From Sydney to London with global ads at the speed of light

By AdNews | 26 February 1999
By winning the advertising account for financial services company Morgan Grenfell in the UK and contributing to the global win of the business for the Dentsu group, BAM SSB proved that with a little luck, technology and determination, local agencies can service an account on the other side of the world and have real incentives for clients to do so. Although this shouldnÕt seem such an oddity considering the number of businesses in Australia serviced by agencies in London, New York and Portland, it stands virtually alone as an example of a local agency winning and servicing a client outside Australia Ñ a client with billings of up to $15m. A fortuitous social visit by Paul Bennett, then an account director at BAM, with former client Lindy Leung at Christmas 1997 also helped secure the win. Leung was a marketer at Deutsche Bank and had moved to the UK to become marketing manager of Bain & Co, a sister company of Morgan Grenfell. This meeting was the catalyst for the agency winning a project for the company, and ultimately, for BennettÕs promotion to group account director with BAM SSB and Dentsu worldwide account director on Morgan Grenfell. Bennett says that over lunch Òwith a friendÓ, he was shown the advertising for a new Morgan Grenfell financial product, created by its existing UK agency, Citigate. He convinced Leung that BAM could create something far better and offered to fax some examples through. He put the agencyÕs creative staff to work on a possible alternative. ÒIt really was a social lunch and it was with reluctance that we turned to business,Ó he says. ÒBut I felt there was something we could do for them because the product was fantastic.Ó The agency succeeded in winning the project, then delivered the creative via ISDN lines while media was handled through BAMÕs parent company, Dentsu. Bennett says that by 10 January, BAM had to have a print campaign ready for 18 publications in the UK. ÒJust before we came on to the account, the MD had done a world tour and realised there was little synergy in its communications,Ó Bennett says. ÒAt the time, it was using different agencies in different markets and for different projects.Ó Within two months, Morgan Grenfell appointed BAM SSB and Dentsu to handle global brand strategy and corporate advertising. BAM is responsible for much of the companyÕs European advertising and global design work, while Dentsu Singapore handles its Asian advertising. There is only a little work in the US. On handling the account, Bennett says: ÒI spend a lot of time in planes, but itÕs really exciting because weÕre doing something that to my knowledge hasnÕt been done before.Ó BAM SSB now operates a night shift five evenings a week primarily to service Morgan Grenfell and has three dedicated ISDN lines between the client and the agency, with the client providing an additional two. So why would a client in the UK choose an agency in Australia to handle its advertising and graphic design? Bennett is keen to point to BAMÕs world class creative standards, but there are other advantages offered by an agency on the other side of the world that are even more important. The most obvious is cost. The disparity in wage costs between Australian and the UK creates a huge saving for the client, and the quality of the work is arguably better than Ñ or at least equal to Ñ that offered in Europe. Bennett gives as an example typesetting, which costs between £125 and £175 per hour in the UK, compared to a local agency which can offer the same service dollar for pound. He says work in the UK is approximately 2.7 times as expensive as work in Australia at current exchange rates. ÒIt can be quite an expensive exercise from the agencyÕs point of view,Ó Bennett says. ÒISDN lines arenÕt cheap and the travel expenses need to be offset.Ó BAM bills the client in Australian dollars and uses a variety of remuneration techniques, including flat fee, hourly rates, commission and agency service fees, but only gets income from Morgan Grenfell in the UK and Australia, with other Dentsu agencies gaining from its activities elsewhere. Bennett says the time difference is also an advantage in some cases with tight deadline jobs often gaining two working days in Australia, even though only one day has passed in the UK. BAMÕs latest campaign for Morgan Grenfell could involve its first trans-Atlantic work for the client, which to date has been fairly quiet in the US. Bennett says the agency will be looking for other clients in Europe, but will be very careful to seek within product categories in which they already have considerable experience.

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