I’ve spent over thirty years working within a few square miles of Soho Square.
Historically, it’s where the majority of the client’s headquarters were situated.
It’s also where country’s magazines, photographers, printers, film companies based, so it became where the bullseye for the country’s ad agencies.
Leaf through a bunch of awards annuals and you’ll be hard pressed to find work from another city.
Birmingham and Manchester pop up periodically, but not regularly.
But in the eighties, one city turned up year after year, winning major awards.
In fact, if you were trying to get into a good agency in London at that time, as I was, you’d often be given the same advice; “Maybe try Jim Downie for a couple of years?”
This meant Scotland, Edinburgh to be precise.
It always sounded like a threat to me, or maybe a challenge is more accurate; Do you want it enough to live in SCOTLAND?
Jim Downie was what we called Hall’s of Edinburgh back then.
For those hardy enough to go and live in Scotland for a couple of years, he was seen as a shortcut to an advertising education and a better book.
Towards the end of the eighties Hall’s seemed to split into a bunch new agencies, suddenly names like Marr Associates, The Leith Agency, 1876 and many others were populating the awards books.
Their work always looked like it was created by a bunch of people having fun.
How did this happen and why did it stop?
I asked Jimbo, we had a great chat, hope you enjoy it.
Friend Of The Earth.
House Of Hardy.
Fit For Life.
Scottish Development Agency.
Be All You Can Be.
Royal Bank of Scotland.
Black Heart Rum.
Action On Smoking.
Cream Of The Barley.
THE LEITH AGENCY.
The Edinburgh Health Club.
Blood Transfusion Service.Clydesdale Bank.
Scottish Road Safety.
Wilsons Dog Food.
Royal Bank Of Scotland.
The Macallan Single Malt.
Nb. Early Jimbo.
6 responses to Minneapolis, U.K.
Thanks Dave. Jim was good company. I remember a lot of the work – it still seems fresh. Jim didn’t mention the Brewdog stuff which seems to have the same punk spirit. I flew into Edinburgh earlier in the year and loved the neon sign in the Brewdog pub at the airport – PRAY FOR DELAYS – great consumer insight!
It was a delightful surprise to listen to you and Jim banter about his apprenticeship
in a printer’s studio, inspiring students at Napier College and how three foolish
managing partners sold their souls for chicken feed.
The betrayal by Cockburn, Collee and Taylor set in motion a chain of events that resulted
in the destruction of Hall Advertising.
Arguably, the greatest agency Scotland has ever produced.
I would like to take this moment to express my sincere gratitude to Jim and Will Atkinson
who were gracious enough to appoint me as a humble young art director.
Jim and Will were insightful, generous, fair and fiendishly funny.
I felt blessed, because they gave me space to grow.
But, I was devastated when they quit.
Certainly, it soon became apparent after the arrival of the inept creative director
from London, the downward spiral was irreversible.
Respect, confidence and faith evaporated.
I would have loved five years at Hall’s, enough time to build a good portfolio,
but my wishes were thwarted. Still, I enjoyed two thrilling years which I will cherish.
All the very best to you, to Jim, his family and friends.
Happy New Year!
Great stuff well done Dave and Jim. And fantastic to see all this classic work compiled like this – thanks. “Cigarette End” and “Fast/Slow” still two of my favourite posters.
You fell straight into my trap.
1. Put out a podcast with Jim Downie about the overlooked and underrated Scottish scene.
2. Wait for you to post a comment.
3. Reply to aforementioned comment with a ‘love to do a podcast with you too, what do you think?’.
4. Because it’s public others will put pressure on you.
5. Eventually, feeling the heat, you say ‘yes’.
Another good podcast Dave. Thanks for that.
Around 1987 Leith was really becoming a major force. Creativity was at the heart of everything we did. And when Pete and I pinched Jim from Hall advertising it was the nail in the coffin for a once great agency.
Incidentally, the ad Jim was referring to at the end of the podcast was on the wall of my Napier studio and it wasn’t American it was for Tower Hamlets. London.
Showing 23 identical girls on a bike with the headline “Text while you’re driving and you’re 23 three times more likely to have an accident” Smashing ad done by AMV.
A visual technique mercilessly nicked by The Times but sadly with less charm.
Also its a shame you didn’t find the stunning work done by Faulds for Radio Scotland. Perhaps you’ll do a follow up sometime and we can rattle the old loft up here in Edinburgh.
Dave, I was one of those who did just that:”….you’d often be given the same advice; “Maybe try Jim Downie for a couple of years?”
It got me in the Book, (thank you Art Director David Reid), and an opportunity to sit on the D&AD Copy Jury. (When there was one.)
Jim inspired many, like all great creative directors he led by example.
He still does.
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