Former colleagues unite in new firm

Interview: Paul Mason and Jane Strachan

Punk pair: Paul Mason and Jane Strahan (by Terry Murden)
Punk pair: Paul Mason and Jane Strachan (by Terry Murden)

A new creative blend in adland

There’s a kicking and screaming new kid on the creative block promising to shake things up in adland.

Punk is the product of a pair of former Edinburgh advertising agency colleagues who have just won their first big account with whisky giant Whyte & Mackay.

The agency is the creation of Paul Mason and Jane Strachan who worked together at Newhaven before heading their separate ways.

Paul, who was latterly creative director at Publicis in London, where he handled clients such as Expedia and Renault, teamed up with his former work mate after rejecting an approach from a big agency to open an office in Edinburgh.

They noticed that a number of big companies and brands, such as Royal Bank of Scotland, Baxters and ScottishPower which had moved their accounts to London agencies, were returning to Scotland.

Jane said the repatriation of work north of the border encouraged them to go it alone and establish their own operation.

“These companies realised they were missing a trick,” she said. “By going London-centric they were putting off core customers. RBS became more English. Now they are back with Leith agency.”

Jane, who moved to the Scottish government’s marketing department before setting up her own consultancy, Blackbird Pie, hatched the Punk plan with Paul last autumn.

They are now operating from a business centre in Hill Street and call upon a network of like-minded specialists.

PunkThey cannot disclose details of the Whyte & Mackay contract apart from saying the client wants “disruptive ideas”, which appears to be why they were chosen.

“We know that if you have done good work in the past clients will want to work with you. We may be new, but we have been around quite a while,” she said.

Paul said the aim is to revive a true sense of creativity which he believes has been lost in some agencies. He wants a different approach or, as it states on the firm’s website, to “Rock the Kasbah”, and, yes, before anyone rushes to point this out, the 1982 song by The Clash is actually titled Rock the Casbah.

“We don’t want to produce cultural wallpaper,” says Paul who, at 41, is too young to have been a part of the punk scene, but has a fascination with it. The agency has acquired a limited edition of a Sex Pistols’ print by the band’s artist Jamie Reid worth £900 which it is using as part of its own marketing campaign.

“We came into this business to be creative and do things our way,” he said, adding a reminder that the late Pistol Sid Vicious made a famous recording of the Sinatra song.

Jane adds that at Newhaven they had the freedom to do whatever creative ideas came to mind. “We were empowered to do things and we want to do the same here.”


Jane Strachan

Birthplace: Newcastle (Scottish father). Age: 44

Educated: Stirling University (English, trained as an English teacher).

Paul Mason

Birthplace: Coatbridge. Age: 41

Educated: Trained as an electrician.





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