Interviews

Jenny Biggam

Founder of the7stars

Creativebrief

Share


 

Career to date:

2005 - the7stars (Founder)
1995 - Carat (Director)
1988 - ZenithOptimedia (TV Buyer)

 

Creativebrief: As partner of the7stars what is your primary focus?

Jenny Biggam: Mark Jarvis and I set up the7stars at a time when independent agencies were seen to be on the way out. Our goal has always been to provide a better service for both clients and advertisers by creating the best ideas, deals and work mentality. We wanted to create a nice place to work, where our staff are invested in and leadership is totally transparent. This still rings true today and our near to a decade of experience means we’ve honed that vision and built something we’re really proud of. We are now the largest of our kind in the UK within a fiercely competitive environment.

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

Jenny Biggam: My most notable career milestones (asides from the7stars) are the years I spent at ZenithOptimedia and Carat. I was at Carat for 10 years, leaving my role as Director in 2005 to set up the7stars. Being part of the world’s first media independent was very exciting. The media network was colossal. But breaking free from that and starting the7stars was a very liberating experience.

Creativebrief: What’s unique about your agency / business? Why did you found the7stars?

Jenny Biggam: It’s our work ethos that sets us apart. I have always found that hierarchies have a negative impact on work relationships and often suppress open communication. At the7stars, we have a flat structure and even decided against job titles to encourage people not to be restricted. This has hugely positive implications for our clients. The team are all very passionate and excited about improving themselves and seeking out new opportunities rather than feeling repressed. They have the full force of the company behind them. Our culture of transparency and trust, as well as being free from the big networks, means we have a totally unbiased point of view and clients can feel secure their money is being well spent.

"We wanted to create a nice place to work where staff are invested in and leadership is totally transparent"

 

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

Jenny Biggam: Our staff are all very passionate about their line of work and a lot of stuff gets shared internally. It’s important to stay abreast of trade press. We’re also very fortunate to have built some great relationships within the industry.

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

Jenny Biggam: The way people view media is experiencing an enormous revolution and we’re constantly reviewing how advertising is consumed. On demand and apps like Netflix are completely changing traditional TV viewing, while SkyAdSmart is leading the way with targeted technology. Programmatic advertising is becoming more sophisticated so there will be some shifts towards automation. We’re a society that is becoming increasingly digitised, inseparable from our portable devices. But people are important. We deal with people, and understand their needs, which a machine just can’t do to the same standard and with the same intuition.

Netflix.com
 

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

Jenny Biggam: I’m constantly impressed by the graduates we recruit here. We deliberately make it bloody hard to get a job at the agency, with a filtering process that only a few get through. But once people start they are given lots of autonomy and responsibility straight away and they never fail to step up to the challenges we throw at them.

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

Jenny Biggam: It’s difficult to say. We make a point of getting the whole company together every week to talk about the work we are doing for our clients. I want our people to see our campaigns when they are out and about and to feel proud of all the work we do. It’s easy to work in an agency and have no clue about the clients and campaigns that you don’t personally work on. So in the last year we have run campaigns that include live performance TV ads (most recently for Ed Sheeran) through to product placements (The Only Way is Essex for Ministry of Sound) and we were the first ever agency to cover wrap The Sun for Suzuki.

cover wrap, The Sun for Suzuki. Suzuki.com
 

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

Jenny Biggam: Everyone is a bit jealous of the Lego Movie campaign.

Creativebrief: Who or what inspires you?​​​

Jenny Biggam: I think my inspiration comes from three places. I attend as many industry events, presentations and conferences as I can as I think it’s critical to be aware of what’s going on around you. The team provides me with inspiration, energy and a lot of pride, although equally they drive me mad as they are rightfully all very demanding. And finally it’s about having brave clients. Every decent agency is capable of coming up with the ideas and innovations, but you need clients with the vision and the balls to bring the ideas to life.

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

Jenny Biggam: I think the most interesting developments from outside the UK aren’t agency-driven but technology-driven. The influential stuff we are seeing (particularly from the States) includes new and more engaging ad formats and new targeting technologies.

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

 

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

Jenny Biggam: I think that consumer behaviour is changing faster than ever and as an industry, media agencies need to get a move on.  Increasing audience fragmentation across different channels and devices is driving a need for change. Agencies now have the ability to deliver and evaluate campaigns in real time, and yet so many agencies are wedded to two or three year long deals with major media owners, advance booking deadlines and volume trading. In the future, flexibility and speed will deliver better returns for advertisers than long term volume commitments. 

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

Jenny Biggam: No.  We love pitching. It’s time-consuming, intellectually challenging, highly pressured and constantly demanding. Equally it’s a great way to ensure that the agency remains competitive. It’s brilliant fun and critically, it can only happen when you have fantastic teamwork.

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

Jenny Biggam: The truth about pitching is we look back fondly on the ones we have won and our toes curl thinking about the ones that got away. The reality is, the best pitch doesn’t always win. Sometimes the best pitch comes second, or even last. 

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

Jenny Biggam: One word, TRANSPARENCY. Agencies need to remember what their fundamental role is – to offer honest, impartial advice to advertisers about their media investments. It’s a privileged position to be in, but sadly a privilege that is often abused.

Creativebrief: What’s the next big thing for the7stars?

Jenny Biggam: Wouldn’t you like to know…