Member spotlight: Our Agency
Just like their website promises Our Agency, specialists in branding and marketing strategy, are a friendly bunch. So, taking advantage of their ‘kettle’s always on’ promise, we caught up with Ian Winterbottom, founding partner, to find out about their award winning work and also to discover how the Our Agency brand reflects their ‘Yorkshireness’!
Based on the beautiful Nostell Estate, Our Agency boasts an enviable portfolio that showcases their support of leading brands and businesses including Metro; ARCO; DeWalt, Visit York and the Turkish Basketball Federation!
With recent campaigns including the highly visible and much-talked about ‘Dead Handy Travel’ for West Yorkshire Ticketing Company, we wanted to know more…..
Sum up your business in just a couple of sentences?
Small agency, big thinkers. We don’t let our size restrict our ambition and we often punch above our weight. Attracting clients with vision, who see beyond the typical ‘agency’ gloss.
What excites you about your business and the work that you do?
Seeing our work in the public domain. Getting feedback (good or bad). Creating something from nothing. Being paid!
Tell us about a recent project?
We’ve been working with Metro and West Yorkshire Ticketing Company (the independent transport operators group) to create the brand for MCard - the first Smart Travel Card outside of London. As part of the product launch we created the zombie movie ‘Outbreak in West Yorkshire’.
Bringing this to life involved pulling together our collective expertise (design, art direction and event planning) plus a number of collaborations with film makers, animators, actors, musicians, make-up artists and not forgetting volunteers - otherwise known as the ‘undead’.
It took months in the planning, days of filming, several 3am starts, lots of sleepless nights and a couple of arguments about Zombies (fast or slow, you decide!). But, with a successful launch, happy clients, new channels explored, great public reaction, budget controlled and target audience reached, we can give ourselves a little pat on the back (and a glass of bubbly).
For us this is a great example of a single vision being realised through collaboration and a client with a little faith, after all who’d have thought that we could have launched this new product with something as ‘off the wall’ as a Zombie movie?
What one piece of work are you most proud of?
So far it has to be the Turkish Basketball Federation rebrand. Understanding the culture, the country, the client and the sport was a massive learning curve for us all. Seeing the images of our brand plastered all over a massive stadium in Istanbul is something we’re very proud of.
Why have you chosen to become a member of Cognitiv?
During the 80/90’s all the Leeds agencies used to meet up at the “Regent Pub” in Chapel Allerton and while we were rivals there was still a great camaraderie. I think it’s important to collaborate, share ideas, experiences and nurture new talent. Creating a vibrant Design & Media network helps promote the sector and adds value to the creative proposition.
What are the biggest issues faced by your sector?
The commoditisation of creativity and the perception that ideas are ‘free’.
What we create cannot be held in your hand, it’s often intangible - particularly at the brainstorm stage. People expect agencies to liberally share their ideas, with no guarantee of reward. But no-one would expect a lawyer, architect or accountant to offer their advice for free.
Somehow, the professional status of our sector has diminished. At Our Agency, we have a combined total of around 20 years of higher education in design between us and yet the view is “anyone can be creative”. Which may be true but not everyone can create something saleable. I can draw a picture of a house but you certainly wouldn’t want to use it as a blueprint to build one.
Ideas are how we pay our bills, not our hobby - although most creative types don’t switch off, even in their own time.
What are the biggest opportunities for your sector?
With discussions taking place about the need to create economies outside of London, and locally here in the North, we’re excited about the potential to promote our region.
We’ve made a great deal of our ‘Northerness’ in our own branding and it’s no accident that we are based here - our Yorkshire values are part of our brand DNA.
Ironically, we’ve worked a lot with international businesses and organisations but recently we’ve tried to get involved with more local activity.
There’s merit in the saying: ‘together we’re better’. Wakefield will never be another London, but equally London can’t offer what we can. Of course every area claims to ‘be unique’ but there's an indomitable spirit to Northerners - we need to brand that!
What do you enjoy the most about working in Wakefield?
It’s Wakey, what’s NOT to like? You can have conversation with someone at a bus stop (they’ll most likely know your aunty).