As a curtain-raiser for the new millennium, 2000 provided plenty of roller-coaster entertainment. It wasn't a good year if you happened to be in the fuel business, a privatised train operator, or a hopeful dotcom millionaire. Nor was it the time to have any connection with that kiss-of-death disaster, the Dome.
Amid all the successes and failures of the year, some fascinating trends emerged. This was a year of rationalisation, with brands from all areas seeking strength in size. Whether it was ITV's shrinking from three to two companies, while spending the year searching for a chief executive after Richard Eyre left in January - the search continues - advertising and media agencies merging to form global networks, or companies in telecoms and TV pooling resources to buy licences at sky-high prices, this was a year when size mattered.
But, as Barclays Bank found to its cost, brands also had to balance size with empathy. Consumers have never been more willing to punish companies that cross them.
This was also a telling year in new media. The bursting dotcom bubble reminded us that there will be a place for old-fashioned bricks, mortar and telephones for some time yet. Web highs and lows opened our eyes to new ways of doing business - and ways of not doing business. Interactive TV advertising became a reality, the mobile internet arrived - albeit with a whimper - and new hard-drive video recorders threatened to the future of the traditional TV ad.
IT WAS A GOOD YEAR FOR ...
This time last year, Coke was reeling from a string of disasters, not least the Belgian contamination scare of summer 1999. However, since cool-headed Australian Doug Daft took control last December, Coke's fortunes have revived.
Daft's radical 'think local, act local' strategy, which allows regional offices to devise their own marketing strategy and have greater control over new product development, has been a popular move. The fruits of these changes have already been seen in the UK, with a top-to-bottom agency review and the launch of energy drink Burn.
Daft has also softened the image of the soft drink giant, admitting past mistakes and championing a new era of corporate responsibility. Profits are up and the share price is looking good. But Coke isn't out of the woods yet.
Daft's recent failure to seal an acquisition deal for Quaker was an embarrassing blow, especially as archrival PepsiCo took the prize. And in 2001, Coca-Cola is in danger of losing its coveted 'world's biggest brand' crown to Microsoft, which is bound to fuel speculation about Coke's enduring appeal.
A year at the BBC helm has seen Greg Dyke hit the ground running. Cutting costs, Dyke is inevitably making friends and foes. In many areas, such as unravelling some of John Birt's bureaucracy, he's a breath of fresh air. In others, such as the rudderless BBC marketing department, his reorganisation has caused chaos.
But despite some departmental meltdowns, Dyke has made an indelible impression on Auntie. With his vision for five new digital channels, his trumping of ITV over the ever-controversial News at Ten slot and the ramping up of the Beeb's commercial activities, Dyke has got everyone talking about the BBC and its future role. Can it continue to justify the licence fee?
Should it engage in ratings battles with ITV? Will it ever take advertising?
These are all questions Dyke is not afraid of getting into a scrap over, guaranteeing that his tenure will be an entertaining ride.
Not so long ago, Iceland was being written off as too small and unfashionable to survive against the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury's. But this year saw the culmination of an aggressive rescue plan by the retailer. Banning genetically-modified ingredients and embracing e-commerce, Iceland transformed itself from a characterless frozen food chain into a revolutionary family food company.
In June, its efforts were recognised when it won the Marketing Society award for outstanding marketing and achievement.
Iceland's work in e-commerce has also been widely admired. In March, it rebranded its 660 stores to Iceland.co.uk. becoming the first UK retailer to change its core brand in an effort to build a true clicks and mortar sales system. A nationwide home-shopping service was a crucial part of that strategy. Importantly in the cut-throat world of UK food retailing, its sales and profits are in rude health.
Sky had a storming year, setting and meeting some aggressive targets for signing up subscribers to SkyDigital. Expected to reach a target of five million subscribers by the end of 2000, SkyDigital is streets ahead of ONdigital, which hopes to have one million customers by Christmas.
Sky's marketing blitz and set-top box give-aways have created the fastest and most successful digital TV launch in Europe. But success comes at a cost - Sky ran up losses of pounds 123m between July and September, with marketing costs rising by 33% to pounds 104m.
During the year, Sky also made some important deals in the interactive arena. It formed an alliance with TiVo, the much-hyped hard-disk video recorder that the industry fears will help viewers skip TV ads. It also increased its share in Open, the successful interactive shopping channel, from 32.5% to 80.1%.
Channels 4 and 5
In the middle of an otherwise quietish year for Channel 4, the country and the TV industry were gripped by Big Brother fever.
An incredible 70% of the UK population watched at least one episode of the show, with some ten million tuning in for the final instalment. Making C4's rivals green with envy, BB attracted an 80% share of the 18- to 24-year-old viewing audience. An incredible seven-and-a-half million votes were cast in the final phone poll, making it the UK's biggest-ever televote.
The victory was all the sweeter as ITV had turned down the format and TV executives widely predicted the show would bomb.
Like its new ad campaign, Channel 5 was all smiles this year. Although we would rather forget Keith Chegwin's button mushroom in the Naked Quiz Show, C5 enjoyed profitability and an increasing audience share. A shake-up in shareholders, leaving RTL with a 65% stake, led to the departure of chief executive David Elstein. He was replaced by former director of programmes, Dawn Airey.
It was another vintage year for the UK's biggest retailer. It not only beat its supermarket rivals into submission, it also bucked the dotcom downturn by making a success of its internet arm, Tesco.com. In November, it announced its best quarterly sales figures for three years, up 12.7%.
City analysts and rival retailers scratched their heads, wondering how Tesco could get stronger. Chief executive Terry Leahy and deputy chairman David Reid rewarded themselves with salaries of over pounds 1m each.
To cap things off, Tesco and its agency, Lowe Lintas, walked away with the Grand Prix at this year's Institute of Practitioners in Advertising Effectiveness Awards.
This was the year that Sir Martin Sorrell made his WPP Group the undisputed giant of marketing communications.
In a year of huge agency mergers and acquisitions, WPP's acquisition of Young & Rubicam for dollars 4.7bn (pounds 3.3bn) capped the lot.
The addition of a third network to sit alongside Ogilvy & Mather and J Walter Thompson, gives WPP billings of dollars 54bn (pounds 37.2bn) and 1200 offices in 100 countries. After months of on-off negotiations with Y&R, the dollars 4.7bn deal finally catapulted WPP past Omnicom into the marcoms top slot.
Sir Martin scored another coup later in the year, when he brokered a deal for Boots to pool its entire pounds 80m global marketing account into WPP.
IT WAS A BAD YEAR FOR ...
Marks & Spencer
Despite its best efforts, M&S is still struggling. It appointed a new executive chairman, Luc Vandevelde, in February, launched a 'fresh' new identity by Interbrand Newell and Sorrell in March and invested heavily in revamping its dowdy stores.
Having called advertising and media agency pitches in February, M&S installed Rainey Kelley Campbell Roalfe/Y&R and Walker Media over the summer. This culminated in the advertising event of the year when, in September, the retailer unveiled its first ever heavyweight TV ad campaign.
Featuring a size-16 naked model yelling 'I'm normal'from the hilltops, the daring campaign grabbed the headlines but, along with all the other initiatives, failed to turn M&S around. Sales tumbled 17% in November and in October shares dipped below pounds 2 - a ten-year low.
Procter & Gamble
Alarm bells have been ringing at the FMCG giant this year, with three profits warnings in just six months and 10% wiped off its value in May. The 28% fall in earnings was P&G's worst performance in nine years.
P&G's UK operations felt the full effects of the downturn. In May, P&G announced it was slashing 25% (about pounds 15m) from its TV advertising budget for the first half of the year. With pounds 8m coming out of ITV alone, the cuts sent shockwaves through broadcasters, prompting them to hold urgent talks with P&G's media director, Bernard Balderston. Over-optimistic expansion in its paper products portfolio and falling sales in its food division - including star brand Sunny Delight - are blamed for P&G's woes.
This was a crisis year for BT. Stiff competition, the huge cost of paying for 3G mobile phone licences and pressure from Oftel to lower its prices, have all taken their toll on BT, which recently saw its shares hit a 31-month low. It also announced plans to float its wireless and network divisions in a desperate bid to cut its debt by pounds 10bn.
It has spent much of the year on the defensive, infuriating the new media world and Oftel by stubbornly refusing to lower the cost of web access.
AltaVista and other ISPs that failed to get unmetered internet packages off the ground, accused BT of sabotaging their efforts.
BT's advertising has also come in for stick. The ET campaign irritated us into submission and the 'Surf the Net. Surf the BT Cellnet' campaign was accused of over-inflating consumer expectations of WAP. On top of all that, BT failed to establish itself as a force on the international scene, looking slow and lumbering compared with rivals Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and NTT.
Barclays lurched from one self-inflicted PR disaster to another. First, it infuriated other banks and consumers with its plans to introduce charges for using its cashpoints. Then, just as it needed to improve its image, it announced plans to close 171 branches, many in poorly served rural areas. It didn't take a genius to spot the contradiction between Barclays 'big bank' ads and its shrinking network. NatWest gleefully seized on the mess for its new ad campaign, featuring confused customers finding their local bank turned into a wine bar.
As if things couldn't get worse, Barclays' internet banking service was breached by a security lapse in August and forced to suspend service.
The UK's best-known loyalty brand hit serious turbulence this year, losing two chiefs in six months and raising doubts about its future relationship with British Airways. The departure of Wanda Goldwag in June and Judith Thorne in October occurred amid growing acrimonious relations between Air Miles and BA.
Trouble flared when the airline launched BA Miles, a separate currency aimed at BA frequent flyers - a move which Air Miles said diluted its offering. Air Miles is also furious at rumours that BA's boss, Rod Eddington, wants to absorb Air Miles into BA under centralised management.
A year's a long time in retail. Twelve months ago, Gap was the darling of high street fashion. Now it's in trouble, having lost 54% of its value in eight months. Hamstrung by an over-ambitious store-opening programme and under fire for using sweatshop child labour in Cambodia, Gap has financial and image problems. Its West Side story ads and other high-profile marketing initiatives have also been blamed for the brand's demise. Trying to be too fashionable, instead of talking to 30-somethings, is its chief problem, say observers.
A YEAR IN THE DEATH OF THE DOME
Few can forget the debacle that is the Dome. Costing nearly pounds 630m and attracting a fraction of its 12 million visitor target, the Dome is the mother of all white elephants. Here's how it all went wrong.
The Dome's big night on Millennium Eve provided a taste of things to come, with VIP guests and sponsors forced to wait three hours to get in.
By the end of its first week, sponsors were ringing alarm bells. Boots hit out at the queuing times for its Body Zone and lack of exposure for its brand.
After only a month in business, and with 5000 visitors - way below the 33,000 daily break-even target - the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) got its first emergency hand-out of pounds 60m from the National Lottery.
Sponsor unrest continued and in February, Manpower boss Iain Herbertson called for a new management team. His wish was granted and, shortly afterward, NMEC chief executive Jennie Page was ousted. Disney 'whizkid' Pierre-Yves Gerbeau took over and was immediately mired in controversy. It emerged he wasn't the saviour of EuroDisney after all.
In May, BA chief Bob Ayling became the latest Dome fall-guy when he was axed as chairman. In June, the Dome got yet another emergency bail-out, of pounds 29m.
In July, Japanese investment bank Nomura agreed to buy the Dome, and NMEC was advanced yet more cash from the sale - pounds 43m - to keep it afloat.
That ran out in September, and with public outrage reaching boiling point, NMEC was given pounds 47m of Lottery funds to stave off bankruptcy.
Trouble-shooter David James down-graded visitor targets to four-and-a-half million. Shortly afterward, having seen the extent of the Dome's financial black hole, Nomura withdrew its pounds 105m buyout offer.
In November, a National Audit Office report said NMEC relied too heavily on the attraction marketing itself. NMEC marketing director, Sholto Douglas-Home, agreed and said his pounds 10m marketing budget was not enough. He said: 'It's been like working with one arm tied behind my back.'
In late November, the Dome was saved from demolition when the government cut a deal with Legacy to turn the space into a business park. An attempted jewel heist proved one of its best attractions. In a last-ditch attempt to attract visitors, NMEC halved the entry fee to pounds 10 and launched an ad campaign saying, 'If you don't go, you'll never know'.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
Easy Group marketing director Tony Anderson (pictured) leaves to become retail marketing director of Egg. AA group marketing director Bob Sinclair quits as Centrica announces a shake-up. Sir Peter Davies takes over from ousted Dino Adriano as chief executive of Sainsbury's. Tesco communications chief Andrew Coker joins Coca-Cola.
Marks & Spencer gains Luc Vandevelde as chief executive but loses senior marketer Kim Winser to Pringle knitwear. Zoe Morgan becomes first ever female marketing chief at Boots. Ex-Unilever executive Tom Allchurch joins Amazon.co.uk as marketing director.
Sainsbury's stores director Kevin McCarten leaves in a management shake-up. Pete Richardson joins BT Cellnet as sales and marketing director. BBC Productions chief executive Matthew Bannister is appointed BBC marketing supremo over the head of Sue Farr, director of BBC public service marketing. Farr quits shortly after.
Carolyn McCall (pictured) becomes managing director of Guardian Newspapers, replacing the retiring Caroline Marland. Beeb.com founders Andy Conroy and Mike Clowes both defect to a digital consultancy.
It's all change at Coca-Cola, as global advertising head Ian Rowden is axed. Tesco marketing director Tim Mason is names as chairman of new e-offshot, Tesco.com. Sega's European marketing director Giles Thomas leaves in a shake-up. Andrew Harrison (pictured), Coke GB's marketing chief quits for Nestle and is replaced by Charlotte Oades. Rod Eddington succeeds Bob Ayling at the helm of BA.
Trish Wadley becomes marketing director of The Independent and Independent on Sunday. Dixon's marketing director Chris Langley is promoted to managing director. B&Q marketing director Stephen Robertson becomes managing director of web DIY business, e-Kingfisher.
Mars global advertising chief Malcolm Earnshaw (pictured) is named as the incoming director-general of the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, replacing retiring John Hooper. Ed Aspel, marketing director of Thomson Holidays, quits after just a month.
J Walter Thompson boss Stephen Carter (pictured) is the latest name to come and go in the ITV chief hunt. A month later, he leaves to take charge at NTL. Stephen Barnett becomes marketing director at struggling Somerfield, after an eight-month search for a new head.
Senior UDV marketer Kim Manley defects to Allied Domecq, becoming chief marketing officer. Blockbuster marketer Siobhan Chatburn (pictured) becomes marketing director at Argos. DM guru Judith Donovan leaves Judith Donovan Associates. Tim Evans becomes marketing director of BT's UK consumer division.
QXL marketer Alex Czajkowski is the latest high-profile exit from QXL and Simon Lowden (pictured) is named as Pepsi's first international e-marketing and media director. BBC marketing chief Matthew Bannister quits after seven chaotic months.
NatWest marketing chief Ian Schoolar becomes the first marketing director at the Inland Revenue. Perpetual mover and ex-Sun marketer Ellis Watson joins Celador Productions as head of digital. Heinz's Clodagh Ward is named New Marketer of the Year. Dawn Airey takes over from David Elstein as chief executive of Channel 5.
FROM DOTCOM TO DOT-GONE: THE NEW MEDIA MELTDOWN
The internet sector seemed like the promised land at the start of the year. Marketing's salary survey revealed marketers being tempted by dotcoms paying over pounds 70,000 a year on average.
And you can see why. Encouraged by infinite venture capitalist funding, dotcom IPOs were raising silly money. Lastminute.com symbolised the boom, ending its first day on the stock market in March with a valuation of pounds 733m. Its founders, Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman, netted a fortune of pounds 110m.
But in April the Nasdaq crashed, sending internet stocks into freefall.
Freeserve fell to half the pounds 8bn it was valued at in February, and Amazon's pounds 20.5bn value plummeted to pounds 13.9bn.
The demise of Boo.com in May was the first high-profile casualty, burning through pounds 90m of investors' money from launch to crash in just six months.
It was soon followed by Clickmango, Boxman, Worldsport and, most recently, TheStreet.co.uk and Ready2Shop.com.
Suddenly, venture capitalists didn't want to touch business-to-consumer (B2C) dotcom ideas, IPOs were off the agenda and ad agencies, which had gleefully poured dotcom cash into lavish but ineffective campaigns, were wondering where the money had gone. Having jumped onto the bandwagon at the start of the year, marketers were soon jumping off. B2C became a by-word for 'back to consultancy' and B2B 'back to banking'.
Funnily enough, the brand that started it all, Lastminute.com, is one of the few survivors. Buoyed by the recruitment of non-executive chairman Allan Leighton in October, the company is hanging in there. Ironically, having just announced a pounds 36m loss, Lastminute recently announced it is turning to the old-fashioned telephone to boost sales.
This article was first published on Marketing