FCB Direct moves ahead

After three years of steady growth, FCB Direct, the direct marketing arm of FCB Canada, can make a strong case for being the largest direct agency in Canada, following the recent acquisition of Hull Direct Marketing.While there is no formal ranking...

After three years of steady growth, FCB Direct, the direct marketing arm of FCB Canada, can make a strong case for being the largest direct agency in Canada, following the recent acquisition of Hull Direct Marketing.

While there is no formal ranking of direct marketing agencies, the industry acknowledges that Ogilvy & Mather Direct, whose client list includes such direct marketing majors as American Express, Unitel Communications and Glaxo Canada, is the market leader.

Wunderman Worldwide and FCB Direct have been viewed as vying for the No. 2 spot.

But, with the acquisition of Hull, a 12-year-old company seen by the industry here as a solid, medium-sized agency with a creative flair, FCB Direct has moved to the front rank with o&m.

Corporate commitment

The investment in direct response reflects a corporate commitment in Canada and worldwide, says David Haan, FCB Canada president and chief executive officer.

Haan says direct marketing disciplines are marketing tools consistent with the current trend among many clients to establish a closer dialogue with their customers.

‘The whole area of database management and knowing how to make the right kinds of decisions in identifying and getting to know your most profitable customer – and getting the most out of your knowledge,’ Haan says are some of the benefits that accrue from having a strong direct marketing capability.

For Hull, a packaged goods-trained marketer who has been in direct marketing since 1981, the hook-up with a multinational means tapping into the kinds of resources an agency needs to service contemporary client needs.

He says as clients have become more sophisticated in the use of direct marketing, they are demanding a sharpening of those tools.

‘In order to provide the modelling, the profiling, and the segmentation that many clients now demand, you need more resources,’ Hull says.

Also, he says direct marketing is becoming increasingly global, so tying in to a worldwide agency made sense.

Hull will join FCB Direct as a senior vice-president. His agency’s client list includes Pitney Bowes and The Thomas Cook Group.

Paul Nelson, who joined FCB Direct three years ago from the Direct Marketing Group in New York, is senior vice-president and managing director of the agency’s Toronto office.

Nelson, too, believes that direct marketing disciplines will continue to attract more clients’ attention.

‘As pressure continues to mount to get more out of your [marketing] investment, the accountability aspect of direct response makes it rise to the top,’ Nelson says.

In addition to the Toronto office, FCB Direct also has a strong Montreal operation, run by Mark Goodman, senior vice-president and managing director.

Montreal accounts include Air Canada, the Royal Canadian Mint and Time Warner.

In Toronto, the agency works for such clients as ibm and Federal Express.

The combined operation of Hull and FCB Direct will employ a staff of about 60.