Close-Up: 101 will offer clients more room for manoeuvre

The start-up founders Laurence Green and Phil Rumbol believe their agency can provide true entrepreneurial spirit.

- What are your longand short-term aims for 101?

Laurence Green: We want to reach for great things with and for good people. We want to be a company held together by respect and enthusiasm. We want to be a place where good people come together to do great things. We hold the belief that imagination, in all its guises, can move business and not just brand. That a good idea trumps great execution.

Phil Rumbol: We aim to help define what a creative company can do for business.

- Could you give us a brief outline of the agency model and an idea of how the agency will operate?

LG: It's less an agency model and more a company spirit: we want to be engaged earlier and deeper in the business problem, roaming beyond the siloes for answers and co-authors.

- How important will it be to get the founding partners working on the same wavelength?

LG: We've all worked together for years in different capacities, and in some cases go back decades. Working on roughly the same wavelength is what brought us together. We're now more concerned with creating a stage for others.

PR: Birds of a feather flock together.

- Let's talk about the name. Aren't you a little worried about the connotations of the name 101 (Room 101, from George Orwell's 1984)?

LG: No, not at all. Unless you think The Carphone Warehouse only sells car phones. From warehouses.

- How vital is it to have an ex-client as part of the management line-up? Why don't we see more clients move into the agency world?

LG: It's not vital. But clients see the world through a broader, more businesslike lens and we like having that in our company. Phil is someone we know to be a co-creator of great brands and great ideas too. That's the sweet spot.

- You've spoken before about the agency needing to be flexible. Why is this important and how will you manage to achieve this?

LG: We want to tackle problems big and small, and get to better answers more efficiently. We're arranging ourselves loosely, taking the business of casting according to task very seriously, and are humbled to have a network of enthusiasm wrapped around us.

- Do you think the agency will be suited to a particular type of client?

PR: It will be suited to any folk who want to make a difference.

We want to attract people with vision, rather than companies with budgets.

- There have been very few high-profile start-ups in recent years. Why do you think this is, and what made you bite the bullet and do it?

LG: Fear and comfort put most off, we would guess. Experience, frustration and hope emboldened us in equal measure.

PR: The flux of the past decade cuts both ways: inspiring some and inhibiting others. Strong swimmers dive into fast-flowing waters.

- For two of the founders, this will be a second start-up - a rare feat. What did you learn from your previous experience when launching Fallon, and how will you be approaching things differently this time?

LG: The learnings would run to several pages. And, although others will, we won't be comparing what we'll do next with what we did then. That was Blur; this is Gorillaz.

- What would you put into Room 101?

PR: The overthought theories and underthought rumours about our name.


Details were sketchy when the news of a Fallon breakaway agency emerged in September last year.

The offering had yet to be given a name or a defined start date, and all the founders would say about the positioning of the agency was that it would offer clients "a flexibility that will enable us to really listen to what clients want, rather than having a fixed approach".

Initially, the names of four partners were revealed: the Fallon founders Laurence Green and Richard Flintham, the former Cadbury marketing director Phil Rumbol and the Saatchi & Saatchi Fallon chief financial officer, Steve Waring.

Rumbol had already worked with Fallon in the past while at Cadbury, most notably on the award-winning "gorilla" and "eyebrows" spots. Waring, meanwhile, had been a Fallon partner since 2000, and is taking responsibility for the commercial side of the company.

Just before Christmas, a fifth partner was revealed: Mark Elwood, who had worked with Green and Flintham at Fallon as the head of art and design. During his time at Fallon, Elwood worked on campaigns for Sony Vaio (including the award-winning "John Malkovich" digital ads), the BBC and Cadbury.

The agency had also been given a name, 101, which was inspired by the date that it would begin trading (10 January), as well as a location - its offices are based at 9 Rathbone Place, just a stone's throw away from Fallon's Great Titchfield Street headquarters.

There are rumours regarding who its first client will be, but it is an issue that the founding partners are all remaining tight-lipped on.