Martin Smith, who abruptly vacated his job as Grey Worldwide
London's chief executive eight months ago, has returned to the agency
scene as the founding partner of a start-up that plans to outsource most
of its work.
He is linking with Mark Rapley, the former BMP DDB deputy managing
director, and Roisin Robothan-Jones, a co-founder of the "green" product
distribution company Ark.
The trio will act as "commissioning editors" who will farm out, act as
quality controllers and co-ordinate all client needs from creative work,
website design and media buying to TV programme-making and PR.
Their fledgling operation - to be called Rapley Smith & Jones - begins
life with three as yet undisclosed pieces of business.
"We're not a virtual agency or a planning consultancy," Smith
"We're an ad agency and proud of it. But because we're outsourcing our
work we can solve any problem on any scale."
The agency, in which all three are equal equity partners, along with an
anonymous backer, says it will pitch for business, but may be drafted in
to augment clients' existing arrangements or even organise a pitch on a
Smith, who spent 18 years at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, latterly as the
deputy chairman, spent a less than happy period at Grey and left in May
last year after an apparent culture clash.
The new agency re-establishes his working relationship with Rapley,
which began when both worked at Saatchi & Saatchi, and Robothan-Jones, a
former director of the planning consultancy division at BBH Futures.
Smith claimed the start-up was a response to ego problems in traditional
agencies, which prevented them responding effectively to the integrated
solutions demanded by clients.
The agency has no intention of bringing in a creative to complement the
founders' account management and planning experience.
"It might appear tidier to have one, but that's bound to influence the
communications solution we suggest," Smith added. "We're trying to get