Uncommon Creative Studio began with a mission to build brands that “people in the real world are glad exist.” Never has that been more important than this year.
Since coronavirus struck, the London agency has persuaded craft beer Brewdog to pivot its distillery to make a million units of hand sanitizer, delivered the U.K.’s biggest mental health campaign for broadcaster ITV and created scented candles for Earl of East evoking places including pubs and cinemas that people miss during lockdown. “Other agencies woke up and said ‘We want to survive.’ We said, ‘We want to help,’” says creative founder Nils Leonard. “We are very bad at comfort.”
A culture of “leaping into any form of threat or frustration in a positive way” has seen the agency—founded in 2017 by Leonard together with his fellow Grey London alumni Lucy Jameson and Natalie Graeme—become one of the most sought-after in London. It picked up 19 new clients in 2019, with briefs from power brands including Nike and the Guardian coming in alongside work for several startups and challenger brands. The agency also creates its own brands, including compostable coffee pods Halo.
Revenue increased from $3.6 million in 2018 to $6.8 million in 2019, and is predicted to grow by another 35 percent this year.
Much of Uncommon’s work is on a project basis and, with a core staff of 55, the agency builds a bespoke “studio” around each project with a team of freelancers. “The industry is changing. There is more fluidity and if you are known for doing great creative work you get the pick of the talent,” says Jameson.
It’s also choosy on who to work with, says Graeme. “If we are being selective about the sorts of briefs we are answering, that gives confidence to the client.”