New home, new start for Hodes


As Ri5 reported at the end of 2014, Bernard Hodes UK was in the midst of some major changes, bringing new opportunities for the agency with its new structure, new brand and under new ownership.

Further signifying the new dawn for the business is its recent move to new premises, overlooking the Thames and within earshot of the bells of St Paul’s Cathedral.

We visited to take a look around and to speak to managing director Simon Phillips about what the future has in store for the business. 

Perhaps one of the most striking aspects of the new Hodes premises isn’t the view, or the proximity to some of the capital’s biggest landmarks. Instead, it’s the location itself; Hodes has chosen a home slightly away from agency hotspots Farringdon and Shoreditch, partly reflecting a desire to branch out and do things differently from the pack.

Phillips points out that the agency ‘no longer exists as it used to’, a result of changes that have taken place within the business as well as wider industry changes that have required Hodes to evolve and reposition. In his words, the business feels “like a start-up with an amazing heritage.”

He looks back to what he sees as Hodes’ previous main points of entry into the market and compares that to where the business is now.

“As well as our core employer branding work we’re becoming increasingly focused on creative campaigns and nimble pieces of work that enable clients - and prospective clients - to benefit from the creative and strategic expertise in the agency,” he says.

“We’re also changing our culture, moving forward without leaving behind what Hodes has always stood for. We’re aiming to be more relaxed in what we do and more creative in all aspects of our business.”

Examples of this include a new set of agency principles which, Phillips says, encompass what the business is all about and help to set out its future path. Phillips stresses that he wanted to avoid a ‘cobbler’s kids’ scenario, in which the agency could have found itself creating great values for clients without focusing sufficiently on its own.

As a result, a new set of Hodes values has been put together, capturing the agency’s current position. And they’re adorned with the face of Bernie, the St Bernard who is a key part of the business’ new visual identity and who is rapidly becoming well known in his own right.

All the changes appear to have gone down well, with plenty of positive effects on the pitching front - with Phillips hinting at some recent big wins and pointing to more good news further down the line.

And of course, from a strategic point of view, these changes are all combining to take the business – and its clients – in a new, successful direction.

“We simply want Hodes to be a partner, not a supplier,” says Phillips. “As an agency, we want to be not just an extension of our clients business; we want to take them out of their day jobs through the work that we do and how we do it – and the changes we’re putting in place will help us to do that.”

So, how do key members of the team feel about the way the business is moving?

Dan Kevin, creative director, is clearly excited, and keen to get started under the new strategy. “We’re looking forward to pushing boundaries and being even more creative – and the new premises will help with that,” he says. “We’re in a new phase and we want to keep that momentum moving forward. And most of all, we want to have fun when we’re doing it.”

Craig Barnett, client partner, future talent, adds: “We’ve retained the good parts of Hodes’ heritage and are now in a position to do things in a new way. The changes we’re making are more important internally than externally – clients might not notice a big difference as they’re still getting great work out of us, for example. But breathing new life into the business has helped to inject a new approach into the work we’re doing and it’s great to be part of the new way of delivering things.”

Meanwhile, head of production Neil Cooper is one of the longest-serving team members still at the agency, and in his 19 years has already witnessed numerous changes.

In his view, the new structure and strategy reflects how the wider industry has changed, with a ‘shrinking’ world that calls for multi-skilled team members and increased technical ability. He says: “Hodes has moved away from the fragmented, siloed model; everyone here is able to move in the same direction at the same time. It means we can all band together to drive the work we do – which in turn helps to shape the culture.”

The future looks bright for the team, currently 17-strong but growing. Phillips describes how the creative team has been boosted by the recent appointments of a new graduate-level writer and graduate-level designer – both of whom were hired following an intensive assessment day arranged by the Hodes team.

In addition, there’s been the recent arrival of Zack Young as digital engagement lead, as well as a recent hunt concluded for an associate creative director, who is due to start in April. It’s a team that’s increasing in size and looking to the future with a new way of delivering work for clients.

So, for the agency it’s very much a case of ‘watch this space’ – and not just for the view…

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

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(Showing 1 - 2 of 2)

Kevin Turner Date: Mar 17, 2015

Neil Cooper - 19 years - how have you done it? Best wishes to you all.

Russell Lynch Date: Mar 19, 2015

I remember Coops when he was a Mini Cooper.

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