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Scottish MArketing Association

By The Drum, Administrator

March 22, 2007 | 5 min read

Mark Gorman, chairman, SMA

The times they are a-changing, as Bob Dylan sang, and that’s certainly true of the happenings at the Scottish Marketing Association. Since its inception two years ago, the SMA has carved a solid niche in the Scottish marketing communications landscape. Its role has evolved as it has found its feet, and its members have enjoyed widespread success by working together to create strong alliances. Now, though, the SMA has a new chairman, Mark Gorman. And Gorman, the co-founder of 1576 and former chief executive of IAS Smarts, has grand plans for the year ahead.

Through the SMA 2.0, as he calls it, Gorman aims to create an association heavily geared towards getting companies and agencies together – through networking events such as the marketing quiz – with a view to keeping work in Scotland. Several members have already worked together on accounts and have found the association to be a useful tool in garnering business. Gorman intends to build on that success.

Gorman took over as chairman from Graham Atha, director of Frame, last month following Atha’s careful guidance of the only communications organisation to have an exclusively Scottish membership.

While he has taken over as chairman, Gorman will also continue to lead the Scottish Marketing Communications Action Group through which he hopes to persuade the Scottish Executive to back Scotland’s creative agencies in promoting the country’s industry to potential clients around the world.

The SMA has also recently welcomed Stephen Pearson, strategy and operations director of BD Ntwk, as president of the association, and Edinburgh-based agency, The Union, as its first new signing of 2007.

Since it was formed in 2004, the association has looked to bring the various members of Scotland’s marketing community together in a variety of networking opportunities, which may open up the possibilities of future employment with like-minded members.

Over those two years, events have included a breakfast seminar prior to last year’s Marketing Society annual conference. The seminar was hosted by US inventor and marketing guru Doug Hall, who spoke about the methods Scotland’s marketing community could use to work together to bring the Scottish industry into direct competition with countries around the world.

The SMA was also involved in the recent Building, Buying and Selling Business seminar, which gave all who attended the chance to hear both sides of the acquisition process. Brian Child of McCann Erickson Europe and Brian Rees of PDP took to the stage to discuss their vast experience of the process.

Another initiative undertaken by the group is the Marketing Assembly, which saw the SMA invite representative bodies from Scotland’s marketing community to collaborate on tackling pressing issues in the industry. The assembly, which took place last May, highlighted the problem that only 25 per cent of marketing budgets of Scotland-based clients are spent on local agencies. This is an ongoing issue that the SMA will continue to address, with the aim of building on that figure.

Members are also invited to meetings every month in a bid to open a channel of communication over concerns or ideas that they want to voice.

Speakers already lined up for SMA events for 2007 include Gordon Brown, former director of brands for Tennent’s, Graeme Lindsay, director of marketing at Glenmorangie, Malcolm Roughhead, marketing director of Visit Scotland, and Roger Williams, head of new media and marketing at the Scottish Executive.


Mark Gorman, chairman of the SMA

An association is a body of people organised for a common purpose, to connect ideas and for companionship. We’d do well to remember that as the SMA moves into its second iteration.

SMA 1.0 had a slightly different agenda. As we move on, I want the SMA to be true to its name and purpose. I want it to be a group of people representing organisations with a common purpose, that purpose being success in the world of marketing communications here in Scotland. I have a vision of a bunch of folk unified in their quest to beat the rest by looking for opportunity outside their front doors, beyond their workforce. Because, let’s face it, the marcomms industry is changing by the day, and peer group interaction in an open-minded and collaborative way is becoming an increasingly important business attitude. Community can equal opportunity, because we can’t all know all the answers.

When flux is the order of the day, flexibility is a good state of mind. Openness to new ideas, willingness to take on board partners in the quest for new business and the chance to learn both from each other and from outside speakers has got to be good for the soul – not to mention the balance sheet.

I am determined that the SMA 2.0 will be an interesting, collaborative, focused and exciting idea-sharing association in the true sense of the word.


"The SMA offers assistance in building solid, successful opportunities for creating beneficial alliances, and acts as an effective networking forum with like-minded individuals. Being a member strengthens relations with initiatives and diverse organisations, and provides valuable support and learning."

Abid Manzoor, Oceanic Consulting

"We’re very happy with our involvement with the SMA. We’ve made several good industry contacts, we’ve found new business, and we’ve enjoyed sharing experiences with like-minded people."

David McCusker, Tuna ltd

"SMA Membership has given us access to some of the best names in Scottish Marketing. We've won several major projects through SMA contacts, and the insights given at SMA events have enabled us to go head to head (and beat) some impressive competitors. I strongly encourage companies big and small to take advantage of this great network."

Stephen Budd, Highland Business Research


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