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Why the agency model needs to adapt for challenging times

As BBC Creative’s Tim Jones and James Cross join forces with Chapter MD Alastair Marchant on new agency Meanwhile, they discuss how in-house life prepared them for launching a business during a recession

For many creatives, landing the top job at BBC Creative would be a dream career move. For Tim Jones and James Cross, who joined the Beeb’s in-house agency as creative directors in 2017, the role has enabled them to create some truly brilliant pieces of advertising – from a seven-metre tapestry for the broadcaster’s 2018 World Cup animated trailer through to its action-packed Tokyo Olympics campaign, for which they received a BAFTA.

Not ones to rest on their laurels, the creative directors recently announced that they were stepping out on their own after five years at the helm. “I think we achieved everything we wanted to achieve,” Cross tells CR. “We felt like once we’d done the rebrand of BBC One, that was always the pinnacle. But that said, Tim and I have been talking about starting an agency probably since we first got together in 2007. It’s the ultimate creative brief in many ways.”

Meanwhile reunites the duo, who are the agency’s joint-CCOs, with former Chapter managing director Alastair Marchant as CEO – the founders first met over 15 years ago as juniors at Big agency. They believe that their collective experience working at big network agencies such as McCann, mid-sized operations like Chapter, and in-house at a public service broadcaster gives them a unique perspective on the advertising industry model. “Now we’re setting up our own agency, we can take all of that experience and cherry pick the best bits,” says Jones.

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Bez with Meanwhile’s founders (from left) James Cross, Alastair Marchant, Tim Jones