Newhaven

Newhaven - Scottish Advertising Agency of the Year

By The Drum, Administrator

November 2, 2007 | 6 min read

Making Friends and Influencing Folk

Is it hard to maintain a high quality creative reputation when you work with blue-chip clients that might not be known for their creative bravery?

Our so-called 'blue chip' clients have appointed us for the very reason that they know we can push their creative product.

So don't ever assume that bigger clients aren't brave. There's a fine line between being brave and being foolhardy. Hopefully we demonstrate that we know where that line is.

When Newhaven was launched, with Tennent's lager on the books, many said that it would only be when you brought in more, big name clients, that you could really be judged. What judgement do you think rivals in the industry will now make on Newhaven?

It would be hard not to judge us as successful. We hope that our peers recognise that we're doing something a little different, certainly culturally, and perhaps we've freshened things up in our industry. We've brought many new faces into the industry and we continue to grow a lot of the talent in Scotland. That can only be a good thing for everyone.

Or we might just be seen as a pain in the arse.

Will you look to establish an office anywhere else in the UK or further afield?

We are certainly looking to establish new clients in the UK and further afield. Never been convinced that renting a broom cupboard in Wandsworth is the way to do it. We didn't win Penderyn by opening Newhaven, Newport. And we don't need a Yorkshire office to service our friends in Halifax.

How important is it to maintain a high profile in the industry?

It's more important that our clients maintain the highest possible profile with their consumers. If we can help them do this, people will know all about us.

Do you have a strategy to maintain your culture despite the fast growth?

It's important we all stay close to our client's business and our people's ambitions. A culture based on an interest in people first not necessarily money and business models is what we promote.

We always hoped we would grow quickly, that's why we bought a building that we could grow into. And there's still plenty room for growth. 77 Montgomery Street is a place that encourages a free-flow of ideas between all the people who inhabit it, and that includes the many talented professionals in many creative businesses. Consequently our clients benefit from a greater range of thinking than happens in more traditional, closeted agency set-ups. We also do a lot of things out of hours with people in the building. Next week Cavan Convery is teaching us how to build a rocket in our Night School.

What are your plans for the next year?

In terms of new business, it will be hard to top the last 12 months in which we secured Bank of Scotland, ScottishPower, Scottish Water and Penderyn, among others. And while we will be busy building these new relationships and creating exciting new campaigns for all our clients, there is a real desire to grow the business in some new and exciting ways, some of which may not involve the business of communication. We're buying an ambulance station, by the way.

Is it important to be liked? Or more important to be feared? Is a healthy rivalry, erm, healthy?

It is important to be liked. Who wants to work their heart out for a company or culture that is unpopular? And healthy rivalry is good. It keeps us all on our toes and hopefully standards improve.

Sure, we all want to win the great bits of business and the big industry awards, and for the most part there's a healthy spirit of competition between agencies.

Do you find it hard to attract the right talent?

Thankfully no. People know that if you get a job at Newhaven, you'll get the chance to develop quickly and really flourish. Everyone can contribute positively to the way we do things. Because we have this reputation, people want to work here. But we've also shown that we can think laterally about appointments and recruit people into the industry who may not have considered a career in advertising. This keeps our talent pool really fresh.

What do you think of the current standards of Scottish advertising?

It would be boring to work in this industry if we didn't always believe that there's room for improvement.

You have invested in Spring, adding a digital offering to what you do. What important trends do you predict for the ad industry over the next year?

If we told you, we'd have to kill you! There's no doubt that things are constantly shifting and it's incumbent upon all of us to not only keep up with the pace of change, but to force the pace too by finding new and innovative ways to engage. We invested in Spring, not because they 'do digital', but because the partners Ed Carter and Marie Storrar are genuine innovators, share our culture and buy lots of sweets.

The trend to offer all services (or as many services as you can) under one roof is growing in Scotland. Will this model continue to be successful? Or is the blurring of boundaries a problem?

We have never advocated buying in bits and bobs of other disciplines and sticking them under one roof. We have always recognised that the best people, in whatever discipline, tend to work for themselves. That's why we've always operated a truly collaborative model, allowing us to work with the best people available on any given project. We'd hate to enforce a 'one-size-fits-all' solution on any of our clients.

Would you consider an offer from a bigger group if an attractive offer were to come? And what would the conditions be?

NO. We're not for sale and apparently plenty of other places are. We're far too independent to play a corporate game.

Can Scottish ad agencies compete on a UK or even global scale?

We have the talent to compete, and the world gets smaller every day, which should play into our favour.

You've said in the past that clients still have access to all the founding directors. How far would you go to please your clients?

As far as Glasgow, Belfast, Halifax, Cardiff, Luton and Leuven. (Zane)

All the way. (Jonathan)

Not as far as they'd like (Ken)

Further than they'll let me (Gareth)

With staff numbers up to almost 30, how soon before we see a breakaway from Newhaven?

Gareth is having twins. Three art directors in one house spells breakaway to me.

Newhaven

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