Frank Onyenka

the showcase 2022


Hitting the big time: Pablo's 2022

The independent became a top 20 agency and looks continued to grow

By creative salon

It seems extraordinary now that just a few short years ago Pablo was a somewhat obscure shop. Since then it's created out a very distinctive and attractive role, under the leadership of founder Gareth Mercer. He tells us more:

Gareth Mercer, founder, on Pablo's 2022

What three words would you use to describe 2022?

People, focus, momentum

Talk us through some of your agency’s highlights this year?

We wanted our creative momentum to be just as strong as our business momentum. To make work that means something to people. To do that we needed to create an environment where everyone – from our employees to our clients to our partners - can express themselves without fear. We like to think this has helped make some of our best work yet.

What one thing are you proudest of this year?

Honestly so many things, but all under one theme that we take pride in. Change. Changing the face of a category or the way we look at things.

In January we were the first agency in the country to launch “gender neutral” parental leave.

We launched an inner city schools initiative to help bring new people into advertising.

We continued to help the nation ‘find their thing’ with our colourful DFS work.

We kept building on the success of the ‘Food we Get It’ platform for Deliveroo.

Through our “Only Choice Lettings” project with Shelter, we helped change legislation by lobbying the government to make private letting safer.

We helped save lives by redesigning the resuscitation council logo into a ‘CPQR’ code heart, launching it with Brentford FC. We even launched a new range of resuscitation manikins with Sex Education star Connor Swindles in order to attract a younger audience.

We helped more people get back into galleries encouraging everyone to see art differently with the ‘more you see, the more you see’ rebrand for Art Fund.

As the war in the Ukraine continued to worsen, we launched a travel campaign in partnership with united24 (President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s charity) to help raise funds to help the country.

We were very pleased and lucky enough to win 17 new clients and partners we could truly add value to.

And we reminded the nation that there is sunny fun to be had next year with our darkly humorous Secret Escapes work.

And what’s been your biggest challenge?

Helping each other grow as we grow as an agency and to make sure our success goes hand in hand with our partners. I am really proud that we have stayed true to our core purpose at Pablo whilst living up to these goals.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?

We have some really exciting work coming out early in the year. But alongside that, I’m really excited to see how the group develops next. We have a restless team of very humble entrepreneurs at Pablo. This year has given them more confidence and experience than ever before. They have real value to add to brand owners and I can't wait to see what adventures 2023 throw their way.

And what one change would you most like to see in our industry next year?

Belief and action. There are many challenges that exist in making our industry more open and diverse and there are large economic pressures looming. However, commitment to innovation, creative thinking and action is where our value and power comes from. If we apply this with focus we will surprise ourselves with what’s possible.

Also, focus: learn to pick the best partners and not say yes to everyone. We are so lucky with ours.

Creative Salon on Pablo's 2022:

Morrisons might have eluded Pablo in the final shoot-out but that was a very rare disappointment in a year that saw 17 new clients attracted to the agency's increasingly interesting proposition. And how heartening to see an agency entrusted by so many clients on the basis of its creative excellence across such a breadth of sectors.

The agency's wins included the Cabinet Office, P&O Cruises, Dr Pepper and AJ Bell and it's little wonder that the agency had to staff up. New hires included Laura Rogers as managing creative director, James Broomfield as head of strategy, Rachel Dymond as head of agency development, Cullen Farleigh and Ola Soyemi as creatives and Will Bingham and Victoria Daltrey as creative group heads.

Pablo is a lively independent agency - and how good it is to see good things happen to good people - long may that continue.

Creative Salon Says: Pablo's humility is both endearing and yielding results - and although it goes against type, the agency should look back on 2022 with immense pride. While its new business success is reflected in its ascendancy up the billings table and is pleasing to see, the breadth of its distinctive and impressive creative output is a better metric still. Can't wait to see what 2023 brings.

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