Interviews

Mark Boyd

Founder of Gravity Road

Creativebrief

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Career to date:

2011 - Gravity Road (Founder)
2009 - BBH (Management Team)
2007 - BBH (Head of Content and Creative Director)
2007 - Drum PHD (Business Director)
2004 - BBH (Head of Content)
2004 - Virgin Radio (Executive)
2003 - Lord Chancellor’s Department (Researcher)
2002 - Hutchison Whampoa (Head of Young Adult markets)

 

 

Creativebrief: As founder of Gravity Road what is your primary focus?

Mark Boyd: Creating things people want to share. 

By doing this, we build audiences for our clients. 

We achieve this by working with the best people.

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

Mark Boyd: My background is best described as eclectic, but all leads to this point. I’ve worked client, agency and media owner sides. I started at Virgin when it was first getting involved in radio and TV. I worked for the brilliant Tess Alps at Drum PHD, finding new opportunities for brands in TV. I joined Hutchison Whampoa after they won the 3G license to try and make sense of mobile content. I then came back to agencies starting up Stream at TBWA before joining BBH, the finishing school of advertising, as Creative Director and Head of Content, before joining the UK Management Team.

We started Gravity Road on the 4th of July 2011.

Creativebrief: What’s unique about your agency / business? Why did you form Gravity Road?

Mark Boyd: Gravity Road starts in a different place; we’re concerned with audiences rather than customers. We purport to be ‘clever with content’. 

We started Gravity Road as we saw clients were often poorly served by legacy comms businesses trying to re-invent themselves. We come at projects with an editorial sensibility and have a broader range of strategic and creative people to apply to problems.

"Jamie (Oliver) is the smartest man in media and his media empire is built on doing, not talking"

 

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

Mark Boyd: First and foremost it would be the new kinds of people at Gravity Road, including the comedy writers, a consumer magazine editor and our new talent management team.

Outside of Gravity Road it has to be Jamie Oliver. We’ve recently put in place a three year Bacardi partnership to launch Drinks Tube. Jamie is the smartest man in media and his media empire is built on doing, not talking. He is very impressive.

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

Mark Boyd: We are particularly proud of our Huffington Post campaign, which won a Cannes Lion in 2013 and more recently our short film “Room 8” for Bombay Sapphire which won the first Film BAFTA for a brand.

 

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

Mark Boyd: Seeing GoPro emerge as a force in content. I’m amused by the Newcastle Brown Super Bowl film as a cute solution to the nutty problem of rights. I like ITV’s recent output, emerging YouTube creator content and everything Jimmy Fallon does.

Creativebrief: Who or what inspires you?​​​

Mark Boyd: Wow. Big question. This morning, it’s Jimmy Fallon. I’m just watching last night’s show on YouTube.

He took on the biggest challenge in American TV – hosting The Tonight Show. NBC thought the ratings would dive with a new, young host. But its pitch perfect. He has reimagined it for valuable millennial audiences and has singlehandedly pioneered the crossover between TV and social media. It’s TV of the web. He is surfacing trends for social, as well as creating them.

The Tonight show, Jimmy Fallon, tumbler.com
 

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

Mark Boyd: You’ve got to put yourself out amongst it. We talk and share in the office and use industry and cultural newswires such as Twitter, YouTube & Vimeo feeds, like most other people. I also find conversation with interesting people, a very analogue form of communication, to be very reliable.

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

Mark Boyd: There is plenty of interesting agency work, perhaps more interesting is the work done directly by creators and other entertainment businesses. The competition isn’t just other brands, but all content creators.

"Suddenly everyone does everything and talent, agents, media owners and producers are all claiming to be agencies"

 

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

Mark Boyd: Some of it is the same as it ever was.

Agencies need briefs that are connected with real business problems, not those that have been channel planned to such a degree that they allow no room for innovative thinking. There is increased competition as suddenly everyone does everything and talent, agents, media owners and producers are all claiming to be agencies. The key will be to keep or attract the right talent.

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

Mark Boyd: We anticipate lots of shifting dynamics. Producers with ideas will become more important. Talent and new distributors will become pivotal. Media owners will become more vertically integrated.

At a senior level, budgets are being cut as more strategic partnerships are coming into play. Our recent three year deal with Jamie Oliver, or the Sainsbury’s deal with Fleur de Force, are good examples of this. Brands have more to leverage with partners who are more open to collaborating.

We are seeing a much more focused publishing sensibility from clients. There are less campaigns and a longer-term approach to all their content and comms.

Jamie Oliver’s Drinks Tube, gravityroad.com
 

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

Mark Boyd: We’ve been involved in very few pitches. We do worry that pitches don’t always get to the best ideas, let alone the best briefs. We prefer to invest more time with the client upfront and understand the problem. This helps form the right idea for the business, rather than the right idea for the pitch.

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

Mark Boyd: Channel 4 Commissioning for our TV comedy show ‘The Anti Social Network.’ No brands were involved, but Channel 4 thought the idea was funny and gave us the money to make it. On the first day we launched Gravity Road, they put the money in our bank account.

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

Mark Boyd: Encouraging a greater diversity of people coming into the business.

Creativebrief: What’s the next big thing for Gravity Road?

Mark Boyd: Invite us in and we’ll tell you.