In My Opinion: Mark Gorman: Another sad day in adland

AS news filters out that Newhaven Communications has been snapped up by The Leith Agency, I’m given another chance to reflect on the dwindling fortunes of advertising in Scotland.

In the Scottish Government’s recent Marketing Services Framework Review, Newhaven lost its prominent place on the roster (but not without a big fight) and this was to prove fatal for the long-term prospects of the agency, pound for pound one of the most creative agencies to have graced the Scottish advertising scene.

Founded only ten years ago, in January 2003, from the off Newhaven seemed to have been blessed. By securing Tennent’s Lager as its anchor client from day one this gave Jonathan Shinton and his team an unique opportunity to build a business in a different sort of way.

Their first brilliant move was to buy their premises in Montgomery Street in Leith – a huge ex-print plant with its very own Ambulance Depot. This was to prove a masterstroke as it allowed the agency to run on spectacularly low overheads and invite in a creative community to work around them. Indeed, the Old Ambulance Depot has become something of a star in the art world itself, gradually transmogrifying, as it has, into a popular art gallery.

Over the next ten years, Newhaven became both establishment (Scottish Government, Tennent’s and ScottishPower were its core clients) and enfent terrible; often outspoken and certainly never short of opinion.

But it’s the super-cool creative culture that I will remember them most fondly for. As hosts to many charity events for our industry charity, NABS, they’ve been at the very core of great offbeat nights, time and again.

That off-kilter attitude has permeated into their work and Newhaven has been a regular at the top of the Scottish creativity leaderboard.

And so, as two geographic neighbours (Leith and Newhaven border each other) merge, what was at one time a hugely over-populated agency scene, with way too much competition, is looking somewhat sparser these days.

The Leith Agency has shown itself to be the great survivor, thriving as it does on a diet of big Scottish iconic brands – once again, IRN-BRU and Tennent’s Lager are to be bedfellows.

Leith is a great agency; I should know I worked there for six years. And nobody will grudge them this move, least of all the Newhaven team who will be able to continue their great work in a certain financial future. Nonetheless, to anyone that really cares about advertising in Scotland, it’s a Marley and Me moment.

Mark Gorman is an independent marketing consultant operating under the banner, ‘Think Hard’. He has over 25 years of experience in advertising, design, direct marketing, PR, professional writing (especially blogging), business mentoring, digital marketing and research. He was co-founder of the former advertising agency, 1576.