25 Years at Designate – Man and Boyo
Unbelievably, it’s our 25th anniversary this year and we’re going to celebrate in true Designate style.
But before we tell you about our massive birthday bash and how you can come to that, here’s Designate’s founder, Adam Hill, to tell you about the company’s journey from his mate’s lounge to our offices in Brighton’s North Laine…
“My first visit to Brighton was in 1993 and involved me waking up in a beach hut after a house warming party with my mate Ian. After we went down the beach with a bottle of Jack Daniels. All I can remember is that my shirt matched the pattern of a deckchair. I fell in love with Brighton that day.
“I jacked my job in and set up Designate with £300. It was a choice between creativity and music – the two things I had a passion for. I bought a second-hand Mac and, alongside creative Terry Pottle, we created Designate from his front room.
“Only it wasn’t Designate. It was Design8. That came from listening to Altern8 in The Zap Club.
“Our rationale was always to just get out there, be as out there as possible. There was no business plan or mission statement. It wasn’t about money, it was just about being creative. And being risky.
“Our big break came when a letter arrived from British Airways. It was from CityFlyer Express, a franchise. But I ignored it for three days as I thought it was a wind-up.
“They only did radio ads, but we felt press and DM was the way forward. We put our creative in Terry’s Capri and drove up to Gatwick. We went on to win it. We found out later that our competitors had arrived in a Mercedes, another in a Porsche. They chose us because we arrived in a Capri.
“BA stayed with us for seven years and our stock was rising.
“I sat next to someone from Seeboard at a function and they’d never heard of us. It was a Thursday and we blagged an opportunity to pitch the following Monday. We worked all weekend and got the client. It was exciting.
“One guy from Saatchis once told me that when he saw our name on a pitch list, he told his colleagues not to bother.
“We did every single brochure for Virgin Holidays for seven years. Those guys worked really hard. We had unique staff. If you had a meeting with this person for two hours, would you want to go to the pub with them afterwards? If the answer was no, they didn’t get the job. It worked.
“We have had a lot of long-term relationships with clients and that’s because we’re a creative – and strategic – agency.
“Around our tenth birthday we made a move to being a travel specialist. This made a lot of sense as it coincided with the arrival of Jason Triandafyllou from Senior King. We had Mark Warner, P&O Ferries, Kent Tourism, Red Funnel, Transavia, Maersk Air, GB Airways, Kuoni, to name, but a few on our roster at the time.
“We stood by our love of brand. The world is three dimensional but I believe there’s a fourth dimension in brands. The connection between the brand and you (a person) – by advertising.
“We went on to win an IPA Award for LV=. Mims and Dan did a great job with that. We think differently. We turned insurance on its head with them. We said it’s not about when disaster strikes, it’s about insuring what you love in life. That’s how we think.
We’re passionate about what we do. I don’t want work to leave the building unless it’s fucking good. I think that’s why Designate became successful.
“I hope Designate goes on for ever. I haven’t sold it because it’s my baby. As much as it’s a cliché, Designate is a family. There are people all over the world who have worked for us, and I’m immensely proud of that. Hopefully, some will make our party.”
And now the Designate party. It’s going to be big.
To mark such an auspicious occasion as a quarter-of-a-century in business, we’re hosting a big old knees-up. Headlining the party are Welsh megastars, Goldie Lookin’ Chain, with 1BTN DJs throughout the day.
There will also be magicians, a cocktail bar – in an old VW van – outdoor catering from our favourite local restaurant, and obviously, a lorry load of booze.
Demand will be high, so for your chance to attend the party to end all parties, simply email email@example.com with ‘Designate is 25 – you knows it’ in the subject line to register your interest.
We’ll be sending out invites soon.
See you in the car park.
PS: Why GLC? Adam is Welsh!