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CS Interview: Michael Moszynski

Michael Moszynski is the CEO of  LONDON, a new type of global agency built for today. LONDON are currently running a competition offering £100,000 of start-up funding to a new digital agency, read more about it here.

Why was LONDON created, and what sets you apart?

My partner and I worked for the Saatchi brothers for twenty years. We set up offices for them in Asia, New York, Europe and the Middle East. That experience showed us that in today’s 21st century internet-connected world you don’t need physical offices in order to do advertising that’s relevant and motivating anywhere in the world.

What you do need is a global mind-set and the global experience that we had gained from working with different companies all over the world. We also identified that internationally people look to London as a beacon of international creativity. So we set up LONDON to deliver London quality creativity anywhere in the world.

What makes us different is that, although other people can do elements of what we do, we’re the first agency to our knowledge that from birth has been focused on that proposition. We set out with the capability to both create and adapt from day 1. We have a network of 1,500 strategic planners and local copywriters that we can tap into in over 150 countries, we also have a solution that uses an internet-based campaign management system and a global production supplier. The totality of the offering means that we can create, produce and supply any ad in any language, anywhere in the world.

 

Where did the idea of the start-up competition you’re currently running come from?

We were discussing how we could grow at our board meeting; we thought we should acquire additional agencies with a range of specialist skills beyond what we currently offer. The discussion was prompted partly by the fact that Lord Davis, who is one of our advisors and investors, is also a non-exec of Diageo, and they’ve just invested £30 million into social media, which made for an interesting debate. Rather than buy an existing agency we felt it would be better to grow our own, therefore the question was how to do that. It’s been part of our ethos that if we are advising our clients on how to grow their brands then we as an agency should be able to do it for our own. We thought about what we would advise a client to do would be to run a competition and that was the approach we adopted.

 

How did you go about picking the four finalists?

We had quite a range of people interested in the competition, in fact we received over 1500 expressions of interest from over 60 countries including Moldavia, Vietnam and Iran.

We wanted to focus on the submissions from people who we thought brought something new to offer. Something that was creative, which showed some entrepreneurial thinking, and could at the same time compliment what we do and add something new and exciting.

 

What is the future for LONDON Advertising?

The World.

 

How did you get to where you are today?

I studied Economics at LSE and I originally thought I wanted to get into marketing because I liked the business side of helping to grow companies by delivering customer needs profitably. I secured a scholarship with Unilever which meant I got a 3 months placement at Lever brothers, the ‘University of Marketing’. While I was there I discovered that everyone in the marketing department looked forward to Friday because that was when they came into London from Surbiton to meet with their agency. It occurred to me that it didn’t make much sense to wait until the end of the week to start enjoying yourself, and clearly there was something about working in an advertising agency that was more fun. So I wrote a very verbose and strong minded letter to Saatchi & Saatchi who at the time had just become the number 1 agency in the world. They had elevated their brand beyond the industry so it had become a household name; I thought that if I was going to go into advertising I might as well start at the top. On 1st September 1986 I arrived at 80 Charlotte Street and was told that my first account was going to be British Airways and I had a meeting with the client that afternoon. I had the opportunity to be involved with some very interesting challenges with different clients, and for me part of the enjoyment has been understanding the different issues individual clients have, which then gives you experience to solve different clients problems. It’s that breadth of experience, knowledge and constant learning that I enjoy, I’ve always said that when I stop leaning then I’ll stop working.

 

What is some of the work that you’ve been involved with that you’re most proud of?

I’d have to say our Mandarin Oriental campaign because it’s been a great exemplar of strong, high quality, global advertising that has helped the client build a powerful brand and has added a lot of value to the company. It started with a really tough problem; the client only had a global advertising budget of $2million, which is tiny. We pitched an idea that used some of the world’s top celebrities, the client said they wouldn’t be able to afford them.

Our response was that these people would have to be fans of the brand, and they would do this because of that, not because we were going to pay them. As a recognition of the value of giving us a day to photograph them we do give a $10,000 donation to a charity of their choice and 10 room nights.

Once we had been appointed it was a challenge to get the first people to sign up on that basis and it took us about 18 months before we secured the first one – but we got the ball rolling and we’ve been able to attract the likes of Liam Neeson, Helen Mirren, Kenzo the Japanese designer – a very broad range of leaders within their respective industries. The thing that I’m most proud of is a video we created with Liam Neeson saying why he’s a fan of the brand. For me it’s a very powerful piece of film, the fact we were able to persuade him to do it for a donation to his chosen charity means we got a 60 second performance to camera, in one take, which people would give their right arm to secure for their client’s brand.

And that’s what I enjoy the most: achieving what for others would be impossible.

 

If you could collaborate with anyone alive today, on any project, what would it be?

I think it would be David Bowie. There is going to be a new exhibition at the V&A in April which I’m very much looking forward to. He’s been a creative leader and done so many interesting things within in film, visual design and music.

 

What has been your biggest learning throughout your career so far?

Never give up. You have to keep going and believe in what you’re doing. I think that’s what I would say to somebody starting out. It can be a difficult industry to get into, and there are a lot of challenges. But if you really want something to happen then you can do it.

 

Creative Social’s new book is called ‘The Best Piece of Advice Ever’. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

You are as good as your worst work. Be Brilliant.

 

As a global agency, what are the biggest challenges you face?

The biggest challenges are the biggest opportunities. Many international clients are very frustrated with the service they get from the big networks. They can be slow, cumbersome, expensive and not that creative. We are showing what the industry can be, delivering strong creative ideas that work in any media and any market.

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