Fantastic Media was founded by successful serial entrepreneur Andrew Hobson in 2006 to offer something different to the region’s businesses.
He believed things could be done better. He wanted to cut through the jargon peddled by marketing companies in the mid-noughties and create an agency that could deliver on its promise of transformative business results.
Built on the principles of People, Results, Value, he established one of the region’s first integrated marketing agencies, Fantastic Media. Complete with distinctive bright red branding synonymous with revolutions, Fantastic was hell-bent on changing the industry.
“I firmly believed that with Fantastic I was creating something different,” said Andrew, who set up his first marketing company Atom, when he was 25-years-old. “I felt there was something missing from marketing. I was running a business, so I was able to put myself in a business owner’s shoes and I began to ask myself – where’s the value?
“When I set up Fantastic I wanted a company focussed on the people we were working with, and ultimately the results we could deliver and the value we could bring to them. Nowadays, everything is results driven so it’s commonplace, but 10 years ago it was pretty radical.”
Few decades could have been as turbulent and unpredictable for marketing as the last. In 2006, Apple’s first iPhone was still in the planning stages and social media was not yet a buzz word. Facebook only existed in colleges and Universities, and tweeting was something only birds did.
There was also a global financial meltdown less than two years away. Marketing budgets evaporated as businesses either tightened their belts or went to the wall.
“Apparently, 96% of businesses fail in the first ten years,” added Andrew. “That statistic doesn’t take into account marketing companies founded two years before the worst financial crash in almost a century. Many more established agencies didn’t make it through the worst of it, so I’m incredibly proud that Fantastic is part of the 4%.
“The recession was tough for many businesses, but we were able to demonstrate ROI for businesses owners and directors so we became a safe pair of hands for those still looking to actively market their business. That built our reputation as an agency that offers value and results and that’s what I set out to do.
“Every client we have worked with knows why we did something and what the results were. Whether it was a complete company rebrand, a TV advertising campaign or a single email newsletter, our results speak for themselves. We will continue to be judged on them and we’re fine with that.”
It’s not all been plain sailing for Andy, but success was never in doubt. After launching his professional career working in marketing at sports agency, SFX – where he worked with stars such as David Beckham, Alan Shearer and Dwight Yorke – he took a simple lesson into the rest of his working life.
“It’s all about relationships. I’ve always worked with people and understanding the value of relationships was one of the first things I learned,” he said. “Relationships are at the core of what we do at Fantastic. I choose my staff carefully for their expertise in marketing, capacity to make sound business decisions and, just as importantly, for their ability to get on with other people.
“Since 2006, the progression of the digital space, the ubiquitousness of social media, and the innovation of personal devices has not just changed how we do business, but how we live our lives. At Fantastic we have embraced these changes and become experts in them, but they are business tools, not the be-all and end-all of business. Business, for us, is making a personal connection, not just a digital one.”
This simple but effective premise has seen Fantastic work with a raft of high profile brands including: Card Factory, House Of Fraser, Adidas, Bon Marche, Dale Carnegie, Overfinch, Actavo, Skopes, Pitchero, Avocet, Chadwick Lawrence and the Professional Footballers Association; and sports personalities and clubs including: Steph Houghton, Theo Walcott, James Milner, Andrew Gale, Huddersfield Town, Leeds United, Sunderland, Sheffield United, and Barnsley.
Creative campaigns and making a real difference to a company’s bottom line is what has set Fantastic apart. It’s also what has won them numerous accolades including being named as the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Northern Agency of the Year in 2014 and listed as one of The Drum’s Top 100 Digital Agencies.
Fantastic employs 25 of the brightest young people in the industry and continues to grow, showing an 18% uplift in new business for Q1 compared with last year – the highest revenue in any quarter since business was established.
So what does the next ten years hold for Fantastic?
“For the past 10 years, our INSIGHT analysis has helped us understand retailers, manufacturers, distributors, innovators and consumers,” added Andy. “This has enabled us to deliver results to clients by being creative, diligent and above all, honest.
“We are delighted by what we have achieved, but we still have a long way to go. We are proud to be one of the most successful and established agencies in the north of England. We are also one of the most decorated, but we will never rest on our laurels.
“We will add more experts to our marketing divisions so that we can continue to deliver industry-leading services to our clients. We will grow, adapt and learn, and we will do this, as we have always done, on sound business principles.”