That Was the Year That Was (2013): James Jefferson, creative director, Equator

GOOD year, bad year? As 2013 draws to a close, we ask James Jefferson, creative director and co-founder of digital marketing agency, Equator: ‘How has it been for you?’.

Briefly, what is it that you do?

I am creative director and co-founder of Equator, an integrated and digitally-led agency. So I colour-in during the day and worry during the evening.

Choose three words that sum up 2013 (so far), from a professional point of view.


In 2012, what was your biggest ambition for 2013, and to what extent did you achieve it?

We smashed it. I was really excited about breaking into the US this year. From day one, I had a vision for Equator to be a global agency, hence the global name, and 2013 was the year that happened. So as 2013 draws to a close, we’ve succeeded in not only launching our Big Apple studio but also our Kiev development centre. Our global team now numbers over 120 very busy, super-talented ‘geeks’.

How has 2013 (so far) been for you, personally?

A rollercoaster. As well as doing all of the above, I have a sideline as a trustee board member of an organisation called Creative & Cultural Skills. So I’ve spent the year dashing between growing and mentoring our team of designers, tackling ever-bigger client challenges and trying to change the destiny for young people who want to get into the creative sector.

It’s all gone pretty well, ending the year with five awards, including The Herald Digital Agency of the Year, and the successful launch of a national campaign for Creative & Cultural Skills, backed by Nick Clegg, to create 6,500 opportunities in the creative sector in just 1,000 days.

Any changes this year in technology, legislation, the economy, etc that have had a relatively significant impact on the business?

The big changes for us are always tech-based. This year was no different. It was really about the rise and rise of mobile as the default browsing platform. We were pioneers in mobile-responsive web design and, this year, have successfully made this principle a fundamental part of everything we do.

The continuing impact of social media has entirely changed how brands interact with their audience online – even Google search now ranks the social impact of your content above the number of pages on your site.

For brands, this means they have to talk to their consumers in a more joined-up and honest way than ever before. Part of our growth this year has been to add dedicated brand strategy to our already integrated approach. The result has been hugely effective multi-channel projects for clients like AXA, SSE, The Macallan, Tesco Bank and Malmaison.

What looking forward to, in 2014 – personally and professionally?

We’re on the verge of the next chapter in the digital revolution – from virtual things to real, connected things. The rise of mobile, which offers a condensed but generic portal into the digital world, will be followed by a constellation of connected devices, powered by discrete bits of digital data, which add value to our physical lives in the same way that apps do to our digital one.

The digital revolution has been powered by the ability to innovate virtual products really fast. This tipping point is happening now, thanks to services like Kickstarter and products like Makerbot and Arduino removing innovation inertia in the material world.

For the last 14 years, we have been making digital things for brands. I’m really inspired about the potential that for the next 14 we may be transforming businesses by building real things that integrate with their digital ecosystems to offer even more valuable services to their customers.

So, without doubt, 2014 is going to be a really exciting year for me and for Equator.

With big challenges ahead; changes in technology, new clients and the desire to continue building an amazing company to work for, I’ve got my work cut out.

One thing’s for sure, I am accompanied by the most passionate, the smartest and the most inspiring team I could wish for.

Together with them, overcoming these challenges is going to be a blast.