Philip Chin, CEO, Langland
Philip Chin, Chief Executive, Langland
Founded by Philip and Joanna Chin 21 years ago, Langland has enjoyed phenomenal success at the PM Society Advertising Awards, taking home 18 individual awards in the last three years alone. As the agency head into the 2012 Awards with a staggering 24 nominations, we spoke to their Chief Executive Philip Chin about the drivers behind their creative success.

Healthy side effects

"The Awards are a great opportunity for us to showcase creative work that actually demonstrates effectiveness, to the rest of the industry. We're delighted with our nominations but, more importantly, we're delighted with the success the work has brought to our clients - awards are just a healthy side effect."
Despite global success, Philip admits he still gets nervous on the day. “Even if you've got lots of nominations, you never know what's going to win." He singles out projects for Bayer and Abbott as examples of stand-out Langland work on this year’s shortlist.
"Our latest campaign for Sativex builds on our award-winning launch work, with a brief to deepen the story and communicate the true costs of spasticity in multiple sclerosis. It’s very strong, truthful work that we’re immensely proud of. It also sets an agenda for future communication with its 'Independent thinking' tagline."
"The other piece of work which stands out for us this year is the Abbott Nutrition portfolio campaign. We were invited in to launch a particular brand, and ended up recommending a company-wide re-brand. I hope that's a demonstration of an agency adding value: seeing what's needed from a communications perspective, and giving recommendations based on sound insight.

Go beyond the brief

Sativex (teacup) for Bayer by Langland
Sativex by Langland for Bayer
"Nowadays, you have to go beyond the brief. I think our job as an agency is to provide guidance on communication strategy wherever possible, and sometimes that's not just related to the brand the client is asking us to look at."
Philip emphasises the importance of collaborating with clients. "Nothing is done in isolation. You have to work very closely, so you understand their needs and produce solutions that meet them. You can have all the innovation in the world, but if somebody isn't going to buy it there's no point in creating it."
Langland is proud to be at the forefront of raising standards of creativity in healthcare communications. "I think healthcare advertising is behind consumer advertising in terms of quality, but there are a few agencies now that are working hard to change that. I hope Langland is doing something to catalyse a passion behind what creativity can do."

It may have the client's logo on it, but it's got our name in invisible ink

Appetite for Life by Langland for Abbott Nutrition
Appetite for Life by Langland for Abbott Nutrition
"I do get a sense sometimes in the industry that it's easier just to do what's easy, rather than what's right. Some agencies will say 'oh, the clients won't let me do work that's any different'. Well, go and find new clients. Don't create work that you're not going to be proud of. The old adage is true: don't put work in front of a client if you're not going to be happy to make it. One of my sayings is "it may have the client's logo on it, but it's got our name in invisible ink".
Despite the Langland emphasis on creativity, for Philip commercial effectiveness is the key outcome. "We get commissioned by marketers to ensure their brands are differentiated from other brands. Our measure of growth and repeat business is determined by whether or not we're delivering what they want in terms of effectiveness and results. Sales, market share, market expansion… Whatever the KPI is, it's related to commercial performance."
After 21 years, Philip puts Langland's success down to a focus on the creative work and working with great people. "We've managed our growth and our reputation carefully, and I think that's borne out by the good relationships we've built with clients. But ultimately, the key to all this is having exceptional people. The work is not engineered out of a machine: an agency is only as good as its people."
Langland is a committed Advertising Awards sponsor. "We're delighted to be sponsors at this year's Awards show. I think it's more difficult for the Awards committee to produce something that is interesting than it is for us to create interesting ads. I'd prefer to have a blank sheet of paper with my team and write an ad, than to come up with the magic formula that's going to get 1200 people or more into the Great Room. Hats off to Neil and Viv for that."