Getting Ahead – Rob Hill

What made you want to get into brands/advertising/media/marketing? I didnt want to go down tpit or work on Barnsley market.

Name: Rob Hill

Company: HMA Digital Marketing

Job title: MD

What made you want to get into brands/advertising/media/marketing?
I didn’t want to go down t’pit or work on Barnsley market.

How did you get into the industry (including relevant qualifications and professional training)?
Somehow I managed to get into Central School of Art, London – I think I probably fulfilled the Northern working class quota. Whilst there I got a holiday job producing PMTs (for anyone under 50 – photo mechanical transfers used as positional guides in the days when artwork was pasted onto boards!) in a studio in Covent Garden and they were foolish enough to offer me a job in the design studio when I completed my degree,
BA (Hons) Graphic Design.

What was good and bad about your first job?
My first job in the industry was not so good – spending 12 hours a day in a hot, darkened room with smelly chemicals producing PMTs. I didn’t learn much but I did make a good friend who is still a good friend today.

List your jobs to date.
Sales negotiator – market stall
Toilet seat installer – building site
PMT practitioner – Expression Design
Designer – Expression Design
Creative Director – Jennings
Proprietor – Hill Meyer Design (later Hill Meyer Allen)
MD – HMA Digital Marketing

What were the best and worst, and why?
The best has to be what I am doing now, otherwise why would I be doing it? The worst was a holiday job fixing seats to toilets on a building site, before the water supply had been connected, but after hairy arsed builders had used them!

Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Graham Owen, a tutor on my Foundation Course, was undoubtedly the single person who most influenced my future career. He was fantastically enthusiastic and helped me get my portfolio together and gave me the confidence to apply to a London art school.

Who in the industry do you most admire?
No one in particular.

What is your biggest achievement to date?
Surviving running my own business for 20 years.

On what do you base your success so far?
I think it is the ability to spot the next big thing and find talented people to exploit the opportunity. I was one of the first to take onboard Apple Macs when most of my competitors were not prepared to make the investment. This meant a small design consultancy based in an unfashionable town in Yorkshire was able to take on major branding projects for Burton and provide marketing communications support for other national brands such as Puma, British Airways and Thomson Holidays. Then when the worldwide web was still an unknown quantity I attended every possible seminar on the subject and found someone to train me in multimedia, employed him and set up one of the first ‘new media’ companies in 1995. We partnered with an internet service provider and ran our own training sessions and seminars.

Current success is entirely dependant on the support of a talented, committed team. Digital Marketing requires so many different skill sets there is no way I could survive let alone prosper without the knowledge and capability of the HMA team.

What are your ambitions?
To survive the economic malaise and kayak around all of the British and American Virgin Islands.

Change one thing about your job:
I really thought this would be an easy question to answer because I complain all the time but when I really think about it, there’s nothing significant I would change other than the obvious – more holidays, more money and clients who want to over-indulge me.

Change one thing about your industry:
Put a stop to free pitching.

Change one thing about the world:
Relocate the UK to the Caribbean.

What is your favourite brand?
HMA Digital Marketing

What is the next big thing in your view?

List your “media diet”:
Driving to work – Radio 4 and 5 Live
Yorkshire Post
Driving home – Radio 2


Insurer puts premium on marketing culture

Ruth Mortimer

Seven years ago, Zurich insurance was not a healthy brand. The business had become bloated with expansion and posted first-half losses for 2002 of $2.03bn. The chief executive was axed and in the words of current chief marketing officer Arun Sinha (pictured): “It hit the brakes and was on the edge of a precipice.”


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