the showcase 2023

A diverse and comprehensive offering: Atomic's 2023

Building further on its capabilities promises much for the future

By creative salon

With a refreshed creative department now bedded in and showing results, Atomic's mission to build brands in the age of performance continued with some interesting new acquisitions and launches across the past twelve months.

We caught up with Jon Goulding for his take on the year.

Jon Goulding, CEO, on Atomic's 2023:

What three words would you use to describe 2023?




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

2023 seemed to be the year that the whole industry and press were obsessed with crystal ball gazing about the future of creative agencies and the creative service business as a whole. Atomic spent 2023 doing more than talking, making some big changes to our offering in response to our clients’ changing needs. So it’s no coincidence that Atomic’s acquisition, and subsequent launch of social creator agency Supernova has happened parallel to the Creator Economy boom.

Supernova, and our performance marketing agency Atomic Altitude, are both off to a flying start. New doors have opened to us and we can see increasing appetite for the way we build high performing brands using creative height in combination with proper through-funnel creative capability, found generally only in the bigger, creative network agencies. We’ve won several new clients including Clearscore and Back Market and we’re pitching against the very best agencies in the industry. All of this, coupled with some award wins for heycar! and Greater Anglia, adds up to a decent year against a backdrop of economic uncertainty.

What one thing are you proudest of this year?

I’m proudest of our ability to make bold moves this year, as a whole agency team given the backdrop of such economic hardship. It’s normal for agencies to ‘hunker down’ when things get tricky and wait for the market to ‘bounce back’. But the team at a whole agency level have been brilliant, and focusing on brilliant work for clients but in all kinds of new shapes and sizes. It’s exciting to see multi-disciplinary teams sitting round the same table, working on the same brief. It’s proof that our agency model, the Atomic Orbit, is delivering connected creativity with significant better results for clients. Our work for challenger brand Yeastie Boys was not just a creative triumph but an exemplar of how this new way of working can help scale-up brands challenge and beat the market leaders at their own game.

And what’s been your biggest challenge?

Managing the pressure of a fourth year of economic crisis inflicted upon you by factors out of your control is not easy and it’s hard to get people to ‘go again’. Our part of the industry is going through a revolution and we need to look through the lens of opportunity to find new areas of growth and run towards these with energy and enthusiasm.

What are you most looking forward to in 2024?

Well, we’ve made it through yet another challenging year and we’re finishing 2023 with a positive outlook. The foundations have been laid to ensure we have a brilliant start to 2024, with an extremely healthy new business pipeline and clear growth focus. Our offer is resonating strongly with prospects and clients, adding weight to our ability to build brands in the age of performance. We’re also attracting some great talent and will soon be announcing our new strategic lead from one of the industry’s best creative shops.

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

Far fewer hours and column inches talking about how adland needs to find its voice and influence again and more time dedicated to showcasing those who are already doing it. I can’t think of another industry that talks itself down more than adland and that just feels like the opposite of what we’re supposed to be experts at doing!

Creative Salon on Atomic's 2023

Atomic kicked off 2023 in style, winning the credit scoring business ClearScore just as the nation was looking to better stay on top of its finances.

Its debut work, which broke shortly later, was an emotionally-charged spot directed by Si&Ad and produced by Academy Films that told the story of a loving father and son as they navigate the little ups and downs of living together.

Other creative highlights include charming spots for Greater Anglia, Stansted Express and East Midlands Railway that showed Atomic's particular expertise within the rail franchise operators.

The ‘Where Wonder Starts’ ad for Greater Anglia used an Alice in Wonderland theme to personify the feeling of wonder and adventure that train travel brings and used The Hare, a distinctive fluent device created to symbolise the speed and freedom of the Greater Anglia brand.

Beyond this, Atomic exercised its funny bone with a campaign for the Kiwi beer brand Yeastie Boys, urging Eurovision countries to “open up and let NZ inside the EU".

Yeastie Boys, the world’s smallest multinational beer company, founded in New Zealand and also brewing in the UK, wanted to highlight why the country should be in the Eurovision competition, poking fun at Australia’s inclusion in the contest and inviting fellow New Zealand pals to launch the first ever official unofficial Eurovision entry. The non-traditional campaign launched on social as well as with a series of events taking place across London and Liverpool, backed by PR.

Atomic has never been an agency to rest upon its laurels however and its momentum continued apace in 2023. Having acquired the celebrity and influencer business Talent & Brands, it launched a social creator agency called Supernova in September. The move marks a significant milestone in Atomic's plans to build its unique connected creative offering.

Just a few weeks later it launched a performance marketing agency called Atomic Altitude to help clients elevate their digital media performance. Run by co-founder and managing director James Shepherd, Atomic Altitude is a further sign of Atomic’s ambition to create a new agency model that builds brands in the age of performance.

On the management floor, there was a series of promotions with business director Solomon Gauthier elevated to head of account management, and senior creatives Matt Crump and Gavin McReady made creative directors.

Creative Salon Says: Atomic has shown that its commitment to marrying brand and performance is more than just easy talk with the launch of Atomic Altitude. Along with the other acquisitions, the agency offers an interesting and expansive suite of services - all the more impressive given that it remains proudly independent. In an agency world where the middle ground is disappearing, Atomic has found its niche at the smaller-but-fully-formed end of the market, a winning formula for so many clients.


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