INTEGRATED: PORTFOLIO; Richard Ballard (l) and Chris Noel-Johnson

McBain Noel-Johnson was set up in 1972 as a design agency, but after a couple of years the company decided to ‘transfer big agency skills into a smaller operation,’ the chief executive, Chris Noel-Johnson, says.

McBain Noel-Johnson was set up in 1972 as a design agency, but after a

couple of years the company decided to ‘transfer big agency skills into

a smaller operation,’ the chief executive, Chris Noel-Johnson, says.



This evolutionary process was repeated in 1988, when Richard Ballard was

drafted in to set up an electronic state-of-the-art production facility,

called, imaginatively enough, the Electronic Studio.



It revolutionised the way agencies looked at creative production and

technology. ‘We realised that the future of production was in fully-

automated production,’ Noel-Johnson explains.



Noel-Johnson and Ballard have worked together at McBains (as it is now

called) for many years and have a complementary working relationship.

Ballard is the softly spoken, hands-on man.



He studied art at Somerset School of Art and Design, but admits: ‘I’ve

always been more interested in the mechanics than art.’



Noel-Johnson, meanwhile, is an account man by trade, having worked at

Ogilvy and Mather and S. H. Benson. He comments: ‘I wouldn’t say I was

an account man for long; I started McBains when I was 25.’



The pair’s most involved work was for Wightlink, a ferry service linking

the Isle of Wight to the mainland. They were immersed from the start,

from designing the corporate livery to creating the brand advertising.

‘We try to work closely with our clients at whatever pace they wish to

go,’ Noel-Johnson says.



McBains has also worked on campaigns for BT and the Heart of Britain

appeal.



Noel-Johnson adds: ‘Now our priority is to develop our creative

reputation, hence the hiring of Giles Keeble [the former creative

supremo at Leo Burnett] as creative director, and to develop online

work. Above-the-line media is fragmenting and agencies need the

resources to drive the business.’



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