24 years on and the opportunities are still exciting

by Martin MacConnol – Apr 23, 2020

Well, happy birthday dear Wardour. Let’s sing the song twice through together while washing our hands….

Back in 1996, April 23 felt like an auspicious day for a creative content agency’s birth: it’s the birthday (and death day) of the king of words, Mr William Shakespeare. On top of that: ‘All hail St George!’

To be fair, it wasn’t the first day we started trading (we celebrate that as well in September), but it was the day when we incorporated the business. And like the Queen we feel it’s good to have two birthdays.

Off the top of my head, I can’t remember much that we’ve done on this particular day over the years. But digging out ancient paper diaries (many of them the old FT desk ones, beautiful things) I can see it was the usual round of agency activities: client meetings, dinners, lunches, travel. Everyday events, that currently feel rare and wonderful.

Perhaps the most memorable one was the year we were travelling to Munich for a pitch. We nearly lost it before even getting to the client’s offices: our then editorial director started to walk out of Munich airport with the wrong trolley bag. If the account director hadn’t stopped her our ‘creative reveal’ would have been some Bavarian laundry.

Today’s celebrations will of necessity be pretty muted. There are only so many gifs the team can share on Teams. But I have to say that below the surface there is an excitement bubbling over.

Sure, the world’s in a mess and the economy royally screwed at the moment. Listening to Radio 4 every morning can be wearying with the emphasis on an endless litany of problems. But there was one interview today that roused the heart – an engineering leader working in a consortium to make ventilators and doing it with a speed and focus that he previously would have been thought impossible. He talked about their learnings in this crisis changing things for the better.

I’m with him. The opposite of threat is opportunity, and in this new world I can see a lot of opportunity for doing things differently and better. Without doubt the way businesses are going to have to market and communicate in the years to come will be seismically changed. New skills and techniques are going to be needed to engage customers, employees and shareholders.

I suspect a lot of hide-bound procurement constrictions that have built up during the last decade are going to be ignored too. ‘Getting things done’ will be the order of the day – and entrepreneurialism has always been close to the heart of Wardour, that’s why we’re still independent after all these years.

So, for me this birthday has distinct echoes of the first. Like then, there is a landscape of possibility and challenge just waiting to be explored and mapped out. Bring it on.

Published Apr 23, 2020

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