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Emerging Edinburgh – Advertising

By The Drum, Administrator

January 31, 2003 | 4 min read

TBWA\Edinburgh’s managing director Gary O’Donnell.


In the past six months The Drum has seen an unprecedented amount of start-ups in the advertising industry. One of the big changes last year was the formation of Bond, headed up by Phil Evans, Guy Vickerstaff and Caroline Garrad, in the latter stages of 2002. The company was unlike the majority of breakaways because they didn’t take a major client with them when they left The Union. But, fast-forward a few months and all is well.

“We have a couple of big announcements which will be coming into the forefront some time soon, but at the moment we can’t say too much about them,” conceded Evans. But they are still plugging away and trying to make the difference in this already overcrowded market.

All in all, the team is settling into their independence – although it has been a bumpy ride. “To say it has been roller coaster might sound like a cliché,” admits Evans. “But it truly has been. I’d say as long as you can learn to keep hold of the fun parts of your job when dealing with the tougher issues then it is not too bad. That’s what we’re trying to do. Have a lot of fun without worrying too much about the bottom line.”


TBWA\Edinburgh have had a great start to its first three months. They have been out to lunch for the best part of it. Gary O’Donnell, MD of the Edinburgh branch of the TBWA network, which works with the Scottish Labour Party, News International and Scottish Courage, admits that, whilst the first three months haven’t been plain sailing, they have been extremely social. “Scotland is a remarkably small place when it comes to clients,” concedes O’Donnell. “I’ve been trying to meet up with everyone and try to bring about some sort of recognition for the company. It has been difficult though. Even getting an appointment can sometimes be hard, as these people will have a history with some of the ad agencies and it is trying to convince people of what we do.”

60 Watt

With over 50 years’ experience in the advertising industry, Pete Mill and Ian Hawke offer clients an alternative to the usual agency standard. 60 Watt was formed as a communications consultancy aimed at providing the same standard of work without the number of staff normally found in an agency. “There are only two of us at the moment,” says founder Pete Mill. “But in all honesty even when we start to grow I can’t see the company getting any larger than about five people. It’s just not what the company is about, really.”

At present, 60 Watt counts Graham Technology, Connicher X Ray films and Waterstones the Stationers amongst its clients. “We don’t really like to pitch for clients. Generally, everything that we get comes from word of mouth and referrals. We just don’t have the time for a pitch, and the fact that paid tenders seem to be going out of fashion, we don’t really want to get into that process,” admits Mill.

“But I can honestly say that the size of the company has never been a problem when it comes to winning clients. We can offer the same service as any of the large agencies in Scotland, but our overheads are much lower, and that is reflected in the price that we offer to clients.”


Setting up a new company is never easy to do. But, leaving an already established agency to start up on your own must be even harder. Story was set up in April 2002, and, according to MD Sue Mullen, the business has gone from strength to strength. “We now have over a million pounds of turnover and the agency has grown from the original four to eighteen.” With clients such as the Yorkshire and Clydesdale Bank, First Direct, Standard Life Assurance and Glenmorangie under their wing, Story has been one of the successes of last year.

The only aspect Mullen would change is the timing of events. “It’s been hard, but it has also been rewarding. I think the only regret that I do have is that I should have done this a long time ago. We are very client-focused at the moment and that is what we intend to do in the next year or so – consolidate the clients that we already have and look towards the future.”


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