George Bryant: I’ve worked with Oystercatchers a number of times. I worked with them when I ran AMVBBDO, the biggest agency in this country, and we worked with them on a number of high profile pitches and I have many positive memories from those encounters, but probably my fondest memories of working with Oystercatchers are when we started the agency. We started the Brooklyn Brothers three and a half years ago, right in the middle of the recession, and it was brilliant to have people like Peter and Suki in the team just to bounce our original ideas off. In many ways they were more like partners and advisers to us than match makers.
George Bryant: What I look for through the pitch process is guidance. You’re trying to navigate a four, five, six week process and what you want is always someone on the end of the phone who understands the seat you sit in. You sit there and make quite a commitment as an agency – a commitment of time, resource, money and energy. The last thing you want is weak partners helping coordinate things and one of the things I love about working with Oystercatchers is that they seem to be always there when you need them through that process. They’re very organised but actually more than that, they’re very responsive. Every agency in every pitch approaches it slightly differently, so what you look for in a company like Oystercatchers is the ability to work with you rather than just impose a straight line pitch process.
George Bryant: In general I’m deeply troubled by every other thing that comes out of PC’s mouth – but not as much as his wife by the sounds of things! I’ll be honest; pitches are a difficult time for an agency. You’re committing a lot of resource and a lot of energy to something that won’t necessarily bear fruit. Genuinely, the best thing about working with Oystercatchers is you feel you’re in good hands. You won’t necessarily win but you’ll enjoy the process and you’ve got more than a good chance of getting to a good result.
George Bryant: It’s like comparing Man United and Swansea – Clearly Swansea are better! Why are Oystercatchers better than their competition? The thing that I really like about Oystercatchers is I feel like I have a personal relationship with them. I don’t feel like it’s a process imposed, a potentially faceless pitch process. You genuinely don’t just get Oystercatchers: you get Peter, you get Suki, you get Vic’s. It’s really important actually that what we’re doing often is about human beings, trust, and you genuinely create together. In Oystercatchers I like working with people rather than just a series of processes.
George Bryant: At the beginning of a pitch process there are so many unanswered questions and there are questions that you haven’t really thought of that will emerge on the way. If I was going to recommend Oystercatchers, one of the real reasons for recommending would be that I know that I can ask Oystercatchers at any time for guidance and help in the process. I say that sitting in an agency seat but I would have thought that the exact same is true on the client side. You go into a pitch process not really knowing how it’s going to end up. You might have a timeline, you might have a series of stages, but there are a lot of unknowns that you come across along the way and I’d want to be able to ask Oystercatchers, people like Peter and Suki, for advice along the way, not just in the beginning on in the formal meetings.
George Bryant: One of the great things about setting up your own agency is that you’re accountable and whenever we meet new clients we always like to be ourselves and we like to show clients exactly who as well as what they are getting. For us business is intensely personal – we want to create running mates and effectively I think there are so many challenges in today’s business environment that you buy people and in myself, in my partners, in Jackie and in Ali, and in the rest of the team, you buy people with character who are going to stand there with you. We won’t get everything right, but we’ll get the majority of things right together and we’ll move quickly. In terms of how the Brooklyn Brothers is effective, I think it’s because we take things intensively personally. I also think it’s because we approach a problem in a very broad way. We always like to focus on the business challenge rather than just the creative solution and we like to think broadly about the answer rather than just in a narrow sense about comms or advertising so when we’re in a conversation with clients it tends to be about “what’s your business challenge?” rather than “what do you just want the advertising to look like?”
George Bryant: I think over the next few years the industry’s going to go through some really interesting times, I mean it is already. It feels to me like there’s no handrail anymore. It used to be that past performance was a guarantee of future success. In today’s environment with so much change all around us, there’s no such thing as a sure bet, there’s no such thing as a proven formula. What we’re all trying to do is find people we enjoy working with, people you respect working with, and we’re going to try and make up future a bit together. It sounds like a fairly grandiose term, but what we’re trying to do is apply a degree of creative flair to genuine problems and let’s travel to some places that none of us have been before. Unless we try and create things which are different and which cut through, the danger is the internet doesn’t need any more average ideas. It feels like there’s so much digital debris floating round there, unloved. We want to create ideas that cut through, we want to create ideas that people talk about and share and I think we’ve got to be collectively brave in the pursuit of those.
George Bryant: I guess in some ways one of the key challenges for the Brooklyn Brothers is that we’re not Saatchi’s or JWT or even AMVBBDO; all great agencies and all household names, but one of the real challenges for the Brooklyn Brothers is to prove to people who’ve never heard the name that we’re worth talking to. We’ve been very fortunate since we launched in picking up some great clients and some great relationships; people like Virgin, BBC Wordwide, Sky, Apple and our challenge is to meet people with what we like to describe as the ‘entrepreneurial gene’. There might be people in smaller business really trying to create waves in their industry and there might be people in bigger businesses who want to do something a bit different, but our challenge is always finding someone who wants to be as entrepreneurial and as challenging about the idea as we do.