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The Advertising Agencies of Yesteryear

By The Drum | Administrator

January 6, 2003 | 12 min read

Hall Advertising

Hall Advertising was started by Brian Hall in 1962. When Vince Taylor, Ian Collee and Richard Cockburn bought the agency seven years later in 1969 little did they know what legacy they would create.

Taylor re-energised what was once a “sleepy little agency” through the mid- to late 70s, spawning an agency that was to revolutionise the Scottish advertising scene.

He set about turning Halls into a creative hotbed, hiring the likes of Jim Downie and Tony Cox (who has since moved on to become creative director at both BMP and Abbot Mead Vickers) to build the agency’s reputation.

It was also here that John Denholm, chairman of The Leith Agency, arrived on the Scottish advertising scene as an account director in 1980. Or so he thought: “I turned up at Hall’s reception on the morning that I was supposed to start. I think they might have forgotten about me. I asked what accounts I would be working on and they replied, after some hesitation, “The new ones.”

So, with the inherited title of new business director, Denholm was ushered into an office that he would share with Ash Gupta.

Halls won business from Royal Bank of Scotland, Standard Life, Scottish Office, Scottish Development Agency (now Scottish Enterprise) and Kwik-Fit, with Downie penning one of the most famous slogans in advertising ... “You can’t get better than a Kwik-Fit fitter”.

Denholm’s arrival from Scottish & Newcastle paid off when he won what was then the Bass Special account for Halls. An account that even now continues to show rewards for Denholm and his Leith Agency.

Halls closed around a decade ago after a variety of management changes and an eventual exodus of talent that resulted in a loss of business. However, Halls will perhaps always be remembered as the agency that changed the face of Scottish advertising.

Baillie Marshall

Baillie Marshall was formed in 1980. It was born out of two companies – Baillie Marshall Graphic Services and the Art Work Shop.

The ad agency fell under the umbrella of the Ballgray Group, which encompassed Baillie Marshall (both advertising and design divisions), CHD – a London-based agency, Milne Tannahill Methven printers, Financial Marketing Scotland, a PR company, and Viz entertainment, now Dundee’s games giant.

At its prime, Baillie Marshall dealt with clients the calibre of British Midland, Scottish Gas, TSB, and even penned the now famous phrase for the Cumbernauld Development Corporation, “What’s it called? Cumbernauld.”

However, the agency was not only made famous by its clients. Baillie Marshall’s planning director, Douglas McArthur, is now chief exec of the RAB, Peter Baillie now heads up Viz, Chic Harper, Brian Helmore and George Gall are all still directors at Avian – what was Greenfinch – an MBO from the Ballgray Group, and, of course, there was Jim Marshall, who is now at Faulds.

Baillie Marshall was set up as an expert in Scottish national business, in which it excelled. However, the 90s saw the accounts being pulled back to London. British Midland pulled out of the agency, TSB pulled out of Scotland, as did Scottish Gas. So, the very reasons that Baillie Marshall was founded ceased to exist. And, sadly, after almost twenty years together, Baillie and Marshall split up.

Morgan Associates/Struthers Morgan/

The Morgan Partnership

John Morgan was released as managing director of Woolward Royds in 1979. In 1980 Morgan Associates was formed and ran for ten years until it merged with Struthers early in 1989 to create Struthers Morgan. However, the relationship was short and Struthers left after a disagreement at the end of 1989, less than two years into the relationship.

By 1990 the agency was renamed The Morgan Partnership. Alistair Gibbons, now client services director at Clayton Graham, Kevin Toner, formerly marketing director at Scottish Power, now business development director at Frame Cunningham, and David Shaw, John Cooney, Ern Parkin, and Jim Law, now managing director at MRUK, all served their time at Struthers Morgan, working on a raft of large accounts that included Bank of Scotland, Highlands and Islands Tourist Board, Nationwide Anglia, Agnew Stores and the Scottish Dairy Council.

The Morgan Partnership also worked with Kwik-Fit for five years before losing the account – perhaps the only agency to survive losing the prestigious account. Furthermore, it also retained the Stakis account when it changed to Hilton.

However, Hilton was to leave Morgans in 2001 and later that year the Morgan Partnership, after 22 years in existence (in one form or another), finally folded as John was forced to put the company into voluntary liquidation.

Morgan still remains in the business with a phoenix company, aptly titled Merle, rising from the ashes of the fallen giant.

Rex Stewart

Rex Stewart was possibly one of the first ad agencies in Scotland (although you’d have to fight with Mearns and Gill over that one). The agency was founded in Glasgow by Alexander Howie between the two world wars.

However, Rex Stewart was also perhaps the first agency to see the potential in a UK-wide network with offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, Bristol, Nottingham, Newcastle and Aberdeen.

Bill Muir, now chairman at AdPartners, first joined Rex Stewart in 1957 as a young boy.

He recalls the emergence of the agency: “Rex Stewart took its name from, first, its first client and, second, a hard-working employee.

“The agency’s first client was the then famous chain of cinemas owned by Alexander B King – King’s cinemas. The ad agency’s first office was to be based in one of King’s cinemas, the Rex Cinema in Glasgow.

“The name Stewart was adopted after George Stewart, an employee at the agency. Stewart was largely responsible for the growth of the agency after the war as he climbed through the ranks, eventually changing his name to George Rex Stewart.”

At one time Rex Stewart was the agency that had everything Scottish – and a few other clients from further afield. Royal Bank of Scotland, House of Fraser, Scottish Development Agency, Bell’s Whisky, Carlsberg UK, and was responsible for the launch of Golden Wonder crisps.

In its hey-day in the 60s the ad agency acquired a handful of agencies, including McMurtrie (which brought them the Bell’s account) and DC Cuthbertson, which worked on the Tennents lager account at the time.

By 1983 Rex had added to its portfolio Riley and MCS Robertson Scott (which had gone bust). The latter was acquired for only £1, along with the debt.

However, in 1989 Bill Muir and Norman Lawson left the agency in to set up AdPartners, of which Muir is now chairman (Lawson having retired last year), which also acquired Grant Forrest’s Glasgow office.

Brian Crook bought out of Rex Stewart in the early 90s to form The Bridge Alliance, as it was then called, before buying outright from Alliance, parent group of Rex Stewart. The rest is history.

Grant Forrest

Grant Forrest’s tale is, like many ad agency histories, a bit of a roller-coaster affair, which saw him rise to the top of advertising before dipping to near bankruptcy.

The agency was founded in 1972. By the early 80s Forrest, who founded the company at the age of 25, was at the helm of an advertising empire that boasted offices in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, a string of restaurants, a recruitment consultancy and a PR firm.

After building up the agency through a series of acquisitions and a growing reputation, in 1989 Forrest sold Grant Forrest Glasgow and Mitchell Frame, another ad agency that had been acquired seven years previously, to ex-Rex men Norman Lawson and Bill Muir to form a new agency, Ad Partners.

Unfortunately, by the fall of 1989 all that remained was Grant Forrest Aberdeen. A series of acquisitions gone wrong (Halton Advertising), MBOs and breakaways (Brand Advertising led by Graeme Davidson) were to blame for the downfall of an agency that, during its 17-year history, handled clients the likes of BP, Jolly Giant and Barratt Homes. Later Grant Forrest closed.

Shaw Advertising

David Shaw began his career at Woolward Royds in the mid-60s, before moving to Struthers to become a director in the 70s.

Shaw left Struthers to become managing director of Simpson & Gemmill, an agency that was financed by Woolward Royds, towards the end of the 70s.

In 1980 Simpson & Gemmill was bought out by MCS Robertson and Scott and it is from this point that the story of Shaw Advertising really can begin.

After acquisitions a new agency was formed, changing its name to Shaw and Geddis, Campbell, Craig and Gibbons, opening up in August 1980.

But it was not long before the first name fell from above the door as Lawrence Craig (now chief executive at Coltas) left to start Breckenridge, Craig and Thom – which later became Craig Advertising.

Six months later Gibbons (Alisdair – creative services director at Clayton Graham) and Campbell (Campbell Russell) left to join Struthers, leaving just Shaw and Geddis.

Two years later (1982/1983) the agency’s name changed to Shaw Advertising.

Shaw was a well-liked man in the advertising world, probably best known for his work with What Everyone Wants (as well as Trust Motors and Radio Clyde), but, sadly for the industry, he died of cancer in the mid-90s. With him went the agency.

Woolward Royds

Woolward Royds was once Scotland’s biggest advertising agency. In the late seventies it was turning over more than £4.5m – a lot for an agency at that time. With offices in Edinburgh (the famous Marine Drive in Sliverknowes), Glasgow and Aberdeen it serviced clients the likes of Scottish Health Education Unit (now HEBS), Whyte and MacKay, Scottish Tourist Board, Scottish Executive, Smiley and Bank of Scotland before selling out to McCann-Erickson in the late ‘80’s.

Nick Royds had a network of agencies throughout England and his partnership with Bill Woolward successfully conquered the Scottish market too.

The agency, in it’s prime, bred a number of well known names in advertising including, managing director, Peter Holmes (who went on to Kwik-Fit), Derek Gorman, John Upton, Aubrey Maulden, Mark Fidelo (now creative director at Coltas), Ern Parkin, Sandy Scott and Brian Rose (who headed up the agency’s successful recruitment division).

But as Halls set the new president by spending big money on attracting big names from London, Woolward Royds’ progress started slow.

John Morgan, who joined the agency in ‘77, said: “When I entered the Woolward Royds world it was Scotland’s most prominent agency. The three years I spent under the leadership of Bill Woolward were probably the hardest yet most beneficial of my career.”

Robertson Marketing Services

Robertson Advertising was formed in1978 with three staff on the books. In its hey-day it employed over fifty. With clients the likes of Scottish Tourist Board and the now infamous “Texan” advert for The Dun-ferm-a-line Building Society the agency grew its reputation.

Robertson Advertising Services was the 80s’ first fully integrated marketing services agency as it acquired a number of agencies to build its services up to offer advertising, DM, design and PR.

However, in 1990 Robertson was taken over by Brand Direct and, after just ten months of working together, Stewart Robertson was asked to either leave or take a demotion. He left.

While Robertson took a year out on the golf course (although it did little to improve his game, mainly due to his frustration) Richard Bolton and Andy Walker successfully completed an MBO of the company and rebranded the agency Forth Marketing Services.

With that, Robertson got the green light to launch his own agency and Marketing Advantage was born in the height of the recession. To this day Forth Marketing and MA DDB continue to pitch against each other.

Ogilvy & Mather Scotland

O&M was set up in Glasgow in 1973 to handle the Scottish Dairy Council (O&M London had the English milk account). At that time Peter Scott ran the agency, left and eventually set up Wight, Collins, Rutherford & Scott in London.

He was replaced by Chris Erskine-Hill, who was made chairman and the MD was Bob Mosseri. Alan Lewis joined as creative director in 1982 after his predecessor, John Jenkins, passed away. Bob was replaced by Hamish McPherson, who moved to Scottish Gas in 1989.

The main accounts during the 80’s were the Scottish Dairy Council, Scottish Pride, the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland, The Highlands and Islands Development Board (tourism), the Sunday Standard newspaper and Templeton supermarkets. O&M went on to win the Glasgow Herald and Evening Times, Livingston Development Corporation, the Scottish Information Office and the Dunfermline Building Society. The Evening Times still occasionally uses the theme Lewis wrote for it in 1984 – the life and soul of Glasgow. Lewis also created the famous Texan for the Dunfermline Building Society.

In 1986 O&M opened an Edinburgh office in Dundas Street to handle the Edinburgh-based accounts. The creative team originally was Mike Scott-Moncrieff and Nigel Sutton, but they were replaced by Iain Hawk and Andy York. Croy Thomson, now at Coltas, was a young lad when Lewis arrived at O&M. The people Lewis took on included the Edinburgh teams mentioned above, as well as John Cook, Angus Walker, now at The Leith, and Richard Harris, now at Draft.

In late 1989 the agency re-pitched for milk and lost to Morgan. Lewis moved to work with Stewart Robertson in Edinburgh. The Highlands and Islands was absorbed into the Scottish Tourist Board – another blow for O & M. The Dunfermline followed Lewis to Robertson’s. Then O&M pitched for the Scottish Tourist Board, but Robertson’s got that too. By now O & M Scotland was facing serious losses and closed down. Its offshoot, Benson Design, closed a few years ago also.

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