Here are some of the questions we are regularly asked by interested parties – most often, by potential clients – and the sort of responses we’re likely to offer.  

Do you ever use the resources of other agencies to support your campaigns?

Our 'hub and spoke' business model actively encourages collaboration, with a large number of trusted sister companies and consultants.

A good example is the design and construction of environmental display stands, commissioned by IATA.

While we conceived the creative theme for the stands and wrote/filmed/sourced the content, we recruited the specialist services of Philip Slade, a 3D designer and materials expert, and the set and stand builders, Circle Squared.

A further example would be our use of web builders, Amazing Times, to create a website and e-marketing executions for Green Homes Concierge Service.

Can you produce campaigns for european audiences?

Besides our airport stands (see above), our pan-European environmental campaign for IATA consists of press advertising and films. We create these knowing that they must translate easily into several European languages.

In the pharmaceutical sector, we were appointed to conduct and develop a pan-European positioning exercise for Lescol, one of Novartis’ keystone products. 

Most recently, we’ve been helping Novartis to conduct a survey in Northern Europe into attitudes to Alzheimer’s Disease, in preparation for the launch of a new treatment medium. 

In conducting these projects, we have developed a detailed knowledge of the different cultural, commercial and regulatory conditions pertaining across European countries.

What's your position on integration?

Our agency was conceived as the ultimate expression of the integration principle.

Our creative partner Andy Blackford is widely regarded as a pioneer of the integrated philosophy and throughout his career leading up to KB49, won countless awards as Creative Director of advertising, sales promotion and direct marketing agencies alike.

Angus Jenkinson, our Non-Executive Director, is Professor of Integrated Marketing at Luton Business School and a legendary figure in his field. KB49 has proprietary use of several of the integration tools that he has developed in conjunction with the agency.

Our ‘collaborative village’ of specialist partners allows us to bring together talents from diverse disciplines to create a whole campaign that is bigger than the sum of its parts.

How do you measure your own success?

We attach much importance to the degree of satisfaction of our clients. Some communicate this through a formal review process; but since we have developed firm personal relationships with all of our regular client contacts, we regularly enjoy the benefits of their views, frankly and readily expressed in an informal context!

Turnover is an obvious indicator of our performance, as is gross profit.

We also judge our progress and performance by our conversion of new business. In five years, we have lost only one pitch. And we have continually gained new projects from existing clients where this has been politically or practically possible.

Finally, here at the hub, we are a small and tightly-knit community. The overall contentment and morale of our staff are good indicators of our ‘corporate health’.

Do you work efficiently as a team?

Given our structure, teamwork is in our DNA. In fact, because we regularly pull in specialist disciplines from our ‘collaborative village’ partners, every project has to be a successful example of teamwork.

How do you manage third party costs?

Because we work as a matter of course with 'third party suppliers' (or trusted, regular partners as we prefer to think of them), we are used to obtaining firm estimates, then sticking to them.

In this context, we keep our accounting processes simple and transparent, so that our clients know what they’re paying for and exactly how much it’s costing them.

Another principle of ours (which in the early days raised the eyebrows of our accountants) is to pay our partners’ invoices very quickly – sometimes within thirty minutes of receipt.

While this might be said to have a negative effect on cashflow, the benefits it brings us in terms of loyalty and ‘anxiety to please’ within the collaborative village, simply cannot be overstated.

Are you able to produce highly creative solutions, within the framework of the marketplace, brand strategy and regulatory constraints??

It is our view that in today’s world of fragmented media and cynical consumers, cut-through is the single most important quality of successful advertising.

Therefore we expend a great deal of effort in coming up with disruptive ideas, expressed through unusual media.

To encourage the loyalty of the VIP members of a property investment club, we mailed each of them a Blackberry, programmed with the personal email address of the Chairman. It was perceived as ‘a direct line to the boss’ and generated a great deal of goodwill from the client’s biggest spenders.

CCH is an accountancy software house. They wanted to establish their ‘challenger brand’ credentials against their stuffy, established competitor, Sage. So we wrote them a novel. Accrual World is set in a dystopic world in which accountancy is banned – with catastrophic consequences for global civilisation. It appeared in monthly episodes on AccountingWeb, an online magazine, and is now a published paperback

The display stands we have created for IATA (see above) have thrown up a mass of regulatory issues.  On top of the usual health and safety considerations that occur with any three-dimensional display, we have also had to work through the special security regulations that pertain in different European airports. These affect choice of materials, accessibility, dimensions, and a host of other factors.

I know you’re highly creative. but does your work also meet your clients’ strategic objectives?

We certainly hope so. Take Black ‘n Red – a brand with an odd problem: their ubiquitous notebook was so familiar that many potential customers didn’t even realise it was a brand.

Besides this unusual creative insight, we also made the strategic discovery that office workers believe their choice of notebook ‘says something’ about them.

We employed our Codar and Stellar tools to shape an award-winning campaign that exploited Black n’ Red’s iconic status and distinctive livery.

In one memorable (and award-winning) execution, we commandeered the Daily Telegraph’s droll Alex strip cartoon to underline the aspirational nature of the brand.

How do you measure and define an original creative concept?

The consumer has only a short amount of time to absorb and interpret a creative execution. If work is totally original, it will go straight over his head. So instead we aim to create a fresh twist on a familiar theme. Few advertising agencies write novels for their clients (see above) or erect ecologically-sound houses in Trafalgar Square, as we did for Green Homes Concierge Service.

You're always on about ‘creating real roi’. give me an example.

Our ground-breaking e-marketing campaign for Abbey eliminated one opportunity to reject a sales email and took the customer directly into a creative world of music and animation. Result, when tactically supported by conventional direct mail, was an improvement in ROI over previous campaigns of 40%.

Every agency brags about coming up with ‘new’ ideas. tell me a few of yours.

Writing a serialized novel for a business software client?
Building an environmentally-sound house in the middle of Trafalgar Square?

Avoiding the huge cost of advertising media in European airports by erecting stunning display stands instead?

Our philosophy is based firmly upon producing fresh and obtrusive idea. And our collaborative structure allows us to execute those ideas to the most professional and expert standards. 

Are you able to extend your campaigns using unusual disciplines or media opportunities?

Absolutely. It’s critical to our integrated position that we explore extensions to our campaigns across a wide range of media and disciplines.

Have you won any agency awards?

While we have won countless industry awards as individuals in the past, it is not KB49’s policy to enter work into such schemes.

Our focus is on client satisfaction, sales and ROI. All else we regard as a needless distraction.