Interview with Cat Summers

Guy & Co

Tell us about yourself. How did you end up in your current role?

I started out as a lost and confused geography graduate, who stumbled into a work placement at The Union only ever intended to give me ‘office experience’ for an internship year in the US. A career in advertising or marketing had never occurred to me, in fact, I had no idea what it was all about! But agency account handling proved a good way to bring together my academic and creative sides (as well as satisfying my pedantic need for process), and I quickly realised I’d be stupid to give up a foot in the door of a competitive and exciting industry. Fast forward 14 years of agency life, and I’ve been fortunate to spend 6 of them helping to shape a new breed of creative & research agency, Guy & Co, with founder David Guy. It’s been an exhilarating journey – wearing lots of hats, spinning lots of plates, and I wouldn’t change my role or team for anything.

What brands are you most impressed by at the moment? Any campaigns which have particularly caught your eye?

I’m a bit of a drinks marketing geek these days, and one brand that I always come quote is Fever Tree: ‘If ¾ of your drink is the mixer, mix with the best.’ A simple truth, a confident brand positioning, perfectly executed across their campaigns – and no doubt a driver of their phenomenal growth.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry?

I don’t think you have to look far afield to be inspired by homegrown marketing talent in Scotland. She’ll hate me for this, but my good friend, and former colleague at The Union and Billington Cartmell, Fiona Burton, is a big inspiration to me. Now Chair of Marketing Society Scotland and Client Partner at The Leith Agency, she’s the first woman on their Board and doing great things for shifting the dial on diversity in our industry – plus she’s an all-round big marketing brain and great leader. Another former colleague from The Union, and great friend doing great things in Scotland, is Pauline Aylesbury, Deputy Director of Marketing, Insight & Corporate Communications at The Scottish Government. The behaviour change campaigns they are delivering are truly world class under her leadership.

It makes me really proud seeing where these and other ‘former pupils’ have ended up and how they’re truly making their mark in the industry.

The one campaign you are most proud of during your time with your organisation?

I’m really proud of the ‘Do the Albert Bartlett’ campaign we launched for our potato client last Christmas. We’ve been working with them since 2011 (so we really know our spuds these days!), but had been on the sidelines doing digital and shopper until we finally had a chance to pitch for the brand and advertising role last year. After a legacy of using high-brow TV chefs, we had a clean sheet to look at the brand strategy – one which would bring in younger consumers and families, and drive a more everyday premium positioning. Consumer research gave us confidence to push into a brave and vibrant new space, and after wrestling with negotiations with Universal and Warner Music, we licensed the James Brown classic, ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag’ to help cement our feelgood, big brand credentials. For me, it’s all about building a relationship with great clients that trust us to help take their brand to the next level.


What's on the horizon for you professionally - and personally if you’d like to share?

I’m really excited about the chapter that awaits as we emerge from lockdown. The creativity and camaraderie between our team and clients has really made me proud, and that’s going to be great to build on. Before corona stopped play we were on a bit of a winning streak, and had just won a big innovation pitch for Britvic, so I can’t wait for projects like that to mobilise.

It’s also made me realise how much I love the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh city centre, and having been quarantined in the sleepy suburbs of Cramond, I can’t wait to get back to the office – and back to Friday drinks at our agency bar!

Cat is part of the Agency team at this year's Creative Challenge Clients v Agencies at our Amplify Virtual Festival on Friday 28 August.