Behind every great start-up, there’s a great marketer. Taking a look at the brains behind the brands, we’ve decided to showcase the shining lights forging the future of the industry. Check out our list of the UK’s most hotly tipped mobile maestros and doyennes of digital
Kathryn Parsons, co-founder, Decoded
Whilst her focus is less marketing-orientated than most, there’s few that have contributed quite as much to the digital ecosystem as former Elite Business cover star Kathryn Parsons. Her start-up Decoded, which teaches people to code in a day, is utilised as much by tech giants like Google and Microsoft and creative agencies as it is by the average punter. The winner of the Veuve Clicquot New Generation Award has since replicated the formula in over 30 cities worldwide.
Ben Priest, founding partner and executive creative director, Adam & Eve DDB
There are few who have presided over quite as much exciting creative work as Priest. Having been in the creative industry for 25 years, he worked his way up from copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather before co-founding the multi-award winning Adam & Eve in 2008 with James Murphy, David Golding and Jon Forsyth. In addition to creating spots for SSE, Google and Virgin Atlantic, the agency has also been responsible for John Lewis’s christmas ads for many years, whipping the public into a penguin-fixated fervour over the yuletide period.
Nick Dormon, managing director, Echo Brand Design
Creative / Digital
Echo Brand Design was founded by the man behind the branding of the nation’s favourite hooped potato snack, Hula Hoops. Dormon’s team at Echo helped Carling promote the summery beverage of choice for health-conscious boozers, Carling Zest. Its client base includes Cow and Gate and Cobra and it was shortlisted for two Marketing Design Awards in 2014 for its work with Joe’s Tea Co. Dormon is passionate about the purpose behind products. He sees himself as the ‘dad’ of the company and looks after his creative staff to ensure positive energy brings positive results.
Gail Dudleston, CEO, twentysix
Dudleston’s school nickname, Gale Force 12, precedes her as she hit the digital market like a storm. She was headhunted by CMW to lead the six strong creatives in Leeds, which later merged with London’s digital agency twentysix. Dudleston, who only hires the best talent, is now CEO of 110 employees in offices that span from New York to Singapore. With twentysix now an award winning full-service digital agency turning over £5.7m, she regularly treats all staff with pizza every payday.
Andrew Day, digital creative director, MRM Meteorite
Some people are born with a knack for creativity and Day is one of them. He spent his early days co-founding The Red Room and was the cameraman behind Duran Duran’s ‘Pop Trash’ US tour. MRM Meteorite harbours some of the best talent and snapped Day up as its creative director who holds big names in his little black book, including Shell, Mars and Channel 4. His four-year career with SapientNitro led to him bagging the Cannes Cyber Gold Lion and Eurobest Interactive award after he penned the award-winning Foot Locker ‘Sneakerpedia’ campaign.
Nils Leonard, chairman and chief creative officer, Grey
Under this game-changer’s lead, Grey has seen the agency double in size and saw Grey as the only company in this neck of the woods to scoop up a British Comedy Award. Leonard was the brains behind Lucozade’s Yes campaign; the song held the Number One throne on the UK iTunes chart for four weeks. His recent works include Kiss for Vodafone, which was voted Marketing’s most romantic ad of all time and he melted the hearts of millions with his string of McVittie’s puppy adverts.
Andy Hewitt, co-founder / solve, The Interest Network
Hewitt has been carving firsts into the commercial and tech industry for 15 years, setting new boundaries while others play catch-up. Knowing what works in today’s changing world comes naturally to Hewitt, who co-founded The Interest Network in 2012 to tackle missed opportunities in the market. He creates clarity out of mess and has coined his latest product, Squirrel, the ‘shazam for things.’ Squirrel enables users to use their mobile to capture the products or places seen on their travels to later be recalled at a convenient time.
Gellan Watt, MD and chief creative officer, Thinking Juice
Creative / Digital
The ad game is full of ideas, and nobody loves ideas more than Watt. His motto is to ‘never be ordinary’ and this extraordinary soul is self described as: part adman, part copywriter, part art director set a goal to launch an agency he would be proud of. Thinking Juice was named by RAR as 2014’s Most Effective Agency in the UK. He personally was named number 15 in the UK’s Marketing Power 100 – a feat he attributes to Mum’s votes.
Tarek Nseir, CEO, TH_NK
Another familiar face for regular readers, Nseir is the entrepreneurial engine house behind TH_NK, the digital agency. Under his leadership, the company has created digital strategies for a range of high-profile clients ranging from Audi to Warner Brothers. Last year, its digital experience for Channel 4’s Utopia picked up a whole host of awards, securing a nomination for a BAFTA Television Craft Award and winning both the DADI Award Grand Prix and a BIMA Award.
James Kirkham, global head of social and mobile, Leo Burnett / co-founder, Holler
There’s few people who understand how word spreads better than Kirkham. In 2001, he co-founded Holler, a digital engagement agency designed to get people talking about brands, which was voted Agency of the Year 2014 by BIMA. Its clients include Red Bull, Samsung and Sky. After Holler joined with Leo Burnett, Kirkham was appointed global head of social and mobile in 2013.
Rob Shaw, group CEO, Epiphany
Search / social
Even before taking up the helms of the Leeds and London-based search marketing agency Epiphany, Shaw had quite a few tech notches on his belt. He has managed services for some of the UK’s largest companies, including Tesco, O2 and Pets at Home. At Epiphany, Shaw is responsible for the overall delivery of PPC, SEO and web development, ensuring the company delivers world-class services and results to its clients. Last year was a monumental year for Epiphany, having been acquired by Jaywing for £18m, while working with dozens of new colleagues and extending its relationship with key clients such as Waterstones.
Mills and Sinx, co-founders, ustwo
Digital / Mobile
We’ve got a bit of a twofer with Mills and Sinx – or Matt Miller and John Sinclair – who are such inseparable friends that they named their company ustwo. The digital product start-up is one of the most exciting to spring out of Shoreditch – developing apps and products for a range of clients, including Sony’s Media Apps and the user experience for Tesco Hudl. Mills and Sinx have also led the company into a profitable sideline in mobile gaming, including the much-lauded Monument Valley.
Trine Pillay, managing director / executive producer, B-Reel
There’s few for whom the descriptor creative is quite so apt as B-Reel and Pillay is one of the shining lights of its London operations. Pillay’s background is extensive, having worked not only at Home Corp and Smuggler but also with directors such as Paul Weiland and the Academy Award-winning Anthony Minghella at the Paul Weiland Film Company. Joining B-Reel in 2013, she is part of a similarly stellar company; the creative production house has won more awards than you can shake a stick at.
Nadya Powell, managing director, Lost Boys
Certain people are like the keystone species of the marketing ecosystem; Powell fits into this category. Having cut her teeth at Grey Interactive and done a stint developing social and innovation strategies at Dare, Powell set up the US-based social agency MRY – branded here as Lost Boys. In terms of extra-curricular activity, Powell is a member of Tech London Advocates, a mentor at Wayra and has co-founded Innovation Social, an enterprise bringing together industry innovators from a wide range of agencies and brands. That’s some workload.
Michael Litman, founder, Burst / Brandsonvine
Social / Creative
It’s always a pleasure to be in the presence of a true innovator. Having worked his way up through comms and digital advertising, Litman founded Burst in 2013. The world’s first specialist micro-content agency, Burst uses short-form video nuggets to promote brands like Microsoft, Samsung and Pepsico. Brandsonvine takes this concept further, creating branded six-second spots using Vine; after all, who has a whole 30 seconds to spare?