It was almost eighteen months ago when Ken re-kindled a working relationship with Chris (Managing Director at Marsden Direct Group) and Nick (Creative Sales Director at Luga Baruga). Nick called Ken and asked if he could work on a Luga Baruga client project. Six months later, Ken joined Marsden Direct Group to support on the commercial side of the business – business development, marketing, sales and client liaison. But their working relationship goes back almost twenty-five years. Chris and Ken first met and shook hands at a briefing meeting for a nuclear medicine company that had recently gone through a Norwegian/British merger. Ken and his team created an interim brand campaign to communicate the merger. Chris and his team (that included a very young Nick Lovett) delivered the campaign through numerous high profile exhibitions and events across Europe. The success of the campaign led to the relationship expanding. Within a few years, they provided blue chip clients with ‘best in class’ exhibition installations, roadshows, events, retail solutions and direct mail campaigns from the arctic circle to the mediterranean. The diversity of their work included managing the window scheme of ninety-plus stores in the UK – model hire, location sourcing, photography, re-touching, graphic production, packaging and logistics – that changed every two weeks; a pan-European winter roadshow from Scandinavia to Geneva; exhibitions and fashion shows for a high fashion shoe brand – London, Milan, Paris and… Dusseldorf; a complex high value direct mail campaign that snared senior players at the likes of Tesco, Barclays and GSK for a world leading telecommunications company; branding a football stadium for an internet provider… to name but a few!
Ken described this period in his career as, “the nearest you can get to a Rock’n’Roll lifestyle without the music. We have some great stories to tell from this period”.
About twenty years ago, Ken had a career change; moved into sport; led or was a senior management team member in British, European, global and professional sports organisations – splitting his time between the UK and the USA. Nick developed his career in retail solutions working with some of the great brands we are all familiar with like M&S, Arcadia Group, Diesel, Ralph Lauren and Nike. Chris merged businesses to create Marsden Direct Group and provided an extensive product and service portfolio to a wide range of customers. There have been some touch points during these years. Nick introduced Martyn (now, Client Liaison Director at Luga Baruga) to Ken in 2010/11. They worked together developing a new business – and Nick rejoined Chris in 2015 and founded Luga Baruga in 2019.
Ken describes his year at Marsden Direct Group. “It was the pandemic that gave the exhibitions business time to reflect on what it was really good at and return to market as specialists in their respective fields. I joined in April 2021 and delivered workshops with the team to establish brand values, propositions, culture and behaviour, routes to market etc. It was during one of these workshops, the company mantra, “Creative, Innovative Excellence” fell from Chris’s mouth and extensive research into the marketplace identified that the all new ‘Marsden Exhibitions’ could steal a march on the competition if they undertook digital marketing as opposed to the traditional activity that had served them well for many years. Over the next six months, new brand identities, platforms and content were created; target sectors, companies and individuals were identified – and since October of last year, we have undertaken some pilot campaigns and the results have been very encouraging!”.
Ken continued, “For Marsden Exhibitions, 2022/Q1 has proven to be the most successful in company history (more news on this topic in this in the next few days); we are working at a higher level with new international clients across the UK, Europe and middle east; and the team is growing – we are investing in talent! Luga Baruga continues to grow exponentially – evolving into a 360° agency. It too is investing in talent and growing the team (more news in the next few days too); and we are now being retained by clients to provide our services. EXPO Services is a little behind the curve as we have been searching for the right talent to drive the business forward. But the business exists and already significantly contributes to the growth of the ‘group’”.
With regards to the future, Ken elaborates, “In the last year, Marsden Exhibitions has been thoroughly examined. A more cohesive relationship between finance, operations and marketing is being forged and our ducks are getting in a row for the ‘five-year high growth plan’ that commences in August (the start of our financial year). Luga Baruga is a few months behind this same process. Largely because, I only began working with them in September – and, it’s been all hands to the pumps as we work on some groundbreaking projects across Europe and, more recently, the USA with some great clients. With regards to EXPO Services, we are still very much at the consultative stage – but, it will be online soon – completing the first stage of Marsden Direct Group as a ‘marketing communications group’. We can then focus on a high growth programme across all the businesses and realise our goals. More news on these will be announced later in the year!”.