SCOTLAND: BORDER CROSSERS - What lures advertising people to London and drives others to Scotland? Karen Yates finds out

BILLY MAWHINNEY, creative director, Faulds, Edinburgh

BILLY MAWHINNEY, creative director, Faulds, Edinburgh

Billy Mawhinney is only 23 miles further away from Old Trafford than

when he was in London. He still manages to eat at the Ivy quite a lot

and Scotland has plentiful supplies of champagne.

In short, it’s a contented creative that gets into his car of a night to

drive back to his manse on the shores of the Forth of Firth - a commute

that takes all of 20 minutes. The work environment is good too. As

creative director of Faulds he has at last moved away from the torpor of

giant multinational accounts. ’In large agencies with global networks

your work dies a death by a thousand cuts, and you don’t know which cut

it was that killed it,’ he says.

Smaller, more closely knit agencies like Faulds provide an immediacy

that was missing in his career at CDP, J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy &

Mather. ’Edinburgh is the city of the ’short no’,’ he explains . ’If

something’s not going to work you find out pretty quickly, there’s no

sitting around talking bollocks.’

Outside work there’s plenty of it, however. When he first arrived in

Scotland last February, the creative directors of other Edinburgh shops

took him out to lunch and they all still meet regularly. It reminds

Mawhinney of the old days in London. Yet life is not perfect. It’s the


They keep writing about Scottish football teams. ’I see a headline about

a great win by United, and find it’s Dundee United,’ he says


’I do miss the back pages of The Sun.’

JOANNA WHITSON, planner/buyer, TMB MediaCom Direct, London

Apart from the obvious differences between Scotland and London, things

like pollution, boring commutes and terrible tapwater, the big

difference that strikes Joanna Whitson is how seriously people take


’In London, the client understands the value of media so much more and

we are involved much earlier in the creative process,’ she says. ’In

Scotland, media was just called in at the last moment to fill in the

gaps.’ Whitson, who helped launch the Media Business in Scotland, now

works as a planner/buyer for TMB MediaCom Direct.

Whether this is related or not we don’t know but she’s been amazed by

the social life in London. Because commuting is so tedious, Whitson

says, her colleagues go out most nights straight from work, so much so

that she’s had to squeeze visiting the gym into her lunch break. ’Lots

of friends very quickly,’ is how she sums it up, ’but it’s not that easy

to get really close to them.’ In all, it’s a higher pressure

environment, where people both work and play harder, and eat out more.

Whitson claims she’s put on half a stone since she arrived nearly a year

ago. On the downside is that she sometimes feels trapped in London

because it’s so big. You could jump in the car and drive for two hours

and still not get away. ’It’s great here,’ she concludes, ’but I think

I’d like to go back sometime ... maybe for my old age.’

JONATHAN D’AGUILLAR, creative director, The Bridge, Glasgow

You can love Scotland to death, yet still be irritated by the tide of

nationalism sweeping the country. For Jonathan d’Aguillar it was Sir

Alex Ferguson, or at least an article in the Herald about him that

started him off.

’I became Mr Angry and fired off a letter to the paper,’ he admits.

Ferguson, you see, as well as being an excellent football manager, is

also a Scot, which meant some of the Scottish press felt he should not

help England with its bid to host the 2006 World Cup.

D’Aguillar, who came to Scotland nine years ago, found this too


’I wrote and pointed out that Adam Crozier, a Scot, had been appointed

to head the Football Association, and that there were several Scots in

the Cabinet. Did they expect them not to support England’s bid either?’

In almost every other respect d’Aguillar views living in Scotland as

something akin to a gift from the gods. The five-bedroomed Victorian

villa with half an acre is only 15 minutes from work; the camaraderie,

even between competing agencies, makes work a social event; and, of

course, there is the beautiful scenery.

He decided to move there rather than work in London, and when his

daughter was born a Scot, he was proud of the fact. He’s even adamant

that Glasgow, with its one million people and big city buzz, is

preferable to the more sedate and tightly knit Edinburgh. Which is just

as well for a Celtic fan who’s just made enemies in the press.

GREIG MCCALLUM, senior board planner, GGT Direct, London

Greig McCallum is a Scottish ex-accountant who made his career wooing

tourists north of the border on the Scottish Tourist Board account. Yet

none of his past reserve is evident when he talks about why he left the


’The weather is dismal. It pisses with rain all the time and is freezing

cold. Even in summer it’s grim,’ he says with feeling. There is the job,

too, of course. McCallum, as the planning director of Scotland’s largest

agency, Faulds, had reached the glass ceiling of his discipline and was

tempted south by the larger budgets and bigger names of London. ’I felt

a bit stifled, to tell you the truth,’ he says, and he has not been

disappointed by the move.

The traditional gripes about London - property prices, expensive eating,

tetchy people - have not worried him at all. Edinburgh property prices

are pretty high anyway, he says, and he and his wife, who is still an

accountant, simply traded a five-bedroomed house in Edinburgh for a

three-bedroom terrace in Hampstead. ’Moving to London really does

enliven your life,’ he adds. ’I work with all sorts of people now,

people I wouldn’t have met in Edinburgh, from different cultures,

countries and religions.’ McCallum is currently a senior board planner

at GGT Direct and misses only his friends and family in Scotland. ’The

scale of the place here is so big that there’s so many opportunities, so

many chances. If you live in London all the time you forget what it’s

like being outside.’


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