New Media

By The Drum, Administrator

January 22, 2002 | 5 min read

Brian Limond, Donnie Kerrigan

A year ago breakaways were rocking the industry, but now breakaways from breakaways appear to be par for the course. So what will happen next for Black ID, Flammable Jam and the newest new media company on the block, Chunk Ideas?

The dramatic pre-Christmas departure of three directors from new media agency Flammable Jam turned many heads in Scotland's web community.

But the event echoed a similar one which took place around 18 months earlier, leaving the original Scottish new media player, Black ID, in the lurch.

Now Flam Jam is, oddly, three-quarters-owned by directors of a rival company and there are rumours that managing director Hoss Gifford is now seeking a like-minded company to start up a new business venture.

Industry speculation is that Gifford will dissolve the company Flammable Jam, but take his skills, clients and existing team into a new company, which is likely to be part of an existing marketing shop.

It is believed he is already in talks with the owners of two potential partner companies but will not sell the Flam Jam brand.

Gifford declined to comment but it is widely believed he no longer wants to sit in the managing director's chair and would prefer to concentrate on the creativity that made Flam Jam the darling of new media - not only in Scotland, but internationally.

The PR side of Flam Jam will continue despite three of the founders leaving. Gifford has been appointed technical editor of an upcoming Flash book and will continue to talk at industry events across the globe.

Meanwhile, his former colleagues, Donnie Kerrigan, Michael Falconer and Brian Limond, are coming up against their old partner at pitches.

Even if Flam Jam wins the pitch over the new company, Chunk Ideas, the trio will not lose out as they still have a majority share in their former employer.

Neither company is shedding any more light on the reason for the "amicable" split than they did in late November when the news broke shortly after Flam Jam was named The Drum's New Media Agency of the Year.

At the time, they said in a joint statement: "There has not been the same sense of camaraderie and togetherness between the directors as when we started the company.

"After discussions, it was clear that changes should be made. Hopefully, both companies will prosper and provide the industry with two times the fun."

Chunk has since hinted in a statement: "We left Flam Jam because, for a long time, we were unhappy working alongside Hoss.

"However, leaving and starting up Chunk has given us the opportunity to implement our plans to refocus and spring-clean our attitudes, which Flam Jam was due for if we remained."

But the trio added that their ideal scenario would have been to remain at Flam Jam.

Whatever the reason, the split is a sign of further fragmentation in the new media sector, a trend that will continue this year, according to Gordon Black.

And he should know. The managing director of Black ID has himself seen many of his staff leave him (including the former four Flam Jam directors) to set up their own successful businesses which include It'sNotRocketScience and, more recently, Mode Creative.

Black said: "I suppose it is further fragmentation in the new media market, which is unfortunate. We're trying to scale up in size, but the model looks very different now. I think more boutiques will emerge in the coming years and I think they will multiply.

Smaller agencies will face more competition if the marketplace does fragment further and they may find themselves in a situation competing against those who were once friends, like Flam Jam and Chunk.

Black's words of wisdom on the Flam Jam breakaway were: "It's now the first time a fragment has fragmented into something else."

But for the time being there appears to be enough work to go round.

Flam Jam is reported to be in its most profitable period ever, since three of the directors walked out, and has a number of high-profile projects in the pipeline.

Along with the news of the split also came word of the agency being appointed by Powergen to develop an online marketing campaign and to create a fourth website for Toyota. It also created e-cards at Christmas for numerous clients.

And Chunk, which has just moved into its first office space in Glasgow, has completed a project for the BBC with the scope for further work from the broadcaster

Both agencies will continue to go after clients in the entertainment world. Flam Jam is also known for being employed by a number of companies that could be seen as rivals, including Miller Bainbridge and Partners, the London-based ad agency.

So, it seems, after the troubled times, Flammable Jam will continue to set the new media world alight. That is, until it is no more and has become a completely different company.


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