Start-ups need style and substance in rich supply
A view from Jeremy Lee

Start-ups need style and substance in rich supply

One of the benefits of having an oversupplied agency sector is that fashion and other such fripperies aren't necessarily followed slavishly by clients. And so, for every Wieden & Kennedy and Bartle Bogle Hegarty apparently blazing a trail, there's a Leagas Delaney and a Bray Leino plodding away in the background. It's a broad church where the client pays the money and makes their choice, whether spangly or solid or something in between.

Rather unfairly, and despite having a reputable name worthy of a gentlemen’s bespoke outfitters, Hurrell Moseley Dawson & Grimmer never really managed to hit a high in the fashion stakes despite riding the same wave as many other more trendy start-ups such as Adam & Eve and The Brooklyn Brothers.

Unfortunately, it didn’t even manage to build up enough new-business momentum to be described as a plodder either, which was a shame given the collective talent therein.

There was also no shortage of goodwill to its capable – and likeable – founders, who took considerable risks in launching the start-up when most of their contemporaries were more concerned with the eventual state of their pension pots. All credit is due to their entrepreneurial spirit and pursuit of a dream in the first place, but its positioning looked a bit nebulous and the rebirth of the putative full-service model seemed fanciful.

Wags equipped Exit might be a more appropriate moniker - especially after the loss of Harveys this summer

Sadly, things appeared to come apart at the seams. Al Moseley was the first to leave, departing these shores for 180 Amsterdam. He was followed by Greg Grimmer and, as the letters fell like confetti from the sign above the door, the agency eventually rebranded as the more progressive Enter. The thinking behind the name, presumably, was that it was an allusion to the agency entering a new dawn as well as a welcome to new clients who had hitherto proved somewhat elusive. Wags quipped that Exit might be a more appropriate moniker – especially after the loss of the Harveys retail account this summer.

Nonetheless, Enter did manage to find itself a place on the Government’s creative roster, proving that reports of its demise were unfounded.

With Neil Dawson also quitting to join the equally unfashionable agency brand SapientNitro, Enter, erm, enters yet another chapter that its one remaining founding partner, Nick Hurrell, says will be based on a broader offering comprising culture, communications and technology.

Ultimately, there’s a lesson here for any start-up – fashion might not matter, but style does. It’s heartening that news emanating from the more recent crop of new agencies, such as Joint and Lucky Generals, bears this out. It’s difficult not to wish the charming Hurrell every success with his restyled agency – if anyone deserves it, it’s him.