Patrick Morrison has all the right credentials to launch a creative
media agency. He's a surfer, wears cool T-shirts and still understands
"youth" despite being 37.
He's the sort of guy you see in all media agencies now, trying to steer
the media buyers in suits away from their calculators and TVRs toward a
land where flyposters and actors doing stunts are the norm. Actually,
this is a little unfair on Morrison who, having gravitated from a
traditional TV buying background, appreciates the value of media muscle,
but wants to create a space away from the large buying points.
His new venture, allmodcomms, will compete with the likes of Naked and
Unity in supplying ad agencies, media owners and advertisers with
creative media ideas. Morrison, who previously ran Manning Gottlieb
Media's creative media unit, will continue to work with its clients, but
the agency is wholly independent.
Morrison is a straightforward and likeable bloke. He doesn't hide behind
jargon, and his reasoning is simple and clear.
"Most creatives find it really useful to have a media person around the
table, on tap, when they are working. It's a role alongside account
planners to define how a message could work best and be manifested in
the most powerful way," he says.
This is something Morrison already has experience of. He has worked
with, among others, St Luke's on its COI Communications account for the
Working Families Tax Credit, and with TBWA/London on the launch of
PlayStation 2. His vision for allmodcomms is not to get stuck in the
"youth" or "urban" media ghetto, but to offer creative media to all
brands and media owners.
Morrison hails from Leeds and looks like a less shambolic version of
Dave Gedge, the lead singer of the Wedding Present and, once, one of
that city's favourite sons. He got into media after a spell in Italy
working as a salesman for a publishing company. He says: "I got the job
only to find that basic Italian was more extensive than my holiday
words: 'buongiorno', 'bella' and 'grazie'. I was told if I didn't make a
sale in two weeks I'd be out. I stayed for 18 months."
Moving to London, Morrison says he turned down a "poxy" offer from Tony
Kenyon at CIA before winding up there anyway after John Billett, which
he joined, was merged with CIA. At CIA he planned and bought across all
media before becoming a founder of The Billett Consultancy after it
demerged from CIA.
In 1995, Morrison was lured to Manning Gottlieb Media, which at the time
billed £40 million and had 20 staff. "I loved it," he says. "And
never looked back, starting with the launch of PlayStation. We had no
baggage for that launch. No data, no precedent, except to do it
Morrison claims that he always wanted to launch his own creatively
driven media agency and, despite the downturn, thinks the time is right.
Of the split with Manning Gottlieb, he says: "I can't recall a happy
'spin out' or breakaway ever. Thankfully, allmodcomms has a
collaborative relationship with Manning Gottlieb. I know that Nick and
Colin's 'escape from CIA' was traumatic. I am very lucky to have their
magnanimous support in allmodcomms. It creates a virtuous circle as I
launch with Manning Gottlieb as my first client, and haven't had to
spend 'months in the garden'."
When he has a spare weekend Morrison is off surfing in Devon or
He has been riding the waves for more than ten years and spent last
Christmas driving down the Brazilian coast finding good surfing
These opportunities may become rare as Morrison attempts to make a go of
allmodcomms. He is chasing business and hopes to soon hire a
Allmodcomms is founded on solid foundations. Despite not being an
industry "name" in the way that the Naked founders were, he is well
connected with both media owners and ad agencies. More importantly, he
has strong ideas and a great track record (work for PlayStation, Royal &
Sun Alliance and Virgin Mobile stands out).
One piece of work, which Morrison describes as a "co-conspiracy" rather
than a sponsorship, provides an insight into the stranger side of his
psyche. He worked with ID magazine on a comic book-style story called
The Third Place, which coincided with the launch of PlayStation 2.
Completely unbranded, it was a subtle piece of editorial activity to
create an idea of "The Third Place" in readers' minds. The plot involved
two young men who enter a body to rid it of a killer virus. The
conclusion of the story sees them exit the body on a stream of
At this point I feel like getting my coat, but Morrison sparks up
another cigarette and normality descends.
THE MORRISON FILE
1988: CIA, planner/buyer to media group head
1992: The Billett Consultancy, board director
1995: Manning Gottlieb Media, head of strategic planning
1999: Manning Gottlieb Media, creative media director
2001: Allmodcomms, founder