Interview with Andrew Glidden

MD and Creative Director, Glidden Design


What has been your agency's best work in the last year?

Ah, such an impossible one to answer – I would like to think that is a question for our clients, and of course their audiences. From my own perspective, I think the best work comes from the projects where the whole team, client included, are all aligned in the overall objectives and there is transparency, mutual respect and freedom between all parties to do their individual jobs to the best of their ability. Like any good sports team, you have to have trust in your colleagues, and appreciate that you need to work together as an effective unit to produce results greater than the sum of its parts. From many decades of working in design and branding, I firmly believe that the one constant is this - you need a great client to do great work.

What happens when you have a client you don’t like or who is unscrupulous, who offers you a lot of money? Do you still take the job? Why or why not?

Killer question! Certainly everyone probably has their price, and knowing that there is a decent budget can certainly help to ‘smooth over’ minor awkward relationship issues, however, no amount of money would make me turn a blind eye to unscrupulous clients. It is a deeply ingrained trait in my character to just want everyone to be treated fairly – personally, professionally and in wider society. Luckily, I am at an age and stage in life where I am quite prepared to walk away from work that deviates from the direction set by my moral compass, which actually feels very liberating!

What do you think are going to be the main challenges for agencies in the next two years?

I could probably give you the same answer to the same question asked 10, 20 or 30 years ago, and no doubt if you ask that question in 10, 20 or 30 years hence. At the end of the day, we are in a commercial world – nothing stands still. Technology, trends and tastes come and go, but to be successful, you have to make the business function and be profitable. Creativity is important, but there must be a strong hand on the underlying business operation – finding a sufficient stream of good clients with inspiring project requirements, decent budgets and realistic timeframes is the fuel that keeps the business ‘machine’ running, whether you are a one-person band or a multinational agency with thousands of employees. Run out of fuel, or use the wrong fuel, and the machine stutters to a halt!

You’ve worked with some brilliant brands. What has been your stand out favourite campaign to work on and why?

Without doubt, working on the rebrand of Cathay Pacific Airlines whilst working with Landor Associates on the mid-1990s is my personal career highlight to date – I started the project based in London – it took around three-and-a-half years start to finish – I relocated to Hong Kong for two years mid-project to be based in Landor’s Hong Kong office to work on the implementation of the brand. This covered everything from tiny details, such as designing tooth picks to go on meal trays, to designing the First Class and Business Class lounges in Hong Kong’s Kai Tak airport. I still feel very lucky and proud to have been a small part of a great team when I see the Cathay Pacific ‘Brushwing’ on the tailfins of the planes, still around today.

What’s involved during a typical day for you in your role as Creative Director?

My role straddles both Managing Director and Creative Director, so whilst part of my day is spend on operational business aspects, my Creative Director role stretches quite widely. From meeting with new prospects to find out what their needs might be and how we may be able to help them, through developing strategy with new clients to make sure there is a clear platform on which to build their brand, reviewing conceptual ideas that are gestating in the studio and making sure they align with the project objectives; reviewing and refining creative work that is in implementation stage to meeting existing clients and presenting work whilst looking for new opportunities with them. I also like attending events and talking about the world of design, branding and communications, and how businesses can gain a competitive advantage with a properly-developed brand that has authenticity, clarity and purpose.


Catch Andrew at our Industry Insights event with AdSmart from Sky: The Power of TV - December 5, Edinburgh. Find out more.