When Marketing Drive opened its doors 11 years ago, it was one of
the first UK agencies aiming to combine sales promotion and direct
marketing in one operation. Now its parent company, international
communications group True North, has decided that it is to be both the
brand and the vehicle for a major international marketing services
One can only hope the two founders have got their passports up to
Mark Timbrell becomes co-CEO of Marketing Drive Worldwide, with Clive
Mishon as president of the promotion group (division) for Europe, Asia
’True North saw the value of doing this as a standalone. We will not be
a network of separate businesses, but a single business with a number of
units,’ says Mishon.
The idea of an international sales promotion or wider below-the-line
service has been around a long time, but has seen some false dawns.
Today, its importance is being grasped. One of the reasons why
Perspectives has joined the WPP fold is that it ’provides the
opportunity develop an increased international presence’.
’Businesses used to get hung up on how you could execute an on-pack
offer in five countries when local regulations varied so much,’ says
Iain Ferguson, chairman of KLP, and CEO for Euro RSCG’s marketing
services in Europe.
’Clients want their brands presented effectively and consistently across
markets, but they don’t expect uniform solutions.
’Many marketing departments we deal with have half a dozen people for
the whole of Europe. They haven’t the time to deal with lots of
agencies, and they need to be able to entrust work to people who can add
Ferguson estimates that Euro RSCG is the third largest in Europe in
marketing services, behind Y&R’s Wunderman Cato Johnson and WPP’s
There is no shortage of contenders. IMP was one of the first to set up a
pan-European network. Chief executive John Quarrey believes it is still
one of the biggest. Evidence of plans to beef this up was the recent
appointment of Laura Jones, deputy managing director in London, as
European business director.
International campaigns, according to Quarrey, fall into three
Some involve central control, others provide a template which can be
varied locally, finally, there are what he calls ’turnkey’ projects,
where everything is tailored to local needs.
’This is useful to show clients,’ he adds, ’because we can demonstrate
that the activity involved in some projects is not worth the
True North’s ambitions for Marketing Drive have already been
The Canadian group Mosaic is following a two-pronged attack, rolling out
its field marketing agencies, EMSChiara and FMCG, and marketing services
arm ZGC, and then ’back-filling’.
’We have a client-led strategy on both sides,’ explains Mark Zimmer,
chairman of ZGC and CEO of Mosaic Group Marketing Services. ’ZGC has
been busy with acquisitions and start-ups in central Europe. Sometimes
we will bring in FMCG too. Conversely, EMSChiara is established in
western Europe, and we are putting our people and skills into their
By joining forces with the US group Havi a couple of years ago, The
Marketing Store took the plunge and became The Marketing Store
Worldwide. International expansion continues - it has acquired a company
in Australia and launched a start-up in Toronto. So far, this is an
embryonic network, with five branches in the UK, two in the US, and
others in Argentina, Hong Kong and Taipei. Even so, international
clients include McDonald’s, Shell and Pepsico.
The latter ran a pan-European promotion linking with Phantom Menace on
Walkers and Lays, the name of the Pepsico crisp brand in European
markets outside the UK. In Europe, packs included a collector card
featuring a Star Wars characters while the UK promotion offered
consumers the chance to win a Jar Jar toy through an in-pack scratch
Lowe’s Interfocus offshoot has been handling a growing amount of
international business from London, for clients such as Eddie Bauer, the
Cotton Council, and Kimberly-Clark. The work has included direct
marketing and product launches, as well as sales promotion.
The company is to open an office in the US, and is close to taking a
stake in agencies in Germany and France. Managing director Matthew
Hooper says he prefers this to making outright acquisitions, as it’s a
common mistake to impose foreign management on a new subsidiary, or make
it too dependent on business fed from abroad.
Meanwhile, Omnicom’s entry in the international stakes is Tequila. Joint
chairman Tom Wass insists flexibility is the key, because brands have
Some companies, such as IBM, want consistent strategies, he says, but
that requires feedback from local markets first, to ensure the central
strategies can be implemented.
’Learning transmission’ is another reason why companies turn to
international agencies, Wass adds. A client with offices throughout the
world may want best practice available to Third World subsidiaries.
Similarly, in some newer markets, local firms want access to best
’We’re regularly asked for campaigns that can run right across Europe,
or for UK campaigns to be adapted for European consumption,’ says
Stephen Callender, a partner in Black Cat.
’Clients with a global presence seem to appreciate that the European
market is different to the US or the Far East. Few are trying to insist
on global campaigns,’ Callender says.
’You need balance,’ says KLP’s Ferguson. ’It’s great there are strong
independents. If you want to play on an international pitch, you have to
know the rules. You have to select your game, and we’ve selected
INDUSTRY VIEWS ON INTERNATIONAL WORK
’There are still lots of clients who would like to see a high degree of
standardisation across Europe. They can do it with advertising and there
are cost savings but the reality is that it is very difficult to achieve
below the line. Sales promotion is about the last piece to fall under
central control because it is about tactical issues, and will always
retain a local flavour.’
John Quarrey, CEO, IMP
’We’ve chosen the global route, but there is room for local hot-shops as
well. You need new kids on the block, new people to challenge the status
quo. You need to be looking over your shoulder.’
Miles Hanson, managing director, The Marketing Store Worldwide
’Clients have purchasing departments who think there are better ways of
buying services than having 52 agencies across 12 markets and, of
course, they’re right. At one time, businesses got hung up on how you
could execute an on-pack offer in five countries when local regulations
varied so much.
That no longer matters. Clients want their brands presented effectively
and consistently across markets, but they don’t expect the same
Iain Ferguson, chairman, KLP
’When you move into Europe, you begin to realise how sophisticated the
UK market is. In Eastern Europe, an ad agency is expected to make the TV
ads and also give away biscuits in the supermarket. ZGC has been busy
with acquisitions and start-ups in central Europe, and sometimes we will
bring in the FMCG (field marketing) offering, too. It is responding to
what the client wants.’
Mark Zimmer, CEO, Mosaic Group Marketing Service.