Rothco aims to give clients more bang for their buck
Tighter budgets mean advertising agencies are under more pressure to come up with the goods, writes TOM LYONS
IRISH-owned advertising agency Rothco has hit the ground running this year with a string of big client wins.
In a difficult market the Rathmines-based company has secured new accounts with Aer Lingus, Murphy's, Bord Iascaigh Mhara and McDonald's since the beginning of the year.
In so doing it has shaken up some of the major players in the market.
As a result this year the company should hit turnover of ?4m based predominantly on fee income.
However, director Patrick Hickey claims that while the company's profile may have risen as a result of the new accounts Rothco's success has been far from an overnight process.
The company has built up a steady list of clients including Coca-Cola, Glanbia and Nivea Sun and mostly recently, German condom makers Condomi.
Hickey puts the company's growth down to a combination of factors.
"The reason we have been successful is down to three things.
"We are very passionate. We generally eat, sleep and drink the stuff we do.
"Second is hard graft. We do everything ourselves, the same people are multi-disciplined to do everything from advertising to point of sales."
"Finally, in terms of ideas we have never constrained ourselves and this stands to us." Mr Hickey backs these claims up by saying since the company was formed in 1995 it has only lost one account.
Mr Hickey, who runs the company with partners Patrick Ronaldson and Paul Hughes, says Rothco decided a few years ago to go after full-scale advertising accounts.
"We decided that for too long we were being brought to the table after key strategic decisions had been developed," he claims.
Mr Hickey says this strategy has begun to pay off with the winning of the Murphy's account, worth ?3.5m, from London-based BBH in January.
However, it was probably the recent Aer Lingus account to handle the company's creative product strategy (Mediavest will do the booking) that has most recently put them on the map as a serious player.
Mr Hickey says he expects the account will be "challenging" as it is a nationally iconic brand. "We want to mind it," he says.
But he claimed it was too early to say exactly what the Aer Lingus budget may be, or what direction will be taken with the brand.
In general terms Mr Hickey says that the market has certainly tightened and clients are proving more demanding.
"Clients, more than ever, demand blood, sweat and tears for every single cent," he says.
"The amount of accountability now in this business is also new to a lot of people.
"Clients and brands are becoming increasingly aggressive with their budget plans. There is still business out there, but only if you can come up with more bang for their buck."
In terms of the future direction of Rothco, Mr Hickey says he hopes there will be "more of the same".
And although there may be a trend in the industry towards mergers with other domestic firms, he thinks this is unlikely for Rothco, although an alignment with an international group is possible.
But he points out that there is no deal on the horizon.
"It (an alignment with an international agency) might be a big plus in terms of work, but it would depend on whether they fit the philosophy of who we are."