On 28 March 2011, Activation took flight.
6 weeks in, still working at the dining room table, our first pitch arrived – Coca Cola, and they called us.
And then they gave us a big reality check. They couldn’t work with us as we had no ‘current experience’ (true!) – our last 15 years counted for nothing. After 6 weeks, we thought we were doomed.
We turned to partnerships and friendships to help us build quick capability for the agency, and we were fortunate that a few good friends recognised our expertise and came through with briefs for us. And then, we were off!
What a rollercoaster. Through the ups and downs, every day has felt like a start up – it still does. The game has continually shifted, and continues to do so, perhaps even faster now than when we started.
We’ve followed the trends where we could, the growth of social, the growing effectiveness of digital advertising, the changes in how consumers engage with brands online and in stores. We have learnt many new skills, but always used these to continuously develop and build on our founding principles. And we have always shown our value through results.
More recently, we felt the market changing – we felt digital marketing was losing its exclusivity – so many agencies could now ‘do digital’. We also realised that, in our FMCG world, digital really is only one part of the journey.
This led us to create the proposition we have today, which feels so right for our times; a ‘digitally-centred’ agency, that works across the shopper journey, from the media channel to the shelf, specialising exclusively in FMCG.
What has kept us going?
Inevitably, there have been big highs and big lows, boozy nights and sleepless nights, and some pretty big personal challenges along the way.
We owe a lot to every brilliant person who has been part of our team, creating our unique personality, and (worryingly) our unique sense of humour, too. But, the support and commitment of our team has made the agency what it is.
Fundamentally, though, our drive comes from our belief that we’re always striving to do the right thing for our clients, and that what we do brings success to the people we do it for. And we plan to continue doing this for years to come.
We’d like to give a huge thank you to all the many clients and brands that have been part of our journey….
Nestlé, Ocean Spray, KP Snacks, Young’s Seafood, Grant’s Whisky, Branston, Spontex, Sarson’s, Koko, Golden Wonder, Burts, Sacla, McCoy’s, Bloo, Pieminister, Russian Standard, Zubrowka, Bahlsen, Herta, Movenpick ice cream, Nescafé, Maggi, Deliciously Ella, Walkers Shortbread, Fruit Bowl, Mentos, Peter’s Yard, Nestlé Cereals, St Austell Brewery, Gressingham Duck, Grab It, Slim Fast, Swizzels, Munch Bunch and many more.
Reflecting on 10 years on, what have we learnt
Success comes in many forms. Chase the work not the money – and all that glitters is not gold. So, stick to your path and know when to say no – as someone once said to me, if there’s any doubt, then there’s no doubt.
Being bigger isn’t necessarily better, and being a specialist brings advantages. In our particular space, this helps us punch above our weight.
Work hard and be good to good people, and build a network of talented and collaborative people – clients and partners – you might need them one day.