At The RAWK Agency we are incredibly proud of our team, we all play our part and everybody's input is valued. With that in mind, I recently sat down with our creative director James Gibson to get his thoughts on being part of the team here at The RAWK Agency and find out which campaigns have been catching his eye recently.
Hi Jim, could you tell us a little about your past and what inspired you to become involved in founding The RAWK Agency?
Absolutely. I’ve always had a real drive to create and refine, looking at ways of making the world more efficient and I spent the initial years after university gaining as much experience as I could across a range of sectors. After studying law, picking up a couple of languages and working my way around the world (with a fair share of unique roles along the way) I returned to the UK with a desire to gain some real corporate experience. Joining the technology arm of RBS. I had the opportunity there to gain accreditations and experience in a range of disciplines from business analysis and project management to process efficiency, quality control and risk management… some of these may sound a little dry but they really are the backbone of any large-scale project! I carved out my own niche and spent a lot of my time working on innovation and client management with a growing desire to make a move to working for smaller businesses where they live and die by the success of their changes. After a great few years I moved on from from RBS and commenced a short period working as a freelance business analyst.
I’ve actually known Alex, the other co-founder here at The RAWK Agency, since we were kids and so it was pretty natural that we caught up around this time and I offered to look at what RAWK Music, his company at the time, was doing. After carrying out analysis on the business, we decided to partner up and create a new, end to end service through The RAWK Agency. With the benefit of our combined experience and ideas we were really well positioned to fill a significant niche in the marketplace.
How did you first get involved in the creative industries at large?
Much like the rest of the RAWK team, my roots are firmly in music, having played a range of instruments for almost as long as I can remember - my first paid creative work was definitely musical. I’ve also had a longstanding passion for photography and focused upon architectural and creative lighting in Scotland for a period - a series of projects which led to my consulting for a lighting design company in Edinburgh and refining their business processes… but that’s for another day. My graphic design career started, of all places, within RBS as I looked to inject some new life into presentations and internal websites I was building and has really just grown ever since - I’m always learning new techniques and better ways to convey key messages with impact. The process has really been extremely organic - moving from static imagery to 3D models and immersive video, we are living in a really exciting time where new tools are becoming available each year to help bring bigger and more exciting ideas to life.
In a related vein I love to spend my spare time building - our flat has seen pretty much every conceivable bit of DIY and is, of course, fully 3D modelled so we can refine everything before we start cutting! My girlfriend and I also built a log cabin recently to which we escape from time to time, and it has now become the testbed for new constructions - so far we’ve added a pizza oven and sun deck and I’m just working on getting time to build a bridge and central heating - that will be the next team building outing for RAWK.
What brand campaigns have you been impressed by recently?
I’ve always had a soft spot for anyone with a willingness to put their wares to the test. On that basis, I love the simplicity and visual impact of LG’s recent vacuum cleaner ad (I know, right?), especially as it appeals to my strong inner rock climber and reminds me that there are genuine options for people to overcome monumental challenges with the simplest of items!
Similarly, I love innovations which lead to genuine engagement, so Sancho BBDO’s campaign for Mountain Dew around a bottle top which worked as a skate tool was fantastic, and I’m not at all surprised these were a sellout. Creating a genuine talking point that will last for people, whilst giving them a valid reason to reuse packaging is a massive step in the right direction.
When it comes to creative approach, how does The RAWK Agency ensure the client’s brand potential is maximised whilst ensuring any public facing communications stay true to their core message?
A big part of my background is around efficiency, optimisation and making processes as lean as possible. On that basis it won’t come as a surprise that I think our approach is clean and direct - we invest heavily and primarily in our clients, ensuring we understand all aspects of their history, operations, aspirations and character. With this in hand, the world is quite literally your oyster - we can act as ambassadors, react dynamically and efficiently to any enquiry and can be quite literally substituted in and out for the brand as required.
For us, nothing short of this level of attention will result in an equal standard project delivery - you just can’t understand and care to the same extent that we do if you have glanced at a project brief and come in with a low cost, outsourced solution.
As a creative director, how much production are you undertaking on a daily basis?
We’re a really focused team and it’s important to maintain a working environment where everyone gets visibility of things in flow. As such, I’m on the ground at key activations and heavily involved in the lead in, whether it’s designing and building bars at our workshop, speccing out the lighting and floor plans, or simply working with the ops team to optimise our packing and transportation plans.
There are a lot of great people with fantastic skills across the team and I’m always keen to learn - we tend to eschew terms like “meritocracy” and “hierarchy” and just focus upon making sure we use the best that everyone can bring to the table for each element of every deliverable.
What do you think it is that clients take from their experience working with The RAWK Agency that motivates them to work with us on a regular basis?
Giving our clients the ability to relax is pretty high up that list - our ability to take care of things so they don’t need to is often quoted as being worth its weight in gold. It’s always important to know your customer, and a lot of ours are under a lot of pressure with multiple projects in parallel and constantly changing targets, budgets and deadlines. Our ability to embrace all of this and take full projects with very little in the way of briefing delivers a peace of mind that I honestly think very few people could aim to match. There are few things more satisfying than having your client check in a mere few times over the course of an activation before sending glowing feedback...
What has been your favourite project to work on at The RAWK Agency so far?
It’s been a great year and a half but without a shadow of a doubt it would have to be Dewar’s Hotel, an immersive, multi-city experience focused upon bringing the Dewar’s brand history and future to life for select invitees. There’s already a dedicated blog post about the project so I won’t go into too much detail, but the breadth of skills we had the opportunity to put into practice across the project timeline were incredibly rewarding and really showcased our abilities, whilst the stakeholders were a fantastic group and made the project a lot of fun for everyone involved.
What do you think has been The RAWK Agency’s stand out moment in its first year?
Winning the exclusive contract to deliver trade shows for Bacardi’s malts across Northern Europe was a real highlight and testament to the skills of the team and their expertise. This contract was rooted in our ability to deliver immersive consumer engagement, brand education and seamless logistics to a fixed budget over the course of the year and incorporated a huge range of activity from stock management, storage and transportation through to design and build of various key assets and regular, on the ground, deliveries. We were able to measurably increase the profile of the brand in a number of key cities whilst driving refinements to the overall structure of how these events are delivered and achieved serious cost efficiencies and a uniquely high level of consistent engagement.
Finally, what would you like to see The RAWK Agency Achieve in the next 12 - 18 months?
There are really just two big items on my hit list for the next 12 months. The first is for us to continue in our work to transform the way brands perceive Scotland and its people - there are so many great projects to be had here, and for a fraction of the cost of London, it will be great to see that journey continue. The second is to explore a few other sectors - we have had particular expertise in all things music and alcohol for the past year and a half and it would be really exciting to see a move into some new ground to deploy our skills and creativity there.
Quick Fire Facts
Favourite Album: Roni Size Reprazent - New Forms
Favourite City: Luang Prabang, Laos
Favourite Food: Nasi Goreng
Interests away from work: Running / Biking / Building / Kiting / Golf / All the snowsports
If you think The RAWK Agency could help your brand reach its full potential, please don't hesitate to get in touch.