Yes, we’re

lean and mean. But it’s also true that many of the promotions we do are

very big - perhaps pounds 500,000 a time,’ says Madeley.


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