ONE VISION: Improving communications between disciplines means improving
communications with customers
INTEGRATION INITIATIVE: Job swaps and access to other agencies’
training schemes can boost joint ambitions
MARKET WINNERS: Integrated success stories require commitment and
understanding from the client
Despite all the hot air expended on the desirability of integrated
marketing campaigns, the secret of success is still client commitment to
Question: what do sex and integrated marketing have in common? Answer:
both tend to be talked about loudly by people with little practical
experience of the matter.
It’s a cruel jibe but one with more than an iota of truth. And it must
be so. How else can one explain away the fact that integration has been
the ‘next big thing’ for longer than anyone cares to remember?
There has been a lot of hollow droning on the subject, but at the same
time it must be acknowledged that a growing number of marketers are
truly moving towards greater integration of their communications. As
budgets tighten, consistency and effectiveness of message across the
spectrum of marketing disciplines is of major importance to clients.
The Integrated Marketing Communications Initiative (see panel on next
page) illustrates that agencies are taking integration seriously. But
what is happening on a day-to-day basis? Is integration really beginning
to take hold?
‘Clients now want their communications agencies to take the ‘one vision’
approach to their brands,’ says Simon Clark, chief executive of
integrated agency Clark & Taylor. ‘That is to say that at every point
where the product or service touches the consumer, the message must be
Hill and Knowlton chairman Antony Snow reels off a list of clients for
which his agency is working on integrated campaigns: Kodak, Black &
Decker, Vauxhall, Walkers and Adidas. Yet Snow thinks that not nearly
enough clients are committed to integrating their marketing. ‘I’m
astounded that it doesn’t happen more often as it’s such an obvious way
to go,’ he says. ‘But there are a number of deterrents.’
A prime ‘deterrent’ is the way in which many clients are structured,
with brand, communications and advertising managers all having separate
spheres of responsibility.
For clients with this kind of structure, assessing a joint pitch can be
‘The client can’t judge a joint pitch unless he draws in people who
don’t normally meet together,’ says Snow. ‘The brand manager isn’t used
to dealing with PR unless he works for a company with fairly
Yet some clients plainly do possess the sophistication necessary to
harness their marketing agencies to pull in the same direction. Tetley,
for instance, holds what it calls its ‘gang of four’ meetings once a
quarter. This is attended by members of Tetley’s marketing team and
representatives from its PR consultancy Biss Lancaster, ad agency D’Arcy
Masius Benton & Bowles and sales promotion house Geoff Howe &
These sessions are used for brainstorming and developing ideas that can
be exploited through the line. Last year’s marketing support for the
21st birthday of the Tetley Tea folk emerged in this way and, although
it was PR-driven, enjoyed input and support from the ad agency.
Confectionery company Terry’s Suchard has adopted a similar approach to
Tetley. Earlier this year it set up what it terms a ‘board of managers’
to work on several projects for brands such as Terry’s Chocolate Orange,
Toblerone, All Gold and Dime.
These boards comprise its own marketing, sales, production and research
staff as well as account handlers and creatives from its agencies, which
include PR consultancy Countrywide, ad agencies Young & Rubicam and BMP
DDB Needham, sales promotion company Claydon Healey and design
specialist Design Bridge.
In order to further boost its integration, Terry’s is considering paying
its marketing consultancies ‘incentives’ for coming up with ideas that
can be implemented across an array of marketing disciplines.
‘People have to think through how the other parties can be involved,’
says Countrywide senior consultant Keith Taylor.
That Terry’s has chosen to bring its sales team into the integration
equation is something that other clients and indeed agencies should
consider. ‘The link with sales is critical and it’s one that’s often
missed,’ says Jackie Cooper PR managing director Robert Phillips. On its
work for longstanding client Playtex Wonderbra, part of Jackie Cooper’s
brief was to help with the ‘sell-in process’ to key accounts, such as
House of Fraser and John Lewis as well as working closely with ad agency
TBWA (see case history).
This sort of implementation is fine, but what problems do PR
consultancies and other marketing services agencies face when they pitch
jointly for integrated business?
‘Joint pitches can be difficult,’ says Biss Lancaster director Pippa
Sands. ‘Often we’ll seek to interpret brand strategy differently from an
ad agency because advertising tends to be more literal.’
Joint pitches are generally at their smoothest when one of the partners
acts as lead agency. Often, the ad agency fulfils this role. But in many
ways PR is better suited to take on that mantle.
A good example of this came in the summer when Charles Barker took the
lead in a successful joint pitch for the integrated account for the 1996
Motor Show, which takes place at Birmingham’s NEC next autumn. It
formed the Charles Barker Partnership featuring media buyer Zenith,
sales promotion agency Communicator and event management company ICP.
Charles Barker director Steve Gebbett, who is also chairman of the IPR’s
marketing communications group, holds the view that joint pitches only
work if there is a lead agency in place to ensure each part of the
presentation flows together in the ‘same style’.
It can’t be stressed enough: agencies need to develop an insight into
what other parties bring to the marketing mix. They cannot be
proprietorial about their ideas. If they are, it will be to the benefit
of the one-stop-shops who can argue persuasively that they are able to
offer impartial advice.
‘We have no axe to grind because we don’t have separate profit centres,’
says Chris Parry, chief executive through-the-line one-stop shop of
Impact FCA! ‘It doesn’t matter where the money goes because we want the
client to spend the money in the way that’s most successful for them -
if they’re successful, we’re successful.’
Finally, a paradox. Although many of the leading PR consultancies are
part of marketing services groups that also own advertising agencies,
many of the best integrated campaigns feature agencies from separate
Common ownership, it would seem, is not the be all and end all. Agencies
can work together to produce effective integrated marketing - as long as
they and the client have the will to do so.
Case study: Virgin PEPs up the personal finance market
In March this year, Virgin Group entered the financial services sector
when its new personal finance arm Virgin Direct launched a ‘tracking’
Personal Equity Plan - a PEP that tracks the FT-SE (Footsie) Actuaries
All-Share Index by purchasing shares in all 900-plus listed companies.
In the short space of time since then, investors have ploughed over
pounds 100 million into Virgin’s PEP.
As PR Week reported in September, research showed that following the
launch of Virgin’s PEP, sales worth pounds 22 million could be directly
attributed to editorial coverage generated by PR - not bad for a six-
week PR burst with a budget of pounds 18,000.
But there was more to the almost instantaneous success of Virgin’s
product than PR alone. For although it was PR-led, the marketing
campaign by Virgin’s agency Consolidated Communications is a good
example of how public relations and advertising can be integrated to
It all began in autumn 1994 with Consolidated managing director Alastair
Gornall working two days a week as part of the Virgin Direct team at
Richard Branson’s home-cum-office in Holland Park. The team assessed
over 1,000 personal finance products on the market in order to identify
opportunities, with Gornall providing a fair amount of input to this
product development process.
‘It was our recommendation that Virgin went with a PEP,’ says Gornall.
‘It was a product that had a clearly defined market.’
Once the nature of the product had been decided, Consolidated worked
closely with the Virgin team on the run up to the launch, with the aim
of maximising coverage in the core target media: the personal finance
pages of the national newspapers.
Consolidated also drew on its in-house creative talent to write the copy
for the ads, which were intended to position Virgin as a breath of fresh
air in the market.
The resulting ads carried headlines such as: ‘Guff, Waffle, Jargon,
Bulldroppings - a few things missing from Virgin’s PEP’.
‘You are looking at a PR company that was intimately involved in the
development of the message so the evolution of it into advertising was a
natural one,’ says Gornall.
Where possible, Consolidated sought to book advertisements in editions
that were giving editorial coverage to the product.
‘Consolidated helped us refine our own messages with some very tight
principles that then came through in the advertising,’ says Virgin
Direct marketing director Tony Wood. ‘They’ve also helped us make sure
that future product design is in keeping with those principles.’
Case study: LFC creates capital character
The London First Centre was established in April 1994 as a public
private sector inward investment agency for the capital.
In August 1994, it appointed Grey Communications Group to implement an
integrated PR and marketing campaign across the UK, USA and Far East.
Two agencies - PR consultancy GCI and marketing integration specialist
Grey Integrated - worked hand-in-hand on shaping the campaign. A third,
Grey Advertising, provided support. Their initial brief was to design
and produce a strong corporate identity for LFC, launch it to the UK and
international press, produce an interim brochure and advertisement and
provide day-to-day PR support.
A key part of the second phase of the campaign was to develop a brand
character for the city of London - which was used internally to sharpen
up the way London was presented in the external marketing. Most of the
branding work was done by Grey Integrated.
‘Primarily our role was as brand consultants,’ says Grey Integrated
managing director Nick Spindler. ‘I don’t think anyone had tried to
apply the concept of a brand to a city before. Our job was to analyse
the rational and emotional aspects of London as a brand.’
Objectives of the campaign included creating awareness of LFC and
motivating the client’s target audience to talk about London in a
positive light. The campaign was developed on the back of research
carried out by the Henley Centre on the location requirements of
executives running trans-national corporations.
To spread the message, LFC and Grey enlisted over 400 of London’s top
businessmen to act as ‘envoys’ selling the capital worldwide. This
initiative was launched at a conference at the QEII centre on 21 July
‘Where we had to be structured and clear was [about defining] the
product,’ says GCI director Nicholas Walters. ‘There was a lot of hot
air talked about London.’
The agencies reported to LFC’s chief executive Honor Chapman, who was
seconded from international property advisers Jones Lang Wootton, and
its marketing director Robert Gordon Clark. In effect, Spindler,
Walters, Chapman and Gordon Clark were the nucleus of the campaign team
- working together on campaign R&D for eight months prior to its launch.
‘London is an incredibly complicated product, which is why I went for
the integrated approach,’ says Gordon Clark.
IMCI integration provide the first step on a long road
The Integrated Marketing Communications Initiative (IMCI) will be two
years old in February. But its birthday celebrations are likely to be
The initiative was born out of good intentions, with the trade bodies
for PR (PRCA), advertising (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising),
sales promotion (Sales Promotion Consultants Association) and direct
marketing (Direct Marketing Association) coming together in an attempt
to improve understanding of what each contributed to the marketing mix.
It was reasoned that by removing their blinkers and opening their eyes
to what their counterparts in different disciplines had to offer,
consultants and marketers would learn about integration and be in a
better position to service their clients.
While the logic behind the initiative remains unimpeachable, it has
failed to capture the imagination in the way that early enthusiasm for
the project suggested it might.
‘The truth is that it has plateaued,’ says PRCA chairman Quentin Bell,
the driving force behind the initiative.‘We have all agreed in principle
for a register which will allow staff from any member agency to take
work placements in other agencies. We’ve had a few but it’s
disappointing. It needs a concerted effort to keep it in the mind’s
Funding is a bone of contention. Bell was outvoted three to one when he
proposed raising money for a campaign promoting the benefits of
integrated communications, even though he suggested that it might be
possible to part-fund this with cash from the DTI.
However, although IMCI hasn’t set the world on fire it would be wrong to
dismiss it as a failure. Over 60 agencies are offering work placements
or places on their training courses to people from other disciplines,
giving one the distinct impression that in the future there will be far
less insularity among marketers.
‘We’re still driving forward,’ says Bell, ‘but not at the pace I’d
IPA director of training and development Miranda Kennett adds: ‘My own
view is that job swaps and access to each other’s training are helpful
but only a first stage. That doesn’t necessarily teach you integrated
thinking. So next year I’d like to see how we can start to get people
Case study: Wonderbra
Playtex’s highly successful integrated marketing campaign on behalf of
Wonderbra has taken another high-profile twist, with a revolutionary new
Adshel campaign featuring supermodel Eva Herzigova.
Jackie Cooper PR, TBWA and media buying shop Eurospace have been jointly
responsible for duping commuters into thinking they had just discovered
Herzigova waiting for a bus in little more than a Wonderbra.
It was Eurospace who initially flagged up the Adshel concept, which
involved TBWA photographing a bus stop stripped of ads and then
superimposing a photograph of Herzigova modelling the Playtex product.
Jackie Cooper then arranged a national photocall of the flagship bus
stop on Kings Road on 30 November.
Jackie Cooper PR has worked with Playtex for nine years and was part of
a ‘brand community’ responsible for relaunching Wonderbra in 1993 when
the licence transferred to Playtex from Gossard. In the first year of
the campaign Jackie Cooper PR worked closely with Playtex’s sales and
marketing team, plus ad agency TBWA on positioning Wonderbra as a
generic for the ‘push up and plunge’ category.
Due to licensing restrictions, the team was unable to launch a consumer
PR or advertising campaign until January 1994. But its initial focus on
the trade press and on key trade accounts, followed up by the memorable
Wonderbra advertising campaign, succeeded in almost tripling the size of
the ‘push up and plunge’ market sector, from only 3 per cent of the
total bra market in 1993 to 8.3 per cent in 1995.
The task now faced by the cross-discipline team is sustaining the level
of interest in Wonderbra. The new Herzigova ad is the culmination of a
year of high-profile activities including a charity fashion show
organised in conjunction with the fashion industry Aids charity
initiative Fashion Acts and National Wonderbra Week, which coincided
with the launch of TBWA’s latest ad campaign.
Robert Phillips, founding partner of Jackie Cooper PR says: ‘From the
beginning we knew that the relationship between advertising and PR was
critical if the campaign was going to work for sales and if we were to
make every marketing pound worth its weight in gold.’
Case study: Elida Gibbs gets in a lather over Organics
Elida Gibbs launched its Organics brand of shampoo in the UK in mid-
1994. A year later brand sales monitoring company IRI Infoscan logged
Organics as the second biggest shampoo brand in the country.
This achievement was largely due to the integrated approach to marketing
adopted by the client and its agencies, with PR consultancy Burson-
Marsteller and advertising agency J Walter Thompson meeting regularly
with marketers from the client to form an ‘extended brand team’.
The success enjoyed by rival brand Pantene’s strategy of publicising
its endorsements from journalists and beauty experts persuaded Elida
Gibbs and its agencies that their own communications should be tightly
integrated and also feature influential third party endorsements. ‘We
agreed that if we got good endorsements we’d use them in tactical
advertising,’ says B-M account director Juliet Lewis.
Two consumer magazines - Hair Magazine and GQ - were identified as
reaching appropriate audiences and having the substance to impress
customers with their verdicts. The former was selected because its
readers clearly appreciated hair and beauty advice; the latter because
its male readership was deemed to be an under-exploited audience for
shampoo brand loyalty.
B-M secured positive endorsements in the pages of both magazines and
then negotiated to work the messages into a couple of 10-second