Ayrshire focus

By The Drum, Administrator

August 10, 2006 | 9 min read


ï Established: 1999

ï Background of key directors: Stephen Cosh, managing director, has worked in the industry most of his adult life, primarily as a designer then moving into marketing and consultancy, although he still gets his hands dirty on a Mac. Graeme Niven, account director, has worked across a multitude of sectors and has won awards for strategy whilst working in academia, while Allan Sloan, technical director, looks after all technical issues.

ï Number of staff: 12 full time, plus partners.

ï Key services offered: Brand and product strategy and identity; media planning, response planning, idea development; graphic, product and exhibition design, copywriting; website design, bespoke e-commerce systems; game design.

ï Turnover: £1.1m (fees)

ï Key clients: Private sector: Ayrshire Chamber, GasSure, Glasgow Golf Club, Houlden Jewellers, Inglis Howie, Laing the Jeweller, Motorspeed.com, North British Tours, Roslin Institute, Weir Pumps, National Trust for Scotland, North Ayrshire Council, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Research Institutes, South Ayrshire Council, Borderline Theatre, Dune Music London, The Maclaurin Gallery.

ï What are the main advantages of being based in Ayrshire? Being in Ayrshire allows Paligap to offer clients a lower cost base than would be possible if it were city-based.

It’s also a nicer place to work than in a city, fresher air, more scenery – altogether more inspiring.

Ayr was also recently described by a Herald columnist as either a 1960 Brighton or a trendy seaside resort. It’s neither. Ayr is slowly becoming a suburb of Glasgow with a lot of thriving local businesses and a lot of city commuters. The improvement of the A77 has been excellent for Ayrshire business as a whole.

It’s surprising how many prospective clients think that you have to go to the city for great creativity. That’s nonsense. It’s the same mentality as banks moving contracts out of Edinburgh to London. It doesn’t make sense. Creativity is a people thing not a place thing.

ï Are there difficulties in attracting the right staff to work in the area? Not at all. We pay better than most agencies in the city, it’s a more relaxed place to work than the city and we really look after our people. In seven years of trading we have only lost two staff and the amount of CVs we get from people employed by city agencies always makes me smile.

ï Are a majority of clients based locally, or do you work with clients all over Scotland, the UK? Fifty per cent of our clients are based in Ayrshire, 30 percent in Glasgow and the rest throughout the UK, with three or four in London.

We very rarely wait for a client to ask us to work for them, mostly we decide who we want to work for and approach the client with ideas which I think is the reason for our geographical spread.

ï How is the current market for your company? Fairly buoyant but we still have to work hard to get the sales in. We employ two full-time sales people who are backed-up with an account manager. It took nearly three years of heavy self-promotion to drum up blanket awareness in Ayrshire before the company really took off but now we find when we speak to people they have already heard of us.

ï When you are pitching for business do you find yourself up against other local teams, or different agencies from across Scotland? Most of the time we are up against Glasgow agencies if we are invited to pitch. However, 70 percent of our new business is not pitch based. We are very proactive in sales and generally gain business through direct sales or referral.


ï Established: The agency was first launched by Alex Knox in 1996, changing its name to Advertisingworks in 2002. It has had full agency recognition by print and broadcast media since 2000 and is the only Ayrshire agency to have this recognition.

ï Background of key personnel: Alex Knox, managing director, was in newspapers for 27 years prior to launching the agency. He was involved in management, sales and creative roles. During his career with The Herald, Scottish & Universal, Cumbrian Newspapers and Scotsman Communications, he launched three free weekly newspapers – all of which are still published.

Daniel Knox is creative director; Sue Heathcote, office manager; and Jim Crossan – new business manager – was advertising manager of What Everyone Wants before running an agency in Dubai.

ï Number of staff: 7

ï Key services offered: Full creative service, media planning and buying, web development and print design and management.

ï Turnover: £1million +

ï Key clients: South Ayrshire Council, Kilmarnock College, Ayr Racecourse, Hourstons, Strachans Motor Group, Andrew Wright Windows, Momentum, The McNee Group of Companies, Stewart Property, JRG Group, Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce, VisitScotland Prestwick, Ayr Flower Show, CML Recruitment.

ï What are the main advantages of being based in Ayrshire? The office is one minute’s walk from the beach!

ï Are a majority of clients based locally, or do you work with clients all over Scotland, the UK? While the majority of our clients are Ayrshire-based, we have clients in Argyll, Glasgow, Majorca and the Cayman Islands. This year we have placed advertising in 14 different countries, using five different languages.

ï How is the current market for your company? We have a growing client list although the market is very competitive and margins are tighter.

ï When you are pitching for business do you find yourself up against other local teams, or different agencies from across Scotland? Most clients have been gained by referrals and recommendations. We have been in a couple of competitive pitches against both Glasgow and Ayrshire opposition. In both instances the clients seemed to prefer our ‘no nonsense’ approach and we won the business.

More and more agencies are totally hung up on ‘branding’ and seem to have forgotten the basics of retail advertising. We have plenty of experience in that field and relish working with retail advertisers.

Evolution Designs

ï Established: 2004, Shona McMahon

ï Background: Worked in a small design and printshop in Ayr (PDC Copyprint) for over nine years becoming the manageress. Left to work at Brown Brothers in Irvine for a year and a half but went back to PDC after the company changed hands and offered a position she could not refuse. McMahon then took a year out to study art & design, at Ayr College. Before the course finished she was offered a place at a local publishing company, Strathayr Publishing, as the sole graphic designer and editor for two popular nursing titles. After working with the company for over 6 years, she then decided it was time to venture out on her own.

ï Key services offered: Graphic design – magazines, brochures, business stationery.

ï Key Clients: Troys of Jersey, Donald Ross Estate Agents, Scottish Nurse and Irish Nurse magazines, Hunters of Edinburgh, Williams Estate Agents (Northern Ireland), Aspen Estates (Jersey), FullOn Health & Beauty, Local Tackle.

ï Main advantages of being based in Ayrshire: Ayrshire is small enough to provide the personal touch for clients and easy commuting but large enough to source new clients.

ï Are a majority of clients based locally, or do you work with clients all over Scotland, the UK and further afield? The majority of clients are further afield than Ayrshire, with many clients based in Jersey and Northern Ireland as well as a main sector being further north in Scotland.

ï How is the current market for Ayrshire? The current market could not be better. Since Evolution’s clients are not just Ayrshire-based and that a main source of contracts are through a local publishing company, Scottish Media Services, has proved to be beneficial – meaning that the need to pitch for business is less frequent.

ï Is demand growing for freelance services? Definitely. As there are no limitations and very little overheads, prices can be kept lower, while clients can be catered for on a personal basis, where needed. No client is simply a name and number. Every project undertaken gets the same standard of service.

Kingscroft Logistics

ï Established: 1997

ï Background of key directors: Kevin Johnston – worked within the packaging industry for the past 25 years.

ï Number of staff: Three, but will be increasing shortly.

ï Key services offered: Design of packaging, covering most disciplines within packaging; BRC/IoP accredited allowing food grade products to be supplied; with links to manufacturers in China allowing more detail to be incorporated within the packaging being produced.

ï What are the main advantages of being based in Ayrshire: Allows me to work close to home with all the links for air, sea and road available to all parts of the country.

ï Are a majority of clients based locally, or do you work with clients all over Scotland, the UK and further afield? UK-wide

ï How is the current market for your company? Current market is buoyant.

ï Do you get many requests from the creative industries for unusual or custom packaging? Some, but would like to develop more links with the creative industries who are trying to give their clients an edge by looking at their packaging in more detail.

ï What are the current trends in the packaging and logistics field at present? More focus is being given to flexible packaging and the options that can be achieved through using this new medium compared to cartons.


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