David Reviews

 It's the work, stupid.

ODDS ON SUCCESS.
16 November 2018

The changing advertising industry landscape offers many challenges, and that's proving difficult for a number of companies struggling to adapt. It also provides an opportunity for a new, agile approach and some very interesting companies have edged into the space which was once the exclusive domain of the big agency brands.

ODD is one such company, and although they're new to us, they've been around a while. Their low profile is partly down to the background of co-founders Nick Stickland and Simon Glover who were an architect and an industrial designer before they came up with the crazy idea of starting a creative agency. Their outsider status has been a fillip in terms of business, less so when it comes to self-publicity.

DAVID went to meet the two recently at the N1 headquarters they've since abandoned in favour of offices in the newly-fashionable creative hub forming in Southwark, and talked to them about their company and their approach.

Stickland and Glover formed their business partnership out of a tremendous friendship. The former describing the latter as "Godfather to my first daughter, best man, business partner, all eggs in one basket." Advertising is littered with the corpses of relationships which have been unable to bear this kind of strain but it's been the bedrock of ODD's success and Stickland reveals that "we very rarely argue," before adding, by way of explanation that "they're very different characters."


By the time you reached the ground floor you realised, Jesus Christ, there is a world out there beyond what you'd been studying for the last five years, and it's creativity.

 ”

Stickland is thrown by the teasing suggestion that their differences are evident and more so by the observation that Glover is "the nice one".

Although it was a flippant remark, it does encapsulate their dynamic and goes some way to explaining their success. Glover's measured demeanour dilutes Stickland's candid instincts, and a powerful mode of self-expression is unleashed, something that undoubtedly serves them well when pitching their services to potential new clients.


Their decision to abandon architecture and design in favour of advertising came not as 'a road to Damascus moment' as a staircase to it:

"At the Royal College, the architecture school was at the very top of the school, and as you'd come down through the building you'd pass fashion, ceramics, automotive design, furniture, photography. By the time you reached the ground floor you realised, Jesus Christ, there is a world out there beyond what you'd been studying for the last five years, and it's creativity."

After serving an apprenticeship of sorts at Naked Communications which they describe as 'immensely valuable': "We went to the school of Naked, rather than any sort of advertising school. It was at a time when they were exploding, in a good way. We learned a hell of a lot from them."



One of the many things they learned was how companies operating in the advertising landscape are put in distinct boxes and it's difficult to transition towards a different offer. It was something they confronted once they'd started ODD: "At the beginning we were pigeon-holed as a design set up, and we worked quite hard to shed that... [because] we weren't attracting the bigger briefs that had bigger budgets."


It does feel as though the industry, as a whole, is doing that to try and survive. It is saying, 'we can do that too' because, if they don't, someone else will.

 ”

Do they feel they've benefited from the way the landscape has opened up: "It's cyclical. There have been phases when it's been frowned upon and clients prefer specialists to the whole jack-of-all-trades thing.

"But our business has always tried to do that, and there have certainly been periods in our history where that has been a problem for us, but the most successful relationships we have with clients are where we do wear that kind of broad hat. And of course there'll still be specialist companies and partners that come in to do particular bits."


It's striking how much of ODD's ethos appears attached to this sense of otherness. There is no lack of ambition here but it isn't ambition framed around the idea that advertising awards are a useful metric of success... an almost heretical attitude within an industry addicted to rewarding itself with gongs.


There have been lots of disadvantages to not having our heads above the parapet... one of the advantages is that we haven't been affected by falling in and out of favour like a lot of the big name agencies.

 ”

They are admiring of traditional agencies but certainly not in awe of them. They have largely been content to maintain a lower profile than a lot of other companies but, of course, they wouldn't mind a little more recognition. But they know it can come at a price: "There have been lots of disadvantages to not having our heads above the parapet... but one of the advantages is that we haven't been affected by falling in and out of favour like a lot of the big name agencies."



The term jack-of-all-trades is normally used a pejorative, not least because the idiom is completed by the words "master of none". It doesn't really apply to ODD because they do have a specialisation: retail.

And it's a huge challenge to help retail clients navigate a landscape that's changing exponentially faster than anything advertising has had to face.


It's cyclical. There have been phases when it's been frowned upon and clients prefer specialists to the whole jack-of-all-trades thing.

 ”

For example, they have worked extensively with Dr Martens over the past decade, helping to create an unlikely fashion mainstay.

On this account, their background in architecture and design enabled them to take a really holistic view of what's required. They're not oblivious to the notion that video - usually in the form of TV commercials - is still the most glamorous component of the marketing mix but they're equally alive to the importance of experiential, POS (point of sale) and so on. It's this deep knowledge of their client's day-to-day concerns which has enabled them to build a business which now has an offices in New York and Sydney, as well as a substantial London presence.



Rather than shifting their proposition to compete with the better-known advertising brands, Stickland and Glover feel they've witnessed quite the reverse - a broadening of the offer from some traditional agencies: "It does feel as though the industry, as a whole, is doing that to try and survive. It is saying, 'we can do that too' because, if they don't, someone else will."

And that 'someone' might very well be ODD. The two founders are decidedly unshowy compared with many in the advertising business, but their sobriety feels very much 'of the moment'. And while others may yearn for the good old days of long lunches and expenses-fuelled excess in the South of France, the companies of the future are quietly carving their own niche...while creating a sense that they have a much better grasp of what's coming next.

To discover more about ODD, talk to Hope Abel on 07966 286287 or email her at hope.abel@oddlondon.com.

News

JOE WALTON JOINS WHITEHOUSE POST

Whitehouse Post have bolstered their London roster with the signing of editor Joe Walton.


FIONA MCGEE LANDS AT BOLD.

BOLD’s global talent search has led to Australian director Fiona McGee joining their compelling roster.


LUZIAN SCHLATTER JOINS MAD COW FILMS.

Swiss director Luzian Schlatter has joined the fold at Mad Cow Films for commercial representation.


CRAFTWORKS AT BAFTA 195 ON JUNE 10TH.

We're doing another CraftWorks at BAFTA and it's going to be extremely good.


76 LTD SIGN OLIVIER VENTURINI.

Beauty director and amateur pastry chef Olivier Venturini has given 76 Ltd plenty to smile about as he joins their bespoke roster for representation.


AD BREAK - GOGGLEBOX 17TH MAY

In the first of a new series, DAVID takes a look at an entire ad break to comment on some TVCs in context.


THE FRIDMAN SISTERS ARRIVE AT YOU ARE HERE

You Are Here have signed Brazilian directing duo The Fridman Sisters for representation.


DIEGO NUÑEZ IRIGOYEN SIGNS FOR KNUCKLEHEAD.

Acclaimed comedy director Diego Nuñez Irigoyen has joined the roster at Knucklehead.


LAUREN PRINGLE ROCKS UP AT FAMILIA.

Well-travelled director Lauren Pringle is pleased to join Familia's equally worldly roster for representation.


CESAR EIJI NUNES IS THE NEW HEAD OF CGI AT GPS.

In a sentence that sounds like it might have come out of 'Line of Duty' Cesar Eiji Nunes is the new head of CGI at GPS.


YOUNGSTER HIRE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER IAN HARLAND.

Youngster hire executive producer Ian Harland.


MICHAEL FUETER ALIGNS WITH HUNKYDORY

Swiss director Michael Fueter is the latest addition to HunkyDory's thriving TVC roster.


CREATURE'S MOVE TO MOBILISE YOUNG VOTERS.

Ad agency Creature were approached by campaigning group Vote For Your Future to help them encourage young people to register ahead of the European elections.


LIZ MURPHY ENTERS THE SWEETSHOP

Director Liz Murphy has joined the roster at The Sweetshop.


ENTER KIKU OHE AT STINK LONDON.

Stink are pleased to announce the signing of director Kiku Ohe for UK representation.


HOMESPUN YARNS 2019

There's still time to enter this year's Homespun Yarns competition.


UNIT CROSS OXFORD STREET TO OPEN NEW STUDIO.

Post production company UNIT have crossed Oxford Street to take possession of their fabulous new studio.


FELIX JOINS KODE

Kode Media have signed enigmatic artistic talent Felix to their roster for representation.


EL COLONY SIGN CHRIS RUDZ

El Colony have signed award-winning director and cinematographer Chris Rudz to their roster.


KATH SAWSZAK-PIERCE JOINS MISSING LINK.

After nearly two decades at Marshall Street Editors, the extremely well-connected Kath Sawszak-Pierce has joined Missing Link.


THE MIGHTY DANIEL DEWSBURY.

Director Daniel Dewsbury - who recently joined the roster at 2AM Films - is a rising star of the documentary world with a whole-hearted commitment to capturing honest accounts of people's lives.


MINDSEYE SWOOP FOR DUGAN O'NEAL.

MindsEye have described the arrival of director Dugan O'Neal as "a match made in comedy heaven".


FRED SCOTT JOINS SWEET MEDIA.

Dublin-based Sweet Media are pleased to welcome Fred Scott to their commercials roster.


RIFF RAFF WRANGLE ED MORRIS.

Riff Raff Films and their founder Matthew Fone are delighted to add director Ed Morris to their ranks.


LUCY BRIDGER ARRIVES AT AGILE.

Agile Films are pleased to announce the signing of director Lucy Bridger to their roster.


News

David Reviews - Lovely Lenzie Ltd, Woodbourne House, Seven Sisters, Lenzie, G66 3AW. Telephone: +44 141 776 7766. Editor: Jason Stone.