Surviving? Thriving.

John F Kennedy famously said that ‘crisis is composed of two characters, one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.’ Tim Lloyd, Managing Director, started 2020 in a café with Ian Henderson, CEO, discussing the plans for the upcoming year. Ian suggested it was a good time to tweak our proposition from ‘Simple ideas for complicated businesses’ to ‘Simple ideas for a complicated world’ as this better represented what we do. Little did we realise just how complicated the world was about to get.

Now – exactly a year after we switched our desks, for kitchen tables – I wanted to reflect on how we have managed to come back stronger. When 2020 first began, we had plenty to look forward to; a move into our new offices at the Tea Building, a new TV campaign for Vanguard and new joiners, including a new Finance Director. We were investing in the growth of the agency and whilst we knew the cost base was a challenge, the opportunity was enormous. Sadly, a global pandemic had other ideas. Three days after we moved into Tea, we were sending people home to work remotely. Almost overnight WFH went from a suspicious raised-eyebrow, to the unquestionable new normal.

Of course, a global crisis brought a real sense of danger. It was a scary time and no one knew how it was going to play out. The world had suddenly got more complicated on a level not seen since WW2. Before we all headed home, we gathered round the boardroom white board and worked on three abiding principles. They were: keep the team healthy and safe, keep the business going, and keep delivering great work for our clients. I am convinced that having those three simple pledges helped shift the focus from impending risk, to a sense of opportunity.

We knew that upholding the agency culture was key to our survival, and in turn our success. Talking and sharing ideas has always been at the heart of the AML culture, and that had to be maintained. So we started having a daily huddle at 9am, and have continued it every day since. Sheena our new FD went through our costs forensically, making sure that everything was justified and controlled. Just one month after she joined the agency, she managed to cut 10% of our outgoings, without anyone leaving or being furloughed. In fact, we actually recruited new creatives and account handlers. Client contact was ramped up, new business opportunities exploited and just three days after the big move home, we hosted our first Zoom pitch.

Attitude is key to success, and fortunately, we were all determined to make the most of every opportunity. As we look back to all that’s been achieved since 18th March 2020, I am proud to say that we have a better team of people. We have won awards. We have had our best ever quarter in the new financial year. And perhaps, most importantly, we spotted the dangers and maximised the opportunities.