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Piecing It Together

1 Sep, 2008 By: Bridget McCrea Response

The lines between DR and traditional agencies continue to blur as clients seek one-stop shopping.


Making the Crossover


The major marketing services holding companies (WPP, Interpublic, Omnicom) have been buying traditional (DRTV, direct mail, list management) DR agencies for 20 years, bringing them into their family of agencies. But many of these companies, like A. Eicoff & Co. and Wunderman, still function independently. And while they may attempt to provide DR services to their brand agency cousins, says Tim Hawthorne, chairman/executive creative director at Hawthorne Direct in Fairfield, Iowa, and a member of the Response Editorial Advisory Board, the sharing of clients is more rare than common.

"The foremost change in the major brand agencies' DR work is the acquisition and/or in-house development of new media services," says Hawthorne, "much of which is accountable, and direct response."

At least for now, Hawthorne says that DRTV, direct mail, DM print, catalog and list management are still strongly the domain of specialized DRTV agencies, adding that general brand agencies, in general, have never understood nor respected these traditional DR marketing channels. "And I don't think they ever will," says Hawthorne. "They've been forced to adopt and develop new media DR because they see which way the wind blows. But they still prefer big-budget, branded TV ad campaigns."

The fact that DRTV and general agencies are for the most part sticking to what they do best isn't exactly negative. In fact, from a day-to-day perspective, Hodor says there will always be a place for specific service line specialties that will remain within their domain. "There will still most likely be separate print groups, network groups, digital media specialists and DR specialists to do the actual blocking and tackling required for clients that need all of those services," he explains.

Where the capabilities need to be blended the most, Hodor says, is at the top — starting with the account directors/planners, and within the data analytics teams. "It's all about analyzing the data, looking at all media types holistically and what they are bringing to the table for the client's business," Hodor says, "and then disseminating this information to the specialized service lines so everything is pulling in the same direction to achieve the business objectives."

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