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Christmas Feature Scotland

Design Business

By The Drum | Administrator

February 25, 2004 | 5 min read

The balance of power has again shifted. Last year, Glasgow’s 999 Design picked up the coveted Robert Horne Design Consultancy of the Year hat stand at the Radisson SAS Hotel. The year before, Edinburgh-’s navyblue claimed the accolade at the Metro Restaurant in the heart of Edinburgh.

So, following the established pattern, it was perhaps predictable that the top award of the day returned to the Scottish capital as Elmwood collected the award at the stylish Terence Conran-designed Zinc Bar & Grill.

However, before any awards were presented, the day’s guest speaker Rodney Fitch, founder of Fitch London, took to the lectern, offering some pearls of wisdom on the virtues of being creative yet remaining virtuous.


As tradition dictated, all design consultancies were again invited to send in their financial and client details, along with work that had been completed during the last 12 months, for the Creative Poll. The form-fillers were also asked to nominate which head honchos they thought worthy of the accolade of Managing Director of the Year, along with who they would be keeping their eyes on in the next 12 months in the One to Watch category. The results were then collated and compiled into four main categories - Peer Poll, Financial Poll, Creative Poll and a Client Satisfaction Poll - with the consultancy that performed most consistently across these four collecting the title. Other awards included One to Watch, Managing Director of the Year and an award for the best individual piece of creative work submitted for judging in the Creative Poll.

With around 30 creative portfolios entered, the competition to top the Creative Poll was always going to be fierce in the first category. The judging panel, which was made up of Dave Palmer at LOVE Creative, Matt Crosbie of BDH\TBWA, Rich Sorenson at BDH\TBWA and Ian Thompson of Thompson Design, faced a tough task when they assembled early in January at Manchester’s CircleClub to assess the work.

In the next stage of research, to number-crunch the results for the Financial Poll, as ever the numerically illiterate Drum team passed the buck to the arithmetical whizz kids at accountancy firm Baker Tilly. Once the calculators had been put back in their cases the finalists in this area were also identified.

Dipping deeper into the science of creativity, The Drum also asked each of the submitting companies to supply a 15-strong list of their clients to add what is probably the most important aspect – the client relationship – to the mix.

Consultancies that finished in the top five in each of the main polls had their client list sent to MRUK for further research in order to ascertain the strength of the consultancy/client relationship. These results were then placed alongside results of the Financial, Creative and Peer Polls and an average rank was calculated for each consultancy, with the overall winner being the agency that recorded the overall lowest average rank across the four main polls.

With the science bit explained, the results speak for themselves.


It is perhaps surprising that the eventual winner of the Robert Horne Design Consultancy of the Year accolade failed to top any of the poll categories. However, a consistently high showing across a three of the main categories was enough to hoist Elmwood to the top of the pile, with last year’s winner – 999 – toppled to fifth place.

The Peer Poll also saw huge changes. Last year’s winners, Newton.eh6, dropped out of the top ten to leave space for Nevis at the top (which, surprisingly, failed to make the top ten last time around), with Elmwood, Stand and Pointsize following in its wake.

Following weeks of research by MRUK, the Client Poll was compiled. Nevis pipped navyblue, Third Eye and 999 to the title. The clients polled were asked to rate consultancies on Understanding of their Business, Provision of Practical Ideas, Creativity, Service and Accessibility and Value for Money.

The Creative Poll was judged by a group of the North of England’s leading creatives with 29 portfolios entered. But it was work submitted by navyblue that was deemed to be of the highest overall standard. This result was bolstered when navyblue was awarded the prize for Best Piece of Work for “opening and closing” whilst also scooping the second place in the same category for “L.A.U.N.C.H”.

Managing Director of the Year was a closely fought battle with Ken Cassidy of Pointsize, last year’s winner, pushed into third place behind Joe Hall and this year’s winner, Douglas Alexander of navyblue. Alexander has had a busy year bringing in a number of new staff and clients while signing deals with the directors of, what was, Northcross as well as the Nowell Partnership. Alexander recently relinquished his creative director’s hat to concentrate on running the business and his attentions have turned to relocating the agency to a bigger building following its recent growth.

For the second year running, Stand has been voted as the One to Watch. Although now (just) over a year old, those in the design industry have again labelled the agency as the team to keep an eye on. Stand has already completed a raft of work. However, rivals may feel that there is a lot more to come from the Glasgow-based team.

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