Sending the lift back down

14th September 2017

This week the founders of adam&eve made headlines as they collected their £110,000,000 pay out from selling to DDB.

One of those enjoying a smile is David Golding who I was lucky enough to work with at Bates Dorland (…as was) in London earlier in his illustrious career.

I’m working on a project to help reaffirm the power and relevance of advertising and marketing and to encourage young talent to join and stay in the industry.

As part of this I’m asking industry heavyweights to share their advice when ‘sending the lift back down’.

This is what David told me when I put a few questions to him recently.

How did you get your lucky break?

Being put together with James Murphy and Ben Priest by the management team at RKCR in London in 2004. We’d never met each other before but Jim Kelly and MT Rainey decided we’d work well together as their eventual replacements, after they exited the agency they founded. It was a huge responsibility for us and a huge gamble for them, but it paid off. We kept RKCR flourishing and formed a team that has worked together ever since.

What’s the secret sauce?

Ben, James and I are quite similar. Similar ages, backgrounds, values. When we started adam&eve in 2008 several people told us that our similarities were a weakness. They said there wasn’t enough conflict or disagreement within the team to challenge ourselves to be better and distinctive. But in truth we have found the opposite to be the case. We work brilliantly together because we are on the same wavelength as each other. We have got to the stage where we can see everything from each other’s perspectives. This makes us fast to come up with ideas and fluid in executing them. Above all, clients like and feed off the chemistry between us. They can see that they are buying a truly tight team, not a group of people who appear to have never met each other.

What’s your word of advice for those looking to succeed in the business?

Starting an agency is not merely a test of talent, it’s a test of stamina. Starting and growing adam&eve has been a vocation, not a job. Everything matters, all the time, year after year. At times it has been brutally hard work and the sacrifices have been enormous. I have observed start-ups that describe themselves as ‘lifestyle’ businesses, where the founders do a bit of work and earn a decent salary. But these agencies never fulfill their potential or leave any meaningful legacy. If you are brave enough to branch out on your own, you should be bold enough to give it your all. If you live for the weekends, don’t start an agency.

And if you had the chance to do it all again…?

I would have a long hard conversation with my family about the commitments and ramifications for them. And I would take a long hard look at the industry and see where the gap is. But in truth I see an industry endlessly challenging the agency model, the role of advertising, the sorts of campaigns and media they think is right for now. And I don’t see too many agencies simply saying, we will do the best work for each and every different client, according to what that brand and business needs. We never set out to be different, we just wanted to be good. If I did it over again, I’d just want to continue being good, using all the tools and channels available to us.

And what’s next?

A few more great campaigns and a lot more brilliant people walking through the doors of adam&eveDDB I hope.