SALES PROMOTION LEAGUE TABLES 1999: Pushing back the business frontiers - Sales promotion companies are having to rethink their strategies to ensure an international impact

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 organisation.

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

organisation.



One can only hope the two founders have got their passports up to

date.



Mark Timbrell becomes co-CEO of Marketing Drive Worldwide, with Clive

Mishon as president of the promotion group (division) for Europe, Asia

and Africa.



’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

that value.’



Ferguson estimates that Euro RSCG is the third largest in Europe in

marketing services, behind Y&R’s Wunderman Cato Johnson and WPP’s

OgilvyOne.



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.



Differing degrees



International campaigns, according to Quarrey, fall into three

categories.



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

effort.’



True North’s ambitions for Marketing Drive have already been

outlined.



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

offices.’



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

card mechanic.



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

different requirements.



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

practice today.



’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

ours.’



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

solutions everywhere.’



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.



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