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Adbrands Archive: Claydon Heeley

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Claydon Heeley was a UK-based direct marketing agency sitting within Omnicom's DAS Global marketing services division. Previously, it was for several years grouped with a small collection of other below-the-line agencies under the umbrella name, The Zulu Network. This alliance was disbanded in 2008 following a string of management resignations, and Claydon Heeley was repositioned as the UK arm of US database marketing agency Targetbase. The Targetbase Claydon Heeley name was abbreviated to TBCH in 2013, at around the same time that the agency moved from its original offices on the Thames to Rapp UK's old offices in London's Paddington. It was absorbed into Rapp in May 2014.

Claydon Heeley's original roots were in sales promotion, but it gradually transformed itself into a top-notch planning-led DM agency. The business was formed in 1990 by former commodities trader Jon Claydon and his university friend turned marketer Mark Heeley to manage promotions for clients such as Kraft Jacobs Suchard and Abbey National. Its roster gradually expanded and in the late 1990s, Claydon Heeley was reported to have discussed sale to a number of different agency groups, including M&C Saatchi, with whom it then shared the British Airways account.

In the end it was Omnicom who won the prize in 1998 with a deal estimated at around £10m. Links to BMP DDB were established at the beginning of 1999 when Claydon Heeley's managing director, Edward Mason, was seconded to a senior role in Jones Mason Barton Antenen, a joint venture between CH and BMP which absorbed the latter's struggling in-house direct marketing division, as well as its head of planning Nigel Jones. Almost exactly a year later, Claydon Heeley and Jones Mason Barton Antenen merged to form Claydon Heeley Jones Mason (or CHJM).

The agency had something of a bumpy ride after that. Claydon Heeley lost a string of important accounts in 2001, including key client British Airways, as well as several senior managers. Digital duties as well as some more traditional direct marketing assignments were consolidated into Agency Republic, a new venture initially set up as a partnership with Agency.com. However, the agency steadily strengthened after 2002, focusing its attentions on direct marketing, while Agency Republic was repositioned to handle only digital. This led to a dynamic performance in 2003 and especially in 2004. That year, the shop was named as Campaign's Direct Marketing Agency of the Year as a result of strong performance in both creative and new business wins, and its work for The Guardian newspaper was named by Campaign as the year's Best DM Creative in 2005.

There was another downturn at the end of that year, when it lost the Guardian account as well as Nigel Jones, who had risen to CEO. The "Jones Mason" tag was dropped in 2006, and the agency reverted to the Claydon Heeley name. At the same time, Zulu Network was established to strengthen ties with Agency Republic. However there was more turbulence a year later when several senior staff, including newly appointed Zulu CEO Martin Brooks, jumped ship, some of them to launch their own shop, Work Club. Last remaining founder Jon Claydon stepped down at around the same time, and also subsequently joined Work Club (which was itself eventually acquired by Havas). Emma Rush succeeded Steve Grout as UK chief executive in 2013, but the agency's profile gradually waned. Relegated to the London arm of Targetbase, it was eventually swallowed up by Rapp.

Jon Claydon was chairman of Work Club until 2013, and now launches, invests in or advises technology start-ups. Mark Heeley also became involved in various technology start-ups and was later chairman of consumer intelligence monitor Brandwatch.

Last full revision 26th April 2018

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