The Contenders A Year in Review…

Blitz
'The Entrepreneurial Will to Succeed' is more than just a vision statement - according to Blitz, it's a way of life for the agency.

Blitz

‘The Entrepreneurial Will to Succeed’ is more than just a vision statement – according to Blitz, it’s a way of life for the agency. And it’s exactly what has generated average growth patterns of 40% over the past two consecutive years. In the last 12 months, Montreal-headquartered Blitz Direct Data & Promotion (which is comprised of three divisions: direct marketing, database & analytics and promotions) has welcomed new clients including The Shopper’s Drug Mart Optimum Loyalty Program, Moneris Solutions (an RBC/BMO joint venture), and PEI Tourism’s database marketing.

In addition to the new business wins over the past year, Blitz also touts several new technology innovations. Among them, a Free Standing Insert Media Optimization Model (whereby an in-house database was created of all major Canadian newspapers identifying their distribution patterns at an FSA level), a DR Media Optimization Model (an online media planning tool that combines media distribution/circulation patterns, cost structures, and historical response patterns), and Variation Marketing-enabled systems (in-house CRM technology capability development combining customized programming with leading market CRM software).

With offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City, the agency, a partner company of the Cossette Communication Group, serves a roster of market leading clients including Aliant, Bank of Montreal, BC Tourism, Bell Canada, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Les Ailes de la Mode, and Sympatico.

FCB Direct Canada

For FCB Direct Canada of Montreal, 2002 was marked by a new agency credo: ‘Creativity at Work.’ The philosophy is reflected in employee attitude and innovation, but even more importantly, in the work it does for the likes of CIBC, Hilton and Air Canada. This year, impressive results posted by the U.K. program for Air Canada led the airline to place all global initiatives with the FCB network. A branding effort for a newly independent Aeroplan led to a revitalized B-to-B program. And a proactive approach toward a new client, Primus, led to a record-breaking product launch.

In fact, new business wins accounted for 14% of FCB Direct’s business in the past 12 months. While it lost the Foster Parents Plan and Cogeco accounts, it picked up a packaged goods account, and Quebec’s liquor control board, S.A.Q, as well as Ontario Tourism.

It’s often the extras that make a difference, according to the agency. This year for example, Yves Blain, FCB Direct’s VP, strategic development, became not only the first Canadian judge at the new Cannes Lions Direct Marketing Competition, but also Quebec’s Direct Marketer of the Year. The agency, which has offices in Toronto, also engaged one of the country’s finest creative teams, Scott Pinkney and Dean Maruna, to help create new benchmarks for its creative product and strategic thinking.

VBDI

Toronto-based VBDI started the past year with a renewed sense of purpose. Having lost the Sprint Canada account late last year, it set out to re-energize the company with new business, and continue to grow its existing accounts.

Straight out of the gates, it picked up the Royal LePage account. With its strong track record with HBC Rewards, it also garnered the first direct marketing project from Zellers. And based on the incredible success of its ‘Get Ready for Winter’ program created for client Lennox, VBDI doubled the volume of North American assignments from Lennox, and got the green light to develop a dealer-focused Internet marketing Web site. VBDI also launched the new Bank of Montreal credit card called Mosaik. Over the year, the agency welcomed several new accounts to the VBDI family, including Trilon Corporate Services (a division of Royal LePage), the Wine-Rack, Unilever (Pears by Suave business), Diners Club, Volkswagen and Nesbitt Burns Trade Finance Group.

To top it off, VBDI took home several award wins, including three International Mobius Awards, two John Caples Awards and three International Echo Awards.

While new business has been a clear mandate, according to VBDI, the agency maintains a responsibility to nurture the industry as a whole – with a major focus on industry involvement and new talent development. It recently signed on to a two-year pro-bono gig with the CMA for all 2003-04 CMA National Convention materials. Earlier this year, it co-launched ‘The Canadian Direct Marketing Scholarship for Business Students,’ which resulted in over 50 essay submissions, and three very happy business students.

Wunderman

This October marked Wunderman’s 30th anniversary in the Canadian marketplace. As the first Wunderman office to open outside of New York, the Wunderman Montreal office was also the first direct marketing agency in Canada.

The Canadian office, now located in Toronto and one of a global network of 80 Wunderman offices around the world, has evolved to include a broader offering of services and capabilities that all contribute to the agency’s overall business success. Yet the direct marketing discipline still informs all of Wunderman’s practices; whether it’s database marketing, e-channel or sales promotion, the focus is on changing behavior and accountability.

In no year out of the last 30 has the agency experienced more new business success than in 2002. Consider the following additions: IBM, Kraft North America CRM, kraftcanada.com, Jaguar and Land Rover. Additionally, Wunderman pitched and won project assignments on Bruce Power, Royal Canadian Mint and CIBC. Together, net new business in the past 12 months accounts for almost 40% of total revenue.

In 2002, Wunderman said goodbye to some client relationships – Loyalty Group and Royal Bank – both of which had been with the agency for over six years. However, along with sister company Y&R Advertising, it successfully pitched to retain its Ford Canada client. But revenue is only one aspect of this year’s story. Wunderman’s e-Business model has become the template for much of the Wunderman global interactive offering, and increasingly, e-Business solutions for the North American network (including clients like IBM North America) are delivered out of the Toronto office.