Interviews

Andrew Stephens

Co-founder of Goodstuff

Creativebrief

Share


Career to date:

1993 Austin West New Business Manager
1994 Saatchi & Saatchi Media Manager
1999 MG OMD Board Director
2004 Goodstuff Co-founder

creativebrief: As Co-founder of Goodstuff what is your primary focus?

Andrew Stephens: Mainly our external profile so new business, marketing and client satisfaction.

creativebrief: Please share a paragraph on your career to date – specifically talking us through the high points.

Andrew Stephens: After leaving university (ok, Poly) I did a year at Austin West Media in new business before being lured away by the bright lights of Saatchi & Saatchi to work on their flagship client, Toyota. Five years later, when Saatchi’s media focus went to Zenith, I left to join MGM as it was then, to run the Virgin Group. Five years after that, Virgin Mobile offered me (and Ben Hayes) the chance of setting up our own agency. We are now 10 years old.

creativebrief: What’s unique about your agency / business? Why did you start Goodstuff?

Andrew Stephens: We’re unique in many ways and that is why we started the agency. We felt clients were restricted in their media agency choice as they were either too big or too small and no one really owned creativity. That’s what we set out to change and is why we are the only agency in the UK to be independent, yet also have minority backing from Omnicom Media Group. All of our Partners have learnt their media trade working in creative agencies.

"Our industry is increasingly full of paper pushing bureaucrats so anyone who bucks this and puts their head up is a friend of mine"

creativebrief: How do you stay in-touch with the industry’s best work and culturally relevant news?

Andrew Stephens: I use Twitter, Campaign, internal sharing sessions and Cannes.

creativebrief: What do you think are going to be the main challenges for agencies in the next two years?

Andrew Stephens: I think agencies are going to find it hard to make a decent margin and to push back against shorter-term contracts.

creativebrief: Who are the people new to you (either within your business or externally) who have particularly impressed you in the last twelve months?​​​

Andrew Stephens: I am torn between Channel 5 and Shortlist Media Group. We work with them both on a number of brands from House of Fraser to Kopparberg and they are both very good on every level.

House of Fraser beauty promotion, goodstuff.co.uk

creativebrief: What has been your agency’s best work in the last year?​​​​​

Andrew Stephens: Two stand out. The first is taking over talkSport for the launch of Vikings on History and rebranding the station talkNorse for the day. The second is a branded magazine Eklectic for Kopparberg with Stylist.

creativebrief: Industry wise, what work has excited you most this year?

Andrew Stephens: Not so much excited but impressed with Zoopla’s consistent domination of the London skylines which they do themselves. Agencies need to watch out.

creativebrief: Who or what inspires you?​​​

Andrew Stephens: People who give a damn and make stuff happen. Our industry is increasingly full of paper pushing bureaucrats so anyone who bucks this and puts their head up is a friend of mine.

Eklectic magazine for Kopparberg, goodstuff.co.uk

creativebrief: What work or agency from outside the UK do you think is particularly influential?​​

Andrew Stephens: Droga5 seem to have touched many of the amazing things outside the UK.

creativebrief: How do you see the media landscape unfolding in the next five years?

Andrew Stephens: I think we will see the first ‘digital buying shed’ open in the M4 corridor but called a Sales Agency, not a Media Agency. By contrast, I hope creative agencies get their act together and sort out their respect and integration of media.

"If the client gets along with the agency, chances are you’ll produce mutually beneficial work which makes everyone happy"

creativebrief: What’s your attitude to the ‘traditional’ pitch? Do you think there is a better / more modern way?

Andrew Stephens: I think the best way is where chemistry is prioritised over everything else. If the client gets along with the agency, chances are you’ll produce mutually beneficial work which makes everyone happy.

creativebrief: What’s the best pitch you’ve been involved in?

Andrew Stephens: I would probably say retaining Virgin Media in 2011. At the time, planning and buying was split between Goodstuff & MG OMD. For the review we came back together to create Fifty6, a joint venture that saw us share office space, change working practices and put the client’s needs ahead of agency egos.

creativebrief: In what ways do you think the industry can change for the better?​

Andrew Stephens: To get all the agencies on the same target and bonus structure which is difficult when clients set opposing targets, metrics and measurement means.

creativebrief: What’s the next big thing for Goodstuff?

Andrew Stephens: Secret…

Topic of the moment

What was your favourite work at Cannes 2014, and why?

The most innovative for me was the FCB New Zealand work for Brothers in Arms. They are a youth charity that used CFO’s bank statements to drive home their fundraising message, a brilliant and bold idea. A few sleepless nights have paid off well.

View video on fcb.com