The first part of the story of how The Ambitions Agency was born and is written for anyone curious about it or considering starting their own digital marketing agency.
At the heart of the ambitions agency is a desire to see our clients kick their competitors behinds! That really goes back to my early career in advertising: If we were writing the latest Carlsberg Ad then we wanted to make them more famous than Foster’s Stella etc.
So The Ambitions Agency is built for you if you are ambitious for your brand, your business. If you want to win then we’re all in. The tools these days are a little different: the internet and winning there is the key to it all so we made sure to become experts and build a team of excellence.
If it stops being the internet, then we’ll do it again. For now though - it’s digital. Creative, intelligent, brand based digital excellence that creates winners.
After a degree in Economics and French from the University of Sussex, I had joined Coca-Cola on their programme for graduates wanting a career in sales. In all honesty I’m not sure I did want a career in sales but certainly they were a great company and I could see the training and career prospects were good.
Long story short, I was soon lured into the glamorous world of the London Advertising scene and became an Account Executive at a small agency. Moving up the ladder was fairly quick and soon I was working at a big agency on the Compaq computers account. I freelanced because it paid a lot more and by swapping agencies often I felt I could learn faster and gain wider experience.
If you’ve ever worked in an ad agency then you’ll know that it is (or at least always was) a hell of a lot of fun while also being horrendously stressful - maybe these two are connected!
It tends to be that the Creatives’ all work on one floor of the building and that floor is full of great characters and the walls are covered with all sorts of weird and wonderful art.
Now, it cannot be said that the Account Management floor were very dull but certainly the glamour of turning up to work in jeans and a T-shirt and then spending the day having ideas seemed very alluring. I applied to Watford College where the legendary Tony Cullingham ran the UK’s most effective and exclusive course. Over 700 people apply each year for 30 places.
I made myself a promise: Apply and if you get in, you quit your job and become an impoverished student creative at 28 years old.
If you don’t, you stick with Account Management.
Well, I got in. I did the course and then started placements. My first ad was while I was on placement for £66 a week at VMLY&R for Colgate Toothpaste. On placements the idea was that you got to work on live briefs with the teams that were employed and if you were amazing for 14 days you might get extended. If you cling on long enough and do amazing work you would get a job. So getting an ad out was a BIG deal!
The theory that if you did well on placement meant you got a job was all very well but my Art Director partner, Luca and I would soon discover that it wasn’t quite that easy. Over 12 months we created numerous ads which presumably the agency got paid for and we even created an ad for The Guardian Newspaper that one a number of industry awards. Still no job.
After a long placement at BBH working on Levis TV ads we were finally offered a job. Not here but across town at Saatchi & Saatchi. This was good because my parents knew the name and finally I had a career and could do things like eating and paying rent.
After a long stint at Saatchi’s and some other agencies I was approached to work direct in-house at Samsung as Creative Director on the UK mobile phone marketing campaigns. It was great fun and I developed a love of the Korean way of life (well, the food for one thing). I must have passed something on to my (then 8 year-old) son as he now lives in Korea!
With three children in the household and a long-held yearning to return to the green spaces of Devon where I had spent part of my childhood, now was the time to Go West!
In Part 2 we will finally move into the launch of The Ambitions Agency