Advertising: Heady days are history: Value for money has supplanted creativity as clients' top priority, writes Helen Slingsby

THE CURRENT television commercials for the soft drink Tango, featuring the Orangeman, an exploding granny and a Napoleon lookalike sporting an outsize orange rubber glove, suggest that the UK advertising industry is alive and kicking.

However, these memorable images are among the exceptions. The need to survive means more and more agencies have bitten their creative tongues.

Instead of providing grand 'image-building' campaigns, agencies are now under pressure to come up with results. Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury, for instance, claims its Tango adverts have led to a 30 per cent year-on-year increase in sales and have made Britvic's competitors consider the future of their own products.

The growing commitment to this approach was echoed in a survey carried out for the trade newspaper Marketing Week. For the first time in four years, top marketing directors cited value for money over creativity as the most important criterion in choosing an agency. What used to be the raison d'etre of an agency has been usurped in the drive for cost-effectiveness and accountability.

This is not surprising given the economic climate and the growing use of direct marketing. It is also highly evident in terms of what appears on our screens and billboards.

Take an average night's TV adverts - the majority are superbly crafted and executed but few actually take risks. Car advertisements, for example, have started to blur into one.

Behind-the-scenes bickering after an unsuccessful tender for some new business frequently sees the losing agencies criticising the victor for 'giving clients what they wanted'.

But if the Marketing Week research is anything to go by, the critics are barking up the wrong tree. The survey reveals that 150 marketing directors randomly chosen from the top 450 spenders on advertising, gave value for money a 63 per cent weighting; creativity was second at 57 per cent.

Tighter budgets and increasingly sophisticated marketing directors have prompted the change. Media buying, or purchasing the space on TV and in the press for a client, has also grown in importance. Ranked third in every previous year, it received 10 per cent more weight this year than last.

Based on these criteria and four others - quality of managers, attentiveness to clients, marketing strategy and coverage of foreign markets - the marketing directors assessed 50 prominent agencies.

J Walter Thompson, the agency which also offers best value for money, was chosen best agency overall, followed by Saatchi & Saatchi and BMP DDB Needham.

Agencies also seem to be watching their costs. Saatchi has leapt from sixth to second place in the value-for-money stakes. Lowe Howard-Spink managed fifth place, compared with a dismal 23rd two years ago.

The above agencies are all in the Top Five for creativity. Boasting the top creative slot for the fourth year running is Bartle Bogle Hegarty, provider of the sexy Levi's and Haagen-Dazs commercials, followed by Saatchi and Lowe Howard-Spink.

While clients may prefer value for money, agency bosses are sticking with creativity. Adrian Holmes, Lowe Howard-Spink chairman, says: 'Creativity is the most effective value for money we can offer our clients. Five per cent off a bad idea is not good value at all.'

Helen Slingsby is news editor of 'Marketing Week'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?