Issue date: 27 October 2003

ISSUE DATE: 27/10/03

Dr Alan Tapp, a scientist and marketing research expert from Bristol Business School at the University of the West of England has entered into a unique research partnership with the UK’s most successful Direct Marketing Agency, Harrison Troughton Wunderman (HTW). The intention is to establish a long term relationship that is independent of any one project. Work has already begun on research to investigate the monetary value of award winning creative marketing.

Dr Tapp explains:

“HTW is not your run of the mill direct marketing agency. They are great to work with on research: thoughtful and always reflecting on what they do. Our first project ‘what is the value of creative awards?’ will investigate the links between top quality creative advertising and profit. There has long been theoretical interest in this question for academic marketers, but another outcome will be that HTW can take credit for being the UK’s top creative direct marketing agency.”

Dr Tapp also had some words of warning for marketing academia:

“Partnerships are of course by no means new to academia but this collaboration is unique in that it is the first time that a creative direct marketing specialist has embarked on an academic/practitioner collaboration. I believe that academic marketing research needs to become more practitioner focused. Marketing is not a science and the very nature of marketing means that we are by definition working in an environment that is subject to continuous fluctuation and change.”

Martin Troughton from HTW said, “We are delighted to engage in this partnership with Dr Alan Tapp. He is a well known name throughout the industry, and many of my staff have read his book on direct marketing. The ‘value of creative awards project’ will help us to develop our approach and reappraise our work. It is often difficult to do this effectively when immersed in the creative excellence our customers expect from us. Alan’s academic reputation is exemplary and I am confident that the benefits to our organisation and our customers will prove to be invaluable.”

Dr Tapp believes that it is crucial to embed future marketing research in the needs of business practitioners. He said “There is a growing concern amongst academics researching in the marketing arena that we have grown away from focusing our work on the needs of marketing practitioners. This is, I believe, a very dangerous thing as it is crucial that the work we do is relevant to the arena we are hoping to serve, influence and improve. Evidence amongst the FTSE top 100 shows that fewer than 20% of these companies have marketing directors on the board demonstrating that as a discipline it is not taken as seriously as it needs to be.

“This partnership between UWE and the UK’s currently leading award winning agency is a move in the right direction and shows that UWE is focused on supporting industrial leaders with research that is relevant to their work.”

The research work at HTW will eventually feed into and link with the Future Foundation, an industry funded think tank investigating how businesses need to respond to social and economic changes in Britain today.


Editor’s notes

Alan Tapp

Dr Alan Tapp is Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Bristol Business School at the University of the West of England. Alan has published over 35 articles in leading journals and international conferences and he is author of the UK’s best selling dedicated textbook on direct and database marketing – the first in the UK to reach 3rd edition. Much of his research has been sponsored by organisations, for example IBM, Christian Dior and The Chartered Institute of Marketing. He is currently on the editorial board of the Journal of Database Marketing. Dr Tapp has since undertaken research, consultancy and training for organisations as diverse as the NSPCC, The Institute of Direct Marketing, National Centre for Educational Technology, Business Strategies Ltd, The Royal Mail (now Consignia), The CIM, IBM and Coventry City Football Club. He is the author of ‘Principles of Direct and Database Marketing’, now in its second edition. A former international athlete, Alan was British Indoor Hurdles Champion in 1986.

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