The big bears

Agency profile

Who we are

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One Black Bear is a marketing agency based in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.

Launched in 2003, with the ambition to create great ideas that solve problems, sell things and bring together nice human beings all pulling in the same direction to achieve that.

We’re not the biggest of agencies, but chances are if you’re here you’re not looking for one. Remember, Amazon has a two pizza rule. That is, if a project team can’t be fed with two pizzas, then that team is too big. You’re not bigger than Amazon are you?

What we are, is a dedicated bunch of around 20 people that will fight tooth and nail to make you a success (read our Be Fierce mantra above) but we’ll also want to have fun doing it and make everyone involved shine.

Jon Harrison & Richard Elwell

Creative Partners

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Jon and Rich first teamed up as an Art Director/Copywriter creative duo back in 1991.

They launched their first agency in 2003 after leaving their roles as Creative Directors of Palmer Hargreaves Wallis Tomlinson and have together steered the good ship OBB ever since.

Having won too many awards to remember (they stopped counting at a hundred) their primary focus is always and has always been to create work that sells stuff.

Bears since: 2003

Kate Hartshorn

Managing Partner

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Attracting Kate to OBB was a real coup and a game changer for the business.

Having spent almost 15 years at Big Communications (that went on to become Big Dog and then Krow), where she rose through the ranks from Account Handler to Senior Plannner and then on to Managing Partner.

Kate brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and intelligent thinking to the agency. She has a planner’s brain so approaches her day to day with us based on rational thought and facts so is the perfect foil for our creative minds.

Bear since: 2016

Paul Bramwell

Non-Executive Chairman

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AKA Birmingham’s ‘Mr Media’ and our Chairman.

Having spent 30 years of his career working in some of the UKs leading media agencies, it’s his expertise in running these high profile shops that Paul now brings to his role at the Bears.

He helped set up Brilliant Media back in 2007 after 10 years running Universal McCann, he then launched Mediacom Birmingham in 2011. What (and who) he doesn’t know about this industry of ours is not worth knowing. He’s our font of all wisdom and the first person we turn to for advice and guidance. And he’s there offering that same expertise to all our clients, be it media conundrums or business challenges.

Paul now splits his time between us, Create Central (where he resides as a Board member) and the golf course – helps that his back gate opens onto a fairway.

Bear since: 2020


Amy Gouldson

Digital Account Director

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Amy has risen through the ranks of One Black Bear since she joined us over 10 years ago.

Taking care of all things digital at the OBB cave, Amy and her team manage website design, build and successfully deliver the vast array of digital media requirements.

Bear since: 2012

Beth Menear

Account Director

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Beth joined us after relocating from Manchester to Birmingham in 2018. She now heads up our account management team, responsible for many key client relationships.

As organised a person as you’re likely to ever meet, Beth is on top of everything that goes through the agency and probably has a spreadsheet somewhere to prove it. Loved and chased by clients and creatives alike, Beth will make sure everything is delivered on-time, on budget and with every t crossed and i dotted.

Bear since: 2018

Jenny Ray & Tristan Vere-Hoose

Senior Creative Team

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The celebrated and multi-award winning creative duo joined us from Chapter where they met and teamed up after Tristan had left Spark44.

Their quiet, unassuming demeanors hide a sharp, burning ambition to create ideas that really cut through and make a difference. You can read more about their illustrious career so far here.

Bears since: 2021


Steve Smith

Finance Director

Steve controls our purse strings with an iron grip.

Having first put his calculator into action at Barkers back in the 80s, he then went on to be Head of Finance at WPR and Wallis Tomlinson where he first met Jon & Rich… signing off their dubious expenses and chasing overdue timesheets. 30 odd years later and not much has changed.

A founding member of staff, Steve has always been a steady, consistent and reliable sounding board and you’ll probably never hear from him. Unless your invoices are overdue that is.

Bear since: 2003

Want to work with us? Click here.

... or we'd love to chat on 0121 227 4444