isobel: Inside London's Most Creative Agency

This week, we had the pleasure of speaking with the team at isobel, an award-winning creative agency from London. We got to learn more about their agency and see some of their incredible brand work. Check out our interview below!

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The isobel team in bobblehead form for last year’s annual Christmas card

When was isobel started? How did the idea for the agency come about?

isobel was born in 2003 when four of us left our previous agency to search for fame and fortune on our own. We had worked very well together for some time and just wanted to try things our way.

Paul Houlding, CEO

What kinds of creative work do you guys do? Would you say isobel has a particular specialty?

We’re very good at creating brand strategy for clients, expressed in a human real way. A strong, unique thought that spans across all channels.

Rob Fletcher, Executive Creative Director

What is isobel’s philosophy when it comes to the creative work you guys do? Is there a mantra you guys live by?

We don’t create any work until we have a strong proposition. Simple, understandable, unique, and a huge differentiator from other brands in the category.

We aim to create work that will never be ignored and makes people feel something. Work that injects an energy into the brand.

Rob Fletcher, Executive Creative Director

How would you describe the office culture at isobel?

Culture has always been a key part of what makes isobel special. We like to do things differently, unexpectedly, and be creatively provocative wherever we can. It makes life more interesting and more fun. And I think this is why our agency tends to be full of curious minded people. 

So rather than do networking events, we host a regular stand-up comedy night- isobelly laughs. Rather than do formal internships we run a full-scale Apprentice style Summer School.  And rather than just wish everyone a standard Merry Christmas, we all get dressed up for a day, in a different theme each year, and shoot a Christmas card for real.

Jamie Williams, Managing Partner

isobelly laughs

isobel's summer school programme

What inspires you guys at isobel?

Each other. We constantly talk to each other, everyone in the agency has a voice. Human behaviour is fascinating. It’s the differences and similarities between people that excites us and inspires us to create ideas.

Rob Fletcher, Executive Creative Director

When you guys are starting a new campaign with a client, what’s the biggest challenge you face?

A key challenge is getting a clear understanding of the issue we’re trying to solve through comms. Often, clients know where they want to get to, but not what’s preventing them from getting there.

To tease this out, we work together to define the ‘enemy,’ the thing getting in the way of their success. Is it a key competitor? A consumer perception? A behaviour? Only by defining this can we start to plan meaningful comms.

Sarah Sandford, Planning Director

What are some of the most memorable campaigns you’ve worked on?

In terms of our most memorable campaigns, I personally loved our Rate Beer campaign for BrewDog, because it created so much genuine debate with consumers.

I also loved our work for Kelly’s of Cornwall ice cream, which included the first ever TV ad in the Cornish language.  Effectively, nobody in the UK understands Cornish, but consumers still took everything from the ad we wanted, and it became a proper news story, covered by every major news channel.

Jamie Williams, Managing Partner

What is a normal day like at Isobel?

I wouldn’t say there is a normal day at isobel, but mostly, our days involve lots of conversations. We think we’re best when we work together– planners, creatives, and account handlers– so we gather around a (virtual) table as much as we can.

Sarah Sandford, Planning Director

What’s the best part about working at isobel?

Every day is different. Working at a smaller agency means that our teams have to be nimble. You can go from one day working on a full TV production to another day creating an influencer strategy. This allows our day-to-day responsibilities to be changing and keeps every day interesting!

Maggie Sylvester, Account Director

What is the future of isobel? Where do you guys see the company going in the next 5-10 years?

We are, and always have been, an agency that uses the power of creativity to supercharge brands. No matter how the industry has changed over the years and no matter how it will change in the future, this will be at the heart of what we do. 

In 5-10 years? We hope the agency will be as profitable and as enjoyable as it is today.

Paul Houlding, CEO

Still taken from isobel’s campaign with Jet “Keep on Moving”

"Do You Almond?” campaign for the Almond Board of California

isobel and BrewDog taking on the establishment

isobel’s gaming campaign for Old Spice using their cult hero “The Man You Could Smell Like”

Always a good time at “isobelly laughs”

Do Christmas cards get more epic than this??

isobel in an independent, award-winning creative agency based in London. The team at isobel supercharges brands by injecting them with an infectious energy in order to find a purpose and voice. If you’d like to learn more about them and see more of their work, you can check out their website isobel.com or visit them on Instagram @isobelcreative.

Isobel

The world is full of sensible brands doing sensible things that nobody ever notices. We’re here to inject brands with an infectious energy. We help them find their purpose and voice. We supercharge them. SHORTLISTED CAMPAIGN INDEPENDENT AGENCY OF THE YEAR.