Interviews

Dan Glover, Creative Director, The Academy

“You can't please all people all the time, but brands with a social conscious can only be the way forward."

Izzy Ashton

Assistant Editor, BITE

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Dan Glover - The Academy

Career to date:

2014, Co-Founder & Creative Director, The Academy
2013, ECD & Chairman, Mischief PR (Engine)
2006, Creative Director, Mischief PR
2006, Creative, Cow Africa
2003, Graduate Account Manager, Cow PR

Creativebrief: Please could you outline your career to date, talking us through anything of particular interest or that you’d like to highlight?

Dan Glover: I left university wanting to be a journalist writing stories, but soon found out that there was an entire industry that came up with the stories for journalists to write about. My PR career started at Cow generating news headlines for Tesco, Yahoo! and The Duke of Edinburgh, as if he needed help, amongst others. From Cow, I was sent to South Africa to help set up Cow Africa where I had an epiphany moment and realised the power of media-neutral, interesting ideas, which were able to get noticed, solve business problems and pass into popular culture. My heart, a woman I’ve gone on to marry, brought me back to London and knocking on the door of a London start-up called Mischief where we proceeded to generate branded conversations everywhere and became the most awarded creative PR agency in the country. We eventually sold Mischief to Engine and after a couple of years spent integrating the agency into the wider group, CEO Mitch Kaye and I decided to leave and set up The Academy with founding clients UEFA and The Sun. Four years later we’re 45-strong, award-winning and looking after household names including Amazon, Domino’s and WWE.

Creativebrief: As Creative Director at the Academy, what is your primary focus?

Dan Glover: Listening to clients, working out what best to communicate, and then creating ways to relay the right information to their [the client’s] publics in the most efficient and effective ways possible.

The PR industry is going through an interesting time. There are lots of smaller creative shops offering clients a menu of ideas, but with little concern for business impact. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, big, serious network agencies that offer reams of data and analysis  but have no creative firepower to bring their thinking to life."

Creativebrief: What's unique about your agency? What led you to co-found the Academy?

Dan Glover: The PR industry is going through an interesting time. There are lots of smaller creative shops offering clients a menu of ideas, but with little concern for business impact. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, big, serious network agencies that offer reams of data and analysis but have no creative firepower to bring their thinking to life. We set up The Academy to give clients Intelligent Thinking and Applied Creativity, strategy and creativity, the right and left sides of the brain, to produce and deliver work that works, which seems to be a pretty rare, but compelling, offering that, well, works.

Alton Towers, Wicker Man by The Academy
Alton Towers, Wicker Man by The Academy

Creativebrief: What has been your agency's best work in the last year?

Dan Glover: I'm proud of everything that's left the building this year, but I think our work for Alton Towers Resorts and launching the Wicker Man rollercoaster, its first rollercoaster since The Smiler incident, has been a highlight because it epitomises where The Academy is at. A challenging brief, a very strategic solution, a strong, but simple, creative idea, and the internal discipline to stick with it, quality production of multiple assets from events to TV shows to merchandise, reams of PR coverage, and most importantly, genuine business impact. It may not win many creative awards, but it is work that has definitely worked and is therefore 'on brand' for The Academy.

Creativebrief: Industry wide, what work has excited you most this year?

Dan Glover: Honestly, and without wanting to come across pompous, not much. I admire Taylor Herring's Spin Cycle as it demonstrated how a PR agency can get the country talking about anything, a SAMSUNG washing machine in this case, and how that conversation can convert into business impact. But, and I'm unashamed in saying this, I think the most exciting and effective work is coming from The Academy HQ.

You can't please all people all the time, but brands with a social conscious can only be the way forward."

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

Dan Glover: It's fascinating to see how big US companies like Nike and Weight Watchers re-realise that their brand is their business and that standing for, or with, something sharpens the focus and shapes the communication. You can't please all people all the time, but brands with a social conscious can only be the way forward. 

Creativebrief: How do you see the advertising industry evolving over the next two to five years?

Dan Glover: I think communication and marketing silos will continue to break down and the best thinking and creative ideas will win out. It’s a trend that will favour smart PR agencies, although I would say that, wouldn't I.

Mickey Mouse at 90 by The Academy
Mickey Mouse at 90 by The Academy

Creativebrief: What are your ambitions for The Academy over the next two to five years?

Dan Glover: Continuing to help grow our clients' businesses and continuing to grow our business.

Creativebrief: Personally, who or what are you inspired by, outside of the industry?

Dan Glover: Increasingly I'm inspired by anyone who has, or is, making things happen and moving the world forward. I consider myself very lucky to be surrounded by people, from colleagues to clients to a wonderful wife and amazing kids, who want to get up early, seize the day, JFDI and make an impact.

Topic of the moment

Customers want to know more about the social, economic and environmental impact of brands. How do you evaluate each of these in the brands you choose to work with? 

We have a very simple rule. If we don’t want our spouses or children to buy it, we don’t promote it!