One Black Bear has started a new chapter. We have merged with our previous sister agency, established a new management line-up and expanded our expertise to offer a full service solution to clients.
Based in the heart of Birmingham’s creative quarter, at The Old School House, Fazeley Studios, Digbeth, we feel we are a rather unique beast within the communications agency realm.
Headed up by two creative minds – business partners Jon Harrison (pictured above, left) and Richard Elwell (above, right), who have worked together for the past 25 years – One Black Bear has a full service proposition and an attitude to communications that sets it apart from other agencies.
First founded in 2003, One Black Bear today is now the sole business owned by the creative duo, who have rolled its creative, advertising, digital, social and now PR, into a full service package. Bringing the core communications disciplines under one roof is a decision made in direct response to the way clients want to work – and how agencies need to adapt.
“It just made good sense,” comments Richard. “We’ve always been an agency that’s light on its feet, ready to adapt to what companies need and continuously looking for new opportunities to grow our expertise and offering.
“We established Shadow Giants as a sister agency to One Black Bear in 2014 as we felt clients were often looking for ‘social specialists’ and therefore we felt it was the right thing at the time to create a separate team, under a separate name, providing this service.
“As time has gone on and our client portfolio has grown, it no longer makes sense to keep things seemingly separate from one another.
“We are a communications agency with a lot to offer – and doing so under the one roof of One Black Bear strengthens our proposition and brings clarity to what can be a needlessly confusing industry.”
It is the need for an open agency approach and an integrated service offering that has led to us adding PR services to the mix. Linking together all facets of One Black Bear – which comprises some 24 creative, strategic, digital and social specialists – to create a full service communications package.
This evolution of the business profile has taken place as a direct response to client feedback and changes in the way brands look for creative partners to work with.
One Black Bear has formed a management team of directors, each of whom bring many years of expertise from all corners of the communications industry to lead the agency’s creative, marketing, digital, design, PR and social services.
Amy Eddy was appointed early last year as Managing Director of the former Shadow Giants team, bringing with her 15 years of marketing experience, 10 of which has been focused on digital strategies at Total Media and McCann Erickson.
Amy Gouldson heads up Account Management. Having started her career at One Black Bear almost five years ago Amy has worked her way up the ranks to oversee the majority of accounts in the agency.
Kate Hartshorn joins the agency as Associate Planning Director to lead the agency’s strategic output and ensure One Black Bear create work that truly impacts the bottom line. She spent 15 years at Big Communications, most recently as Managing Partner of the Leicester office and has worked across a number of blue chip clients, including WKD, Domino’s and Joules Clothing.
Timing is everything
“The time was right to make a change to our business,” comments Richard. “Since we struck out on our own in 2003 with our first venture, The Unagency, Jon and I have identified changing requirements within the communications industry and have adapted our business model in response to the evolving needs of marketeers”
Jon agrees. “This has been a natural evolution rather than a knee-jerk revolution.
“We know our strengths and we understand what brands are looking for. We have remained agile through challenging economic times and are excited to be bringing everything under one enigmatic name.”
Making a stand
Chosen many years ago and rooted in a digital background, the One Black Bear name carries a great deal of meaning for both Jon and Richard and for the agency as a whole. A symbol of courage, agility and authority, the black bear is an apt choice for our team, as we have had to be resourceful and adept at spotting opportunies from a mile away – and now with a refreshed direction, it has become our emblem.
“We believe One Black Bear stands out from the creative crowd because of our core ethos – ‘get to the point’.
“The communications industry can often over-complicate the art of communication, thinking that purely having a lot to say at a pitch equals new business wins. To the contrary, to our mind this often confuses clients and what they really need is an agency that can cut through the waffle and arrive at a solution to the given business proposition quickly and in a creative manner.”
“You only have to visit our website to see we are different in how we talk, how we present ourselves and how we work with our clients, and this is undoubtedly responsible for our success to date – coupled with the talented team we have built, one colleague at a time.”
This mantra of ‘getting to the point’ is working well for us, having been chosen as the lead creative agency for National Express at the start of the year and already adding experiential PR to our remit with a recent campaign. Other key accounts for us include University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The Camping and Caravan Club, youth homelessness charity St Basils, Honda Motorcycles and Marketing Birmingham.
With more than 100 awards under the team’s belt and a new management structure in place, we’re proving that One Black Bear is an agency not to be ignored.
Richard concludes: “What makes One Black Bear is the fact that it’s an agency led by creatives. We have distinct areas of specialism but these can blend seamlessly with each other as a client brief calls for. It’s a creative collaboration we strive for as a team and with our clients, and we’re excited for the next chapter in the One Black Bear story.”