Leeding the pack

By The Drum, Administrator

January 28, 2004 | 23 min read

It’d be too easy to start this feature by comparing the contrasting fortunes of Leeds’ football team and its media/marketing sector. To note that one’s going up while the other goes down, or have cheekily provocative subheadings like “Boom and Doom” or “Bright Business vs. Shite Business”, just isn’t our style. Therefore, we’ll steer well clear of Leeds’ dismal footballing plight and kick off with some heart-warming facts that suggest the city’s in a league of its own when it comes to industry performance and growth.

Not everyone wants a transfer out of Leeds. In fact, in marketing terms, several agencies seem to think it’s the ideal place to develop their silky skills. For examples look to DM specialist JDA who, following a successful MBO, decided the time had come to say bye-bye to Bradford and ‘Aloha’ to Leeds. Or Propaganda, who outgrew their Huddersfield haunt and took the business on to the next level by taking themselves on to the M62 and accelerating into the heart of the regional capital. They join firms like Poulter Partners and Brahm, who have kept the faith with the city for decades, and been rewarded handsomely for their piety.

The major networks may have been slow to recognise the potential of the munificent marketing scene, but in their absence 162 advertising (and advertising-related) firms have set up base, along with over 70 graphic design agencies. In total there are now 1,000 companies working within media and marketing, employing over 13,000 members of staff.

Outside of London Leeds is now the second biggest media centre in England, after Birmingham (which boasts over 15,300 workers), but with the city’s employee growth rate of 20.4 per cent (between 1998 and 2000) observers expect Leeds to be number two in the ratings well before 2010.

Galvanised by the coruscating influence of campaigning body Leeds Media, which now has 214 member companies, the city is now rightly regarded as a dynamic, diverse, talented and unique hub for quality media and marketing solutions.

If you think all this sounds a little over-awing, fear not. At Adline we’ve decided to come to your rescue, hold your hand and steer you through that 1,000-company minefield and into the arms of around 20 of the city’s finest marketing services firms. Whatever your brand’s problem, these fine Yorkshire agony uncles and aunts are well versed in providing the best advice money can buy. So, if you’re looking for great solutions look no further. Just don’t mention the football ...


Name: Mike Phillipson

Position: Managing Director

Founded: 2002

Number of staff: 21

Specialist disciplines: Advertising.

Clients: Fox’s Biscuits, Alliance and Leicester, BSkyB, DFS, Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries, Superdrug, The Car People, Warren James, etc.

Why are you “ones to watch”? We are the fastest growing advertising agency in the UK outside London, with audited billings of £32 million.

What are your plans for 2004? Be the fastest growing advertising agency in the UK, including London, with audited billings of £50 million.

Who is your role model? Chris Jones (ex-President of JWT Worldwide).


Name: Carl Hopkins

Position: Managing Director

Founded: 1982

Number of staff: 60

Specialist disciplines: Direct response, media planning/buying, interactive, PR.

Clients: HBOS, British Energy, BT, Royal Mint, Damart, Sharp, Corgi, Welcome Financial Services, Corgi, Asda, Lakeland.

Why are you “ones to watch”? Still independent. In 2003 increased staff by 18 per cent, increased sales by 25 per cent. Acquired Blueprint Marketing Services. Opened second office.

What are your plans for 2004? Growth. Invest in our new acquisition and new office and grow the design and PR aspects of the JDA Group.

Who is your role model? None. Don’t mean to be pompous. I admire many agencies and have time for a lot of the main players but I try to shape JDA to the demands of our clients and the strengths of our staff.

Harrison Cowley Leeds

Name: Josie Fitzhugh

Position: Head of PR

Founded: Harrison Cowley was founded in 1962. HC’s Leeds office was set up in 1995

Number of staff: 6

Specialist disciplines: Harrison Cowley offers a full public relations service, including marketing communications, event management, sponsorship management, press office function, corporate and internal relations, community relations and issues and crisis management.

Clients: Age Concern Enterprises, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Camelot, Centrica Storage, Department of Health, Harrogate International Conference Centre, Land Rover, Lloyds TSB Autolease, Mitchells & Butlers (Flares, Reflex), the Royal Armouries, Sainsbury’s Property Company, Wagg Foods, Westler Foods, Whitby Seafoods, The Yorkshire Party.

Why are you “ones to watch”? The average life is very local with every major element happening within a 14-mile radius of home. This makes it critical that every business thinks regionally as well as nationally when it comes to external communication. With strong, well-established offices in Leeds and Manchester, as well as eight other offices across the UK, Harrison Cowley is perfectly placed to tailor activity right down to that all-important local level.

What are your plans for 2004? We will be making our presence felt right across the regions. Last year we strengthened the team and broadened our offering to encompass the full range of marketing communications services. This year we’re set to focus on using these skills to deliver the very best for our clients.

Who is your role model? My mum – for making the best of whatever came her way.

Lowd+Klea Ltd

Name: Marrianne del Garbutt

Position: Managing Director

Founded: 2002

Number of staff: 5 permanent

Specialist disciplines: Creative communication, accessible to everyone.

Clients: visit www.lowdandklea.com.

Why are you “ones to watch”? We always push creativity forward without compromising communication or our clients. We are a succinct and serious team.

What are your plans for 2004? To keep expanding creative opportunities across all media.

Who is your role model? Personally, I don’t have one, but I do have a considered list of people whom I respect and admire for numerous different reasons.


Name: Katie Dart

Position: Marketing Manager

Founded: 1983

Number of staff: 120

Specialist disciplines: Advertising, PR, digital, design, direct marketing, promotional marketing, research, event management and recruitment.

Selected Clients: Warburtons, Del Monte, Somerfield, Chewits, BITC, Persimmon, BBC TV Licensing, Anglian Home Improvements, Yorkshire Forward, Littlewoods, Young’s Seafood, Supercook, DfES, Whitbread, and Learndirect.

Why are you “ones to watch”? Although Brahm celebrates its 21st year this August, we remain an ambitious and vibrant agency, recording our most successful year in 2003. The succession plan, which sees a dynamic new management team (led by joint MDs John Morgan and Julie Hanson) replacing the founding partners over the next two years, has given the agency a new surge of adrenaline, which is reflected throughout our specialisms in our performance, client portfolio and creativity.

What are your plans for 2004? To continually strive to achieve our mission: to have the best people working for the best clients.

Who is your role model? We don’t have one in our own industry; we are changing the shape of marketing communication that currently exists. Outside of our industry, Tesco would be a great role model for us. Whatever they do, they do well. They successfully satisfy a thousand different individuals’ needs to a consistently high standard.

The Union Advertising Agency (Leeds)

Name: Clive Goldstein

Position: Managing Director

Founded: 2001

Number of staff: 14 (+50 – Union Group)

Specialist disciplines: Advertising, direct marketing, design, marketing, web design and on-line marketing.

Clients: Union clients include – Baxter’s, British Glass, Dupont, Express Gifts, Irish Sea Ferries, James Hardie Europe, Makro, The Sofa Lounge, Velux, Vladivar.

Why are you “ones to watch”? Top creative agency outside London consistently. Consistent effectiveness award-winners. It’s our creativity and attention to clients’ requirements that gets results. Creative integrated offering. We are open, passionate, honest, friendly and flexible when we work with our clients. We form a UNION between agency and client, which equals better understanding, better work and better results. No bullshit.

What are your plans for 2004? To continue our growth and maintain our high standards of creativity, effectiveness and service for our clients. (To win the fathers’ race at my son’s sports day).

Who is your role model? As an agency we admire the truly great mould-breaking agencies (where most of us have worked in the past) – Saatchi & Saatchi, DDB. Professionally, I’ve worked with so many highly talented people in my career it’s hard to pick out only one.


Name: Gordon Forbes

Position: Managing Director

Founded: 1989

Number of staff: 47

Specialist disciplines: Consumer/B-to-B/trade PR, event & sponsorship maximisation.

Clients: Retained by 33 clients nationally, including Carlsberg-Tetley, Nestle, BMW Mini, Hyundai, Yorkshire Bank, Irwin Mitchell, npower and Britannia Building Society.

Why are you “ones to watch”? We have a 14-year track record of surprising people with the calibre and stature of client we attract to a regional agency.

What are your plans for 2004? Grow fee income by 10 per cent and increase staff numbers to 50+.

Who is your role model? Kenny Dalglish.

Brilliant Independent Media Specialists Ltd

Name: Steve Lane

Position: Chief Executive

Name: David Moutrie

Position: Managing Director

Founded: Brilliant was launched in September 1999 and was created as a result of the merger between Media Lane and DMS.

Number of staff: The company employs 62 staff across its two offices in Leeds and Manchester.

Specialist disciplines: Media research, direct response, online, recruitment advertising.

Clients: Media – Best Western, Carpet Mill, CD Bramall, Columbia Sportswear DFS, DVLA, Dixon Motors. Farmfoods, Floors 2 Go, Health Now, Leeds & Holbeck BS, Machine Mart, Morphy Richards, Poundstretcher, Safestyle, Warren James, Welcome Car Finance, Yorkshire Forward. Recruitment – Adecco, Bob Marche, Ellis Fairbank, HMI, Morrison’s, Marshalls, Shearings, University of Central Lancashire, Yorkshire Bank.

Why are you the “ones to watch”? Our unique culture and our commitment to excellence in all areas of our operation has enabled us to remain as the largest privately owned media specialist in the UK, with annual billings approaching £90m. We have continued to invest in new people, systems and services and remain tremendously ambitious. The launch of our Manchester operation in 2003 is reflective of our aggressive growth strategy and confidence in the marketplace.

What are your plans for 2004? Our first priority is to consolidate the new accounts that we have won and maintain the high service standard, upon which our business is built, across all our clients. We will continue to invest heavily in our infrastructure and the training and development of our people as we strive to achieve our objective of being a £100m business by the end of 2004.

Who is your role model? Graham Kirkham (Founder and Chief Executive of DFS).

State of the Art

Name: Louise Harrison

Position: Managing Director

Founded: June 1990

Number of staff: 7

Specialist disciplines: Point of sale, literature and packaging.

Clients: HBOS plc, Ragdoll, Hallmark, E.C. de Witt.

Why are you “ones to watch”? We pride ourselves on our creativity, attention to detail and customer service. We are ones to watch not because anything out of the ordinary is going to happen to us but because we are always going to be there, providing great service to our clients and answering their briefs creatively and commercially. The same as we have always done!

What are your plans for 2004? Effectively service and grow existing accounts.

Who is your role model? My mother.

the SPIRIT of...

Name: Alan Rogan

Position: Managing Director

Founded: 2001

Number of staff: 10

Specialist disciplines: Brand development, packaging, new media, corporate ID.

Clients: Barr Soft Drinks, Nestle, Cadbury’s, Arla, ACDOCO, Hasbro, Kerry Foods, Cherry Valley, Aveca, Panzani UK, Soller US, Ashbury Confectionery, ISA, Westler Foods, Kitchen Range Foods, Primetime Petfoods.

Why are you “ones to watch”? After only 3 years in business we have managed to sustain growth in terms of high-quality staff levels, turnover and profits by producing consistently good work for a variety of FMCG clients, who are now providing us with a solid foundation of regular work, upon which we feel we can now build to the next level.

What are your plans for 2004? To maintain a steady growth (three more staff) in “quality” turnover and keep on “enjoying” what we all do for a living.

Who is your role model? Jonathan Sands (Elmwood).

Mediavest Leeds

Name: Dominic Geary

Position: Director

Founded: February 2003

Number of staff: 5

Specialist disciplines: Media planning and buying.

Clients: Booths Supermarkets, Paramount Hotels, Stoves, Ebac, The Car People, New World, UK Independence Party, Belling, Maglite, Tate & Lyle, Arriva Trains Northern, Hotelnet.co.uk.

Why are you “ones to watch”? If 2003 is anything to go by, it should be exciting!

What are your plans for 2004? Planning for 2005 and avoiding questionnaires!

Who is your role model? Annette, of course!

The Thinking Agency

Name: James Eate

Position: Managing Director

Founded: 1960 – re-invented 2002

Staff: 14

Specialist disciplines: Brand development, design, advertising.

Clients include: Yorkshire Culture, Arriva, Sail Rail, Ryalux Carpets, Dales Holiday Cottages, igen, Leeds City Council, Lightwater Valley, National Grid, Netto, Search Group, Sportsshoes Unlimited, Education Leeds.

Why are you “ones to watch”? We’re a bit like Chelsea – we’ve invested a lot of money, we have new players in the team and we’ve already spent two years getting the right formation so we’ll give the Premiership leaders a run for their money in 2004.

What are your plans for 2004? Continue to produce outstanding results for our clients, win at least three significant new clients and break the habits of a lifetime by entering awards.

Who is your role model? Miles Hilton-Barber. Since becoming blind he’s allowed nothing to stop him from achieving his goals. As he says, “the only limits in your life are those you accept yourself”. The same principle applies to a business.


Name: Jonathan Sands

Position: Chairman

Founded: 1977 with an MBO in 1989

Number of staff: 45

Specialist disciplines: Branding and new product development.

Clients: ASDA, BBC, B&Q, the FA, GNER, McCain, Opera North, Pets at Home, Royal Mail, Wembley National Stadium, Whyte and Mackay.

Why are you “ones to watch”? Because we have three major initiatives that we will drive in 2004. These are to turbo-charge the development of our London office. The second is to drive our latest development to our Step Change process “Step Change Metrics” in association with TNS and the final one must remain secret until we have all our ducks in a row.

What are your plans for 2004? See above.

Who is your role model? Gerry Garcia “it’s no longer good enough to be the best of the best you have to be the only ones who do what you do.”

Advertising Principles

Name: Bernie May

Position: Managing Partner

Founded: 1986

Number of staff: 120

Specialist disciplines: Advertising, media, brand strategy, interactive, communications planning, consumer insight/research, design and direct marketing.

Clients: HSBC, D&A, Seven Seas, Ronseal, Halewood International, JD Williams, Rest Assured, Disney, Nestlé, Lakeland Limited and many, many more! Appointed by Vidal Sassoon, Ebac, Denby & Astracast in 2003.

Why are you “ones to watch”? We are unique in Leeds as we are a “true” communications agency that offers media neutral planning as well as conventional agency creative. We believe media has a critical role in marketing communications so we don’t abdicate it to a third party “buyer”. This, together with new brand development techniques, will ensure we remain the leading agency in Leeds.

What are your plans for 2004? Growth from our new initiatives and expanding blue chip client base.

Who is your role model? I don’t have one. Individuals should have strong self-belief and convictions, not compare themselves to others.

Lynx PR

Name: Sarah Giangregorio

Position: Account Director

Founded: 1987

Number of staff: 9

Specialist disciplines: CSR, community relations and media relations.

Clients: National Grid, Halifax, Miller Homes, YEDL,

Aire Valley – Leeds, Leeds Media – and many more.

Why are you “ones to watch”? Lynx PR has been in Leeds for more than 16 years and now, after a spell as the strong silent type, we have built an excellent team and will be shouting from the roof tops in 2004.

What are your plans for 2004? Continue to work with and target bigger, better quality clients, who appreciate us.

Who is your role model? Elizabeth I – the ultimate controller of her own image.

Poulter Partners

Name: Tamarind Wilson

Position: Head of Marketing

Founded: 1969

Number of staff: 145

Specialist disciplines: Advertising, brand consultancy, design, direct marketing, interactive marketing, PR, sales promotion.

Clients: Baby Bio, Bailey Telecom, Britvic, Co-op, Eversheds, Fox’s Confectionery, Gala Leisure, Glen Dimplex, Hebridean Cruises, Hewlett-Packard, Jet2, Jeyes, John Cotton, L’Oreal, Meadowhall, Midland Mainline, Redrow Homes, Scottish & Southern Electric, Shop Direct, William Hill, Yorkshire Forward, Yorkshire International Business Convention.

Why are you “ones to watch”? Irrespective of the fact that Poulter Partners is firmly established as Yorkshire’s lead agency and was voted “National Agency of the Year in 2003”, the business is hungrier than ever for success and has an entrepreneurial spirit, constantly striving for growth and development.

What are your plans for 2004? Of course, winning new business and exceeding the expectations of our existing clients has to be a priority for the year, as always. In addition, we have invested a lot of time and resources into the consultancy and technology sides of the business to complement our traditional strengths in effective brand communication. We are really beginning to see this pay off not just in terms of clients buying our thinking but also with regard to brand delivery. Increasingly, clients buy ideas that they want implementing across a number of platforms and the strategy has to be well thought through in order to maximise budgets in every area. This type of approach will form a major part of our strategy going forward.

Who is your role model? Most recently: Martin Johnson. Pivotal to the team, led from the bottom up and by example. Plus, he persevered over a number of years to achieve what he has, even when the support wasn’t there – proving hard work and determination do pay off!

an agency called england

Name: Tony Stanton

Position: CEO

Founded: In 1989

Number of staff: Currently 45-ish

Specialist disciplines: England is a full service marketing communications agency offering strategic planning and consultancy, advertising, design, direct marketing, new media, media planning and buying, PR.

Clients: Have predominantly included: FMCG, financial services, travel and leisure, alcoholic beverages, public sector, property development and inward investment.

Why are you “ones to watch”? England has a young, hungry and talented team of winners and, due to lots of recent success, is looking to expand this throughout 2004 to build the best all round team in the regions. England is acquisitive, buying three Leeds agencies in as many years, including CWG. Although it has grown through acquisition, the agency has recently experienced substantial growth grown through new business wins and has had its most gratifying successes especially when pitching for new work from outside the region. As a team it is pushing the boundaries of direct response marketing, using TV and technology, delivering massively successful, effective B2C campaigns in difficult, often undifferentiated, markets. England is also doing an increasing amount of “political” work, which will allow it to build even more of a reputation. England was winner of the Adline/Marketeer Northern Design Consultancy of the Year Award’s Financial Poll and also recently came 6th in a top ten of UK agencies with the silliest name! That makes it memorable, and means it gets noticed.

What are your plans for 2004? We have many plans for 2004 including: ï To continue the great work we do for our clients. ï Bring even more talent to our team. ï Win another five major clients. ï Keep looking for good acquisitions. ï Most of all, to continue to enjoy what we do!

Who is your role model? Don’t really have one that stands out – if pushed, maybe Sir Martin Sorrell. I think he’s very acquisitive and very clever.


Name: Julian Kynaston

Position: Chairman

Founded: 1993

Number of staff: 38

Specialist disciplines: Marketing strategy. Brand planning and creative insights, supported by total campaign solutions. PR.

Clients: ghd, Heinz, Spear & Jackson, The Damned, Symphony Group, Huthwaite International.

Why are you “ones to watch”? We are delivering top-line growth for our clients, and that is attractive to any ambitious business. Our approach has turned the conventions of agency practice upside-down. We are successfully driving brand-thinking into client boardrooms and giving our clients the courage to take the sort of bold decisions that deliver sustainable results.

What are your plans for 2004? Develop our international experience. Add to our world-class Planning & Insights team. Increase our profile through the UK as thought-leaders in brand planning and creative insights.

Who is your role model? I set my own standards. I respect any individual who has values and stands by them.

s w a m p

Name: Simon Wadsworth

Position: CEO of Digital Marketing Agency

Founded: April 2002

Number of staff: Nine full-time.

Specialist disciplines: Consultancy, e-business planning, web design, DVD creation, wireless, online marketing and interactive/digital TV.

Clients: Heinz, Umbro, La Redoute, Comic Relief, Learn Direct, Best Western Hotels, OAG Data, Streamserve.

Why are you “ones to watch”? Because of the pedigree of the swamp team. Every swampie has years of experience providing digital solutions on some of the biggest and best brands in the World. Nearly thirty national and international awards for new media prove that we’ve been getting it right for years.

What are your plans for 2004? Times have changed and swamp won’t be employing hundreds of new staff and taking them on extravagant jollies. The swamp is designed to stay lean and mean and our clients appreciate that this translates into them receiving a superior service. We intend to continue growing the swamp carefully. We intend to ensure all our current clients remain happy with us. We intend to continue welcoming new clients into the swamp. We intend to drink beer after work on Fridays.

Who is your role model? Peter Wilkinson is certainly an inspiration. He’s a Leeds businessman who grew and sold the internet businesses Sports Internet, Planet Online and Freeserve.


Name: Alan Simpson

Position: Creative Director

Founded: 2002

Number of staff: Three.

Specialist disciplines: TTL/sales promotion

Clients: Express Dairies, Shop Direct.Coors, Intechnology.

Why are you “ones to watch”? Big TTL announcement imminent. Seven-figure account.

What are your plans for 2004? Recruit a senior business partner to help develop the Church brand here in the North of England and in Scotland.

Who is your role model? Church Bedford.

Thompson Design

Name: Phil Dean, Ian Thompson

Position: Managing Director

Founded: 1984

Number of staff: 10

Specialist disciplines: Brand communications.

Clients: Yorkshire Forward, Smith & Nephew, Symphony Group, Paramount Hotels, WYPlayhouse, Ragdoll.

Why are you “ones to watch”? The marketplace, our experience, our momentum and the way business is going have all come together to make the time right for us. We’ve been the “ones to watch” for too long.

What are your plans for 2004? Go for growth – this is exactly the right time to be aggressive on the new business front. We had our best year ever last year – and this in a fairly lean marketplace – and we will be looking to build on this whilst servicing the living daylights out of our existing clients. Being singularly client-focused at all times will be the key to maintaining and sustaining robust growth.

Who is your role model? Steve Jobs, CEO at Apple – he is a top boy. A shrewd and successful businessman, who not only turned around the business but made an incredible success of Apple and also had the vision to invest in Pixar. He has an inherent understanding of how design can be a real point of difference in business – his appointment of Jonathan Ive (a Brit, by the way) as head of design was pure genius.


Name: Martin O’Toole

Position: Director

Founded: March 2002

Number of staff: 20

Specialist disciplines: Advertising and design.

Clients: Thomas Cook, Jet2.com, Tate & Lyle, COI, Royal Armouries, Remington, Littlewoods Bet Direct, Persimmon Homes, Storm Watches and a fair few more.

Why are you “ones to watch”? Because you say we are, and you’re Adline, so you know your onions.

What are your plans for 2004? Our plan for 2004 is making that client list of ours a bit longer. That, and continuing to have great relationship with our clients – we’re all holidaying together in Filey this summer.

Who is your role model? Wayne Sleep – such amazing style, grace and poise.


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