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It all started with a Yellow Pages and a trip to Glasgow in 1989


I was selling advertising space in the Odeon Moviegoer magazine. I had a phone, a copy of the Yellow Pages and a pad and pen. I'm trying to convince takeaways and nightclubs to buy a quarter page. The back cover is always a car dealership as a rule. In 1989 there were over 260 Odeon Cinemas in the UK and we covered them all.

I thought: "What if I could get one advertiser to take ALL the back covers?" I put this idea to my boss and was permitted an hour a day to work on it. After a few weeks I landed a meeting at a Glasgow advertising agency called Coltas who looked after the Kwik Fit account.

The Account Director gave me a guided tour of the agency and I followed him listening intently - like the kids arriving at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory for the very first time. I was hooked. For the very first time I could see something I wanted to do with my life. I was going to be an ad man. When I returned to work I grabbed a copy of the local Yellow Pages and tucked it under my arm as I left.

The next two days were spent on 'sick leave' calling every advertising agency listed. By the time I got to M of marketing consultants I got a result and in December 1989 I began a new role as Account Co-ordinator for MDA.

Now MDA was a very entrepreneurial agency indeed. Their basic strategy was to agree to do things and then work out how to do them afterwards.


I shadowed the two directors at meetings where they had crazy, wild ideas which I was then tasked with turning into a reality. Brown trousers were standard issue. I learnt a lot very quickly indeed. Over ten years there I rose to the rank of Creative Director. At that point I decided to start my own agency.



I didn't start the business straight away. Given the slightly cavalier approach I had grown up with, I decided it wise to see how really big agencies did things. I took on stopgap roles at The Marketing Store in Leeds working on ASDA and then Dialogue in London looking after Coke. I learnt a lot, but I also realised that size, international offices and stellar billings are no guarantee of a more orderly approach to things. Everyone was winging it. 


Zest was born. I took some MDA clients with me and had a fine time proving that if I could deliver great work in the drinks and leisure sector I could do the same elsewhere. At first I worked from home and that honed my self discipline. It's so easy to fall into the trap of watching Judge Judy in your underwear when you really should be working. 


We rented an office and we changed the name to Zestisbest. By this point there were over 30 creative firms using the word Zest in their names. Can't sue them all. 


In the years to come we made people drink more, then we stopped them from drinking more, we blagged Harry Redknapp, we launched huge cruise ships. We debated fracking, we led the way in discount retail, we protected the elderly from bogus callers, we re-invented premium lager advertising and we loved every minute. Hard work? Yes. Worth it? Definitely. 


By this point we are not only ridiculously good, we're also ridiculously fast - so your budget does more.  If you're looking for a marketing agency with 30 years experience and unparalleled agility that saves you money then you've come to the right site. All that really matters are results and  we get results

Let's talk about your marketing. Call Steve on 07974 179899

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