Campaign Digital Awards 2005: The MSN Award - Digital Achiever of the Year - Mark Cridge

You'll struggle to find anyone with a bad word to say about Mark Cridge, the managing director of glue London. Even when you tell them that he's set to pocket £4 million from the £14 million sale of his agency at the tender age of 31. Or that he looks half his age, and should be arrested for hair crimes.

None begrudges him his success. Last month, Cridge came top of a Campaign poll that asked the online advertising industry to name its most influential pioneer. Yet those who voted for him say that Cridge is not a pioneer in the strictest sense: someone who pushes the boundaries or breaks the mould. Rather he is a focused, amiable, down-to-earth operator who has achieved what he has by keeping things simple.

"I'm pretty sure Mark will laugh his head off when he sees his name in that list," Cridge's opposite number at the rival agency Play, Jon Sharpe, said. "He lacks conceit and arrogance to an almost unnerving level. He's built a great agency, which has done some great work, and in that sense he's been influential."

If there is one criticism that could be levelled at Cridge, it is that glue has been noticeably quieter this year. It hasn't contested its usual high quota of pitches, and its creative output is someway short of prolific.

The creative heights of "noodle web" and "hysterical girlfriend" for Pot Noodle, which both won gold Cyber Lions at Cannes last year, were created in 2003. Its Campaign New-Media Agency of the Year accolade was earned back in 2002.

But in this relatively quiet year, glue has continued to produce quirky, entertaining online advertising that the rest of the industry has tried so hard, for so long, to copy.

A charming viral for Procter & Gamble's Pringles brand, and another suggestive effort for Unilever's "slag of snacks" Pot Noodle (called "horn") have been sure signs this year that its creative juices haven't dried up. Indeed, its latest work for Virgin Money is further evidence of what the best interactive agencies can do to brighten up the drabbest of sectors on the internet.

Campaigns aside, when he hasn't been promoting online creativity via the Creative Showcase, and judging various industry awards (including Campaign Digital), Cridge has been occupied bolstering his agency. Miranda Ross, the head of planning at Harrison Troughton Wunderman, named as glue's head of planning in April, was one of the 20 new faces he's brought in this year. Glue now has 65 staff. Not bad going for an agency just six years old.

By glue's standards, a bronze Cyber Lion this summer (for Pot Noodle) might have been less than Cridge would have hoped for at Cannes. But don't forget that glue won Best Digital Agency at the IPA's Best of the Best Awards in February for its consistently strong work for T-Mobile, COI Communications, Unilever, the Royal Marines and Virgin Money. And then, of course, there are these awards, in which glue was shortlisted more than any other agency.

The agency now has more staff than FCB London, Wieden & Kennedy or Naked, and anticipates turning over £4 million by the end of 2005 - nearly 25 per cent up on 2004. If Cridge were a year younger, he'd probably be our Young Digital Achiever of the Year, too.

CV 2005: Agrees to sell glue London to Aegis for £14 million, earning a potential £4 million for himself 2004: Glue wins two golds and a bronze Cyber Lion at Cannes 2003: Cridge and co buy St Luke's shares and glue is independent again 2002: Glue London is named Campaign's New-Media Agency of the Year September 2001: Over-ambitious expansion plans force Deepgroup to close. St Luke's rescues it, and glue buys itself out of Deepgroup, paying £4,000 for its assets. Cridge changes the agency's name to glue London January 2001: Cridge is named among the Campaign Faces to Watch 2000: Media 21 is sold to Grey, and gluemedia becomes part of Deepgroup 1999: Cridge launches gluemedia with his creative partner Jeremy Garner, in a three-way joint venture with Deepgroup and Media 21 1997: Joins Modem Media as a designer and is soon promoted to senior art director, winning recognition for his work on Sony PlayStation and Lynx 1994: Cridge takes his first job at TW2.com, a small new-media design company in Birmingham, after training as an architect

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