Back to the 80s with Baillie Marshall

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Following on from our This Much We Know event which looked retrospectively at Dundee’s creative past, Jim Marshall and Chic Harper of former communications agency, Baillie Marshall have sent on some more information about how they landed one of their biggest clients, TSB. Here’s how it all happened…

“One of the stipulations in the brief, was that the winning agency had to have an office in Edinburgh. We didn’t, but our Dundee landlord did and they were willing to rent us the storeroom in their George Street premises. On the Sunday before the Monday pitch we were laying carpets and installing furniture in this storeroom.

The brief was aimed at encouraging teenagers to re-appraise the bank. OUR own views of TSB was not good. How do you tell a client that their image is tired and pedestrian? We decided to let the target audience do that for us, so we got out on the streets of the four Scottish cities and filmed teenagers answering the question “What do you think of the TSB?” The answers surprised us. While we did get a lot of negative comment, we also found a broad opinion that “Well they used to be bad, but they are trying”. This was partly due to a TV campaign that had been produced by their London agency, J Walter Thompson, which was establishing TSB as “The Bank that likes to say YES”.  In a specific advert highlighting the amalgamation of the regional banks into one, they’d produced a commercial, featuring young staff and modern equipment/premises, the bank explained that “Other banks will tell you about their past, we’d like to tell you about the bank of the future – TSB – Tomorrow’s Scottish Bank”.

One of the first things that Chic and Jim Grieg, our creative directors, realised, was that they themselves were too old for this brief. The youngest member of the creative team was a technician called John Ray, so he was tasked with coming up with an answer. Enlisting the help of a young art college friend, Alan Linn, the pair of them came up with some graphic images on posters and press ads, (that I thought were strange). However, Jim and Chic turned them into an “Altered Image” campaign, bringing in Claire Grogan and the band Altered Images to produce a jingle/record “Move on Up”. We recorded the jingle in our basement, where we’d recently set up a studio – eventually to become Inner City Sound – with the help of Alan McGlone and Donnie Coutts.

So we had our “office”, we’d researched the teenage market to find out the size of our task and we now had the campaign. But we were one of six pitching agencies, with little or no track record, pitching for a piece of business that would triple our annual turnover. How could we gain credibility? What we did was re-film JWT’s launch commercial, replacing images of the bank’s staff, technology and premises, with ours. “Other agencies will tell you about their past, we’d like to tell you about the agency of the future…and we’d like to hear the word you like to say – YES.”

We’d never before, or since, had a round of applause from a client, but we did that day. It was then that Peter got up and said “Thank you, but gentlemen, if you like the campaign that we are about to present to you, don’t hire us.” His point being, it was teenagers that were the target, not them. Something that appealed to them, would not work for their sons and daughters.

There’s nothing in the world like it, when you are told you’ve won an account, after all the long hours, heartache and effort, particularly when it’s worth over £1m.”