Boss plans to turn disused shop in Leeds into creative hub to boost charity after coronavirus pandemic ends

The boss of a marketing agency plans to sell creative ideas for charity from a disused shop after the coronavirus pandemic has passed.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 5:36 am
Julian Gratton

Julian Gratton, the newly appointed managing partner at creative marketing agency OTB, is keen to play a major role in attracting talented workers to Leeds. He is also committed to carrying out philanthropic work across the city, as it recovers from the pandemic.

Mr Gratton said: "I went homeless for 24 hours as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the issue. I slept in a car park, I was spat on and had pound coins thrown at my head. I did this to raise awareness of the Mustard Tree, a charity that works with homeless people.

"OTB hopes to open one of the empty shops in Leeds and provide ideas in return for a donation to charity."

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OTB's idea is to open a creative department in the window of a disused shop in Leeds city centre later this year.

The creative department will be open for eight days and will raise money for the charity MAP (Music & Arts Production) which supports the next generation of creative professionals, by creating ideas in return for donations. It's anticipated that the firm's marketing services will be sold to business leader who need advice about marketing in return for a donation.

Mr Grattton has more than 20 years' experience in the advertising and marketing industry. He was previously the group creative director for the APS Group and started his career at Leeds-based Poulters, where he worked on campaigns for clients that included McCains, Morrisons, Fox's, Sharps Electronics and The Vegetarian Society across TV, radio and other formats.

Mr Gratton said he was delighted to join OTB: "Their down to earth attitude and their warmth made me feel welcome straight away. They are a plain-spoken, straightforward creative marketing agency that delivers award-winning work for a client base that most agencies could only dream of."

He added: "I have a massive belief in bringing young people into the industry. OTB has a track record of nurturing and developing talent – some of our staff joined more than 20 years ago."

Mr Gratton has also established School of Thought, an organisation that aims to find 12 young people and bring them into the industry by giving them exposure to the best advertising, PR and design agencies in Leeds over a 12-week period.

The winner of the programme receives an all expenses paid trip to the Cannes Advertising Festival.

Mr Gratton added: "All participants will have their efforts exposed to 12 of the region’s top creative directors – so it enhances their chance of getting a dream job in advertising.

"I feel it's becoming easier to attract young people to Leeds because of the strong ties OTB has to universities, such as Leeds Beckett."

He said OTB's diverse range of clients will provide a sound base as the economy recovers after the coronavirus pandemic. OTB has 15 staff and it expects to increase this number to 30 soon.

He added: "OTB’s client base is international so we are used to working at strange hours of the day and using technology as much as face to face meetings. Over the last three years overseas sales have grown by 560 per cent with the percentage exported rising from 22 per cent to 52 per cent.

" I believe the pandemic will change the way we all work forever; change will come in many forms – but one thing that will remain is OTB’s focus on supporting our clients.

"Coming out of this challenging period what our clients need from us most is to focus on building their businesses. That’s what we will do."