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A new and exciting chapter starts with Selbey Anderson

By Burn •

  • Acquisition

Julie and I set Burn up in April 2005. Prior to that, we’d both been part of the management team at Black Cat – an agency which we’d seen grow from a small team of 6 to over 150 by the time it was sold to WPP and merged into JWT in Knightsbridge.

We set the agency up in my loft – with two desks, two laptops and two telephones (only one of which actually worked)! Whilst we waited for the one working phone to ring, we set about designing the perfect brand response agency.

  • The traditional agency costing model (day rate of each job title x time = project cost) was, we felt, often unclear and unfair to clients. So, we created a new cost model that didn’t hide behind job titles, instead using three simple job functions to provide greater transparency. It’s still the way we cost today to provide clarity and value.
  • We also wanted to bring more rigour to the creative process – so we invented a research methodology called Proven Creativity to optimise the responsiveness of our comms and remove the subjectivity from creative decision-making. This has remained part of our DNA, proving to be a secret weapon for many clients, ensuring that creative output leads to commercial returns.

In the midst of re-imagining a better agency model, we got a lucky break. Through a referral, we picked up a big digital project for (Not a bad client to kick things off with). That ignited the agency and we never looked back. We started renting a couple of desks in a shared office before expanding and then moving to our own place soon after.

Over the years, we’ve worked on some amazing brands and built up relationships with colleagues and clients that I’m sure will last forever. We’ve had lots of fun and a fair bit of success along the way too. At the 15 year point, Julie and I felt the agency needed fresh impetus to kick start its next stage of growth.

We had a number of conversations with potential partners and acquirers – one of whom was a fast-growing marketing communications group called Selbey Anderson.

From the first time we met Dom Hawes the CEO, we felt the fit was right. Selbey Anderson’s acquisition strategy is to build a network of specialist agencies – all experts in their individual disciplines – but who can come together to service clients’ end-to-end needs when appropriate. Agencies are left to focus on what they do best, whilst Selbey Anderson take on the back office function and bring new agencies into the fold.

For us it was a no-brainer. We’d keep everything that was brilliant about Burn – our team, clients, office, purpose and culture. And we’d have access to increased capabilities and capacity to enable us to undertake more and more for our clients.

So, a new partnership was formed and I’m pleased to say we are now proud members of the Selbey Anderson group. We’re excited and optimistic about the future – re-energised by the opportunities our staff and clients now have as a result of this move. We can’t wait to start this new chapter in the life of Burn and to see where the story takes us. Onward and upwards…