TOP 50: HI-TECH PR: Text 100 shifts emphasis to target consumers Firefly wins Cisco Systems and Sema.

1 Text 100 (No change)

1 Text 100 (No change)

pounds 5,097,800

Text 100 topped pounds 5 million last year and in March this year

floated part of the company on the OFEX market. Managing director Katie

Kemp says that the agency hopes to take a full stock exchange listing

within the next five years.

’We are about to reorganise as individual small businesses,’ says Kemp,

’each headed by an associate director with a separate business plan,’

she says. ’This will give a small company feel in terms of service but a

large company feel in terms of resources.’ A key goal for Kemp has been

growing the consumer side of the business. She notes: ’With a recent win

such as Orange, about 70 per cent of our work is likely to be targeted

at consumers.’

Last year the agency won games manufacturers 7th Level and Berkeley

Systems and telecoms companies D-Link and Swatch Telecom as well as

exhibition firm IT Forum DASAR, Phonelink, an on-line information

service, retailer Dixons - The Link and Visa International for its

electronic systems. It lost Olivetti and resigned Bull Systems.

Last year the agency also started a public affairs division. Kemp says:

’As the industry has matured there is more awareness of corporate

responsibility and that government decision making is affecting

technology companies.’

2 A Plus (No change)

pounds 3,899,610

US-based Omnicom’s 20 per cent stake in A Plus last year is helping the

agency in its move to create strong global brands for clients. Managing

director Mike Copland says: ’We have consolidated our European

capability through our Euro Plus network and international links via

Omnicom. The technology sector has been US-driven but we make sure their

promotional programmes are put into a European context by making them

relevant to local markets.’

New business wins include Internet service provider Netcom, Iomega (one

of Omnicom’s international clients), telecoms supplier Nortel, computer

systems supplier Pyramid, data base vendor Sybase, 3M and Sharp. The

company was also hired by Taskforce 2000, a Government agency working on

computer data change in the year 2000.

On the downside, the agency lost Novell after holding the account for

eight years as well as Informix Software, part of CompuServe on the

consumer information service side, although it is still working on its

network services.

For the future, Copland sees ’increasing sophistication in targeting PR

and measuring value for money. Budgets have shifted from advertising to

PR and there is increased expectation of hard results and


The days of selling on technology merit alone have gone. Companies are

being forced to look at brands, market segmentation and customer


The market is also taking on consumer characteristics as technology is

moving into the high street.’

4 Firefly Communications (Climber)

pounds 2,370,046

Firefly Communications almost doubled its fee income last year with

hi-tech accounting for 95 per cent of its business. The bulk of its

business is coming as a result of areas of technological change in the

hi-tech industry.

’People in IT are now producing systems which receive broadcast TV and

digital. And clients such as Sony Broadcast and Professional are

involved in merging areas such as networking, broadcast entertainment

and video technology,’ says director Mark Mellor.

A dozen new retainer clients contributed to the increase in fee


These included database software company Informix, networking

infrastructure company Cisco Systems, IT services company Sema Group

plc, global network services company SITA, Sony Broadcast and

Professional, computer distribution services Tplc, network analysis

software supplier Network General and network integration services


Campaigns included a cost of ownership campaign for computer vendor

Compaq, which looked at the maintenance and software costs of computers.

It also carried out a high profile campaign for on-line provider Reuters

called ’Information Overload’ which involved a study on how people’s

lives were affected by receiving too much information.

The agency lost four clients. The most significant was software company,

SSA, but losses also included software games industry association,

ELSPA, network cabling company CCC and on-line information company


5 Harvard PR (Faller)

pounds 2,336,750

The blurring of the lines between the SoHo, business and consumer

markets helped hi-tech to contribute 65 per cent to overall fee income

at Harvard PR in 1996, up from 60 per cent the previous year. ’This

means that the PR challenge is to promote technology products that are

often bought with corporate money but that are specified and chosen by

non-technical individuals,’ says managing director Nicholas Taylor.

Winning business from computer games manufacturer Nintendo last year

opened the door for more consumer-oriented wins, including Carlton Home

Entertainment, CompuServe, Agfa-Gevaert and hand-held organisers


And with the SoHo market taking off, the agency won business from Texas

Instruments to promote its TravelMate and Extensa notebook range. The

agency is also active in Internet PR representing service providers

CompuServe and Demon Internet, Motorola ISG, Backweb Internet software

as well as Linx, the body representing European service providers.

Taylor claims that diversified agencies can often serve hi-tech clients

better, especially as these clients are beginning to communicate with a

wider audience base.

8 The Weber Group Europe (Faller)

pounds 1,548,422

Advertising budgets are increasingly shifting towards more

cost-effective PR solutions and last year the McCann-Erickson group

bought hi-tech specialist The Weber Group Europe as a building block for

its PR empire.

’People are looking for more global account management,’ says managing

director Greg Levendusky. ’I’m looking for more IT acquisitions in


There is always the need to adapt to local markets and we will be

acquiring the best firms in their individual country markets.’

The UK is an important part of Weber’s global strategy. Levendusky says:

’The UK is fertile ground for development and we see it as an important

marketplace for our global PR capabilities.’

Last year the agency won leading networking company3Com, Zuno (which

makes intelligent agent technology for computer networks), Deloitte and

Touche, and the Greater Washington Initiative, which represents

Washington DC to technology companies. It lost Digital to Shandwick

although it still does some minor work for the company.

Earlier this year the agency also started up a public affairs unit. ’We

see that as a growing area this year with opportunities for clients to

increase their visibility and influence with other companies,’ says


9 Ogilvy Adams and Rinehart (Climber)

pounds 1,174,250

Ogilvy Adams and Rinehart restructured along practice management lines

at the turn of the year which resulted in the squeezing out of chief

executive Fiona Driscoll. Director Lyle Closs says that hi-tech

accounted for 55 per cent of fee income last year, taking the agency up

from 19th in the hi-tech league to ninth place. During the year the

agency won Internet security company Trusted Information Systems with

work on firewall software strategic communications.

But most of the year was taken up with existing client IBM and the

increase in the agency’s fee income is due largely to increased IBM

business. The agency’s London office is a centre for pan European and

international co-ordination work for IBM, working with local agencies in

IBM’s various markets covering over 30 countries.

The agency was also involved in IBM’s sponsorship of the Olympic Games

in Atlanta and co-ordinated the CeBit 96 computer exhibition in


’A dominant trend we are seeing in our business is the growth in

importance of the Internet and network computing,’ says Closs. ’IBM has

been emphasising these strategic areas and the technology is also

impacting us as we drive these strategies through.’

27 Icas PR (Climber)

pounds 618,821

Icas PR put its new IT division into top gear last year with the

recruitment of director Cathy Pittham. The co-founder and former

director of hi-tech and consumer agency Spreckley Pittham joined the

Hemel Hempstead-based agency in May with a brief to build up the

agency’s IT, communications and media business. Before this the agency’s

only IT account was personnel company Apex Computer Recruitment.

’We are a corporate and business-to-business agency and could see that

these areas were not growing as fast as IT,’ says managing director Carl

Courtney. ’Last year we put all our energies into growing the IT


Many IT specialists are good at the technical and services level but do

not understand corporate PR. But now IT companies are wanting to profile

their business as well as products and services.’

IT now contributes 35 per cent of the agency’s overall fee income, up

from 20 per cent the previous year. This followed wins last year

including Californian broadcast systems company Pinnacle Systems, global

positioning satellite systems manufacturer Trimble, Santa Cruz

Organisation, New World Payphones, the second largest provider of

payphones in the UK to BT, telecoms platforms company Telsis, and CSB, a

specialist in computer disaster recovery systems. And at the end of the

year it won SAS Institute, a US information systems company.

34 Banner PR (New entry)

pounds 509,582

Hi-tech specialist, Banner PR opened for business in May 1995 and in

1996 topped the half a million mark . About 65 per cent of our European

PR is handled from London, particularly for US companies,’ says director

Robert Hollier. ’Our centralised approach offers significant benefits

over traditional PR networks. Another area for us is corporate PR for

hi-tech clients and we are strong at product PR, especially running

campaigns in many countries.’

Last year the agency won Taiwanese manufacturer of Macintosh compatibles

Umax, MicroTouch, US exhibition organiser SPG, and Magic Software, an

Israeli software company. It stopped working for Comdex, which is

involved in IT trade shows, as well as Alcatel Data Networks, the French

data networks company.

According to Hollier clients are coming to the table with a clearer idea

of their communication requirements. ’Companies used to approach

agencies for PR, now they approach with a specific business problem and

want a solution.’

Another trend is the move towards variable fee relationships between

client and agency, often based upon sound evaluation of measurable

business objectives. ’Remuneration is becoming linked to getting results

and that is the way it is likely to continue,’ says Hollier. ’We frame

targets which are ambitious, but achievable.’

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