Rather than an annus horribilus it’s been an anno triumphantes. A look back at the ups and downs of 2016 (but mainly ups).

Listen to pundits reviewing the past year and there’ll be doom and gloom over what a terrible 12 months we’ve just had.

Whether it be the talk of all the celebrity deaths (up about 15% on an average year apparently), the heart breaking tragedies in Syria that the West just stood by and watched or the political upheaval encountered both here and across the pond.

For One Black Bear though, (Birmingham’s largest full-service agency) rather than an annus horribilus it’s been an anno triumphantes.

We took 50 6ft pigeons to Trafalgar Square, put three drag Queens in Victoria rail station singing Gloria Gaynor and had seven cowboys gun slinging their way through Cardiff – all for our client National Express. Stunts that managed to actually shift the share price.
A client we were appointed as lead agency for back in January and had a TV ad and a new positioning in place by Feb.

New relationships have come through our doors in the form of working with Camping & Caravanning Club, National Grid, Siemens, Boost Energy Drinks, Eurolines and two other brands I’m not allowed to mention yet.
We already have six new business meetings/pitches in place for when we get back next year, so the long term programme of old fashioned DM we implemented must be working, along with our multitude of blogs and thought pieces.

You may or may not have noticed our new positioning ‘Sometimes it’s an ad’ which not only explains the breadth of what we offer but also represents the way we think and approach answering briefs. For us, the excitement of what we do lies in how differently we can solve the multitude of problems we face day in day out.

Some of our other creative highlights have included the ‘Donate your Homepage’ project we developed for local Youth Homeless charity St. Basils. We also designed their latest Annual Report (the third year running) and have just launched their free text service. Let’s not forget our topical Jeremy Corbyn ‘seatgate’ ad too.

Our award winning work for the NHS continues to change lives and preconceptions with new trusts getting on board. Spanning social, web, ads and PR to attract the very best talent. Not to mention successfully saving the organisation hundreds of millions of pounds.

We merged our Social Media agency (Shadow Giants) under the OBB banner and bolstered our offer with the addition of PR services.
This year also saw us introduce a new management team as we added the two Amys (Gouldson and Eddy) to join Rich and myself in helping run the agency and made massive steps forward by hiring two of the industries finest minds – Kate Hartsorne as our Associate Planning Director and Bron Eames as PR Director.

Big thanks to everyone who came to the ‘surprise’ party celebrating Rich and I working together as a creative team for 25 years. I know, we don’t look old enough.

Of course, all these ups can’t happen without the occasional down. We said goodbye to a few talented people and one account. After 22 years of working on the the business, we have parted company with Subaru. But as these things are cyclical, who knows, the relationship may reignite somewhere down the line.

There was also a couple of pitch time-wasters this year. This isn’t being a sore loser, we fully understand the process and I’m never bitter about things when conducted properly. Quite willing to accept defeat, as long as the process is conducted professionally and fairly.
But this year we experienced three of what can only be described as being some of the most ludicrously run pitches I’ve experienced in over 20 years.
These three alone will have cost us at least £40k in time investment. Multiply that by the four to six agencies involved in all of these (who will have put an equal amount of energy in) and the wasted resource is approaching £250k. It’s akin to the car insurance industry, all the bad drivers, criminals and faux injuries push the costs up for everybody else. We need to sort this out as an industry on both the agency and client side. That said, it’s an argument that’s been rumbling for decades and I don’t think 2017 will see a sudden change.

But it’s Christmas and should be about good will and optimism, so let’s concentrate on the seven gains vs one loss. We’ll take that.

Top visited blog posts of the year:

  1. Less for murder
  2. Are brands losing their identities?
  3. Roses and the thorny issue of awards
  4. The NHS post Brexit
  5. Mums vs James Martin
  6. No sign of Cluster’s last stand
  7. Can you do me a quick idea
  8. The American Dream – Research suggests there won’t be any shocks
  9. Who knows what’s around the corner
  10. The superb Superhumans

As our thirteenth year in business draws to a close, we’d like to thank all of those we’ve worked with and for. We’re excited about the prospects that 2017 holds (even with the triggering of article 50, a new President and further turmoil the world over) and look forward to meeting friends old and new.

We hope you’re one of them, so have a great break and maybe we’ll see you in the new year.