1576 Advertising RIP


On the 1st of September 1994 David Reid, Adrian Jeffery and myself put the last touch of paint onto the basement wall of our basement home in Tweeddale Court on Edinburgh’s prestigious Royal Mile (we always used Royal Mile in our address because it sounded better than High Street, which was the official postal address). I stood there, resplendent in green and white Y Fronts (I always painted in my Y fronts because it was easier to clean your skin than your trousers) and took a deep breath. This was it. It wasnt a dream or an adventure anymore. It was our livelihood.

At 9.23 the phone rang. Our only client, Spectacles, who one day become 20 20 Opticians.

“Oh Hi John ” I said ” I expect you’re phoning to set up a meeting…”

“No, I’m phoning to fire you.”

I’d never even met him. He was a complete twat as this, and future history (if there is such a thing) went on to prove.

We’d now gone from a prospective income of £12,000 pa to zip; nada; fuck all.

Eight days later Jeana gave birth to our second and third child (the third conception and pregnancy was not some form of record – we had twins).

We were right in the shit then.

Better get some business.

As luck, some would say talent, would have it though we did get some business (Holywood Bowl) and some more (The Blood Transfusion Service) and some more (Smiths Menswear) and some more (Sinclairs Criminal Lawyers) so that by Christmas we had our first six commercials on air. We made a handsome profit in year one and paid off our personal debts. We never drew down the start up capital and things just went from good to better.

One year, I can’t remember exactly when, we had nine nominations at the Scottish Ad Awards and every single one of them won a Gold, meaning that we tied with The Lieth Agency as the top award winners. They were lucky to escape with a tie because we were better.

At times we were cocky bastards. At times we weren’t. (I can’t remember when though.)

But gradually we got bigger and bigger. We won multi-million pound accounts that sucked the energy and, to be honest, the creativity out of us. We became like the establishment that we felt so superior about.

I got bored.

I left in 2003.

But, you know what, those times were, on the whole, the best. I made my bravest, and most foolish, clientesque decisions.

Picture the scene. David and Adrian, having been briefed by me to write a series of commercial virals selling 1576, present me with five scripts with a man dressed up as a six foot penis trying to perform office and day-to-day functions in the guise of a rubbish marketing director (most obscene of all was the penis going for a piss) and I said

“Fabulous, hilarious, it will really stand out!”

It did.

Not for good reasons.

Ruth’s Bar, the Friday night swalley, was a hoot – because it was a “free” night out with your mates – and believe me, 1576 were my mates. Every last bloody one of them.

I loved, really loved, the people I worked with. We all cried when I left. Many of us cried last night too (I’m sure) when we learned that cocky, creative, amazing, get it up ya, 1576 was no more.

A very sad day and my heart goes out to David and all the team that were there at the end.

In an ironic, but wonderful, postscript one of the undoubted heroes of 1576, Mimi, gave birth to a baby girl, her first, yesterday afternoon, almost to the second that 1576 shut its doors for the last time.

Life’s an odd thing is it not?


1/9/94 – 7/2/08

44 thoughts on “1576 Advertising RIP

  1. A sad day indeed. Some brilliant people have passed through the doors of 1576- I’ll always have very fond memories of that journey up to Inverness!! Gill

    They were hilarious. Kraftwerk rock! As the waitress at the restaurant proved. And won me £20!



  2. Yes – sad day indeed.

    Says a lot about the Scottish market when people with real talent and track records hit the wall.

    Best of luck to all finding new success.


  3. Indeed. One always laments the passing of good Agencies even when they’ve lost their way because fuck knows this business is hard work and good guys like David deserve a break.
    Really sorry to hear that.



  4. I go past their door every morning on my way in to work. I always take a peek in. But not this morning. It was incredibly sad to see those impressive doors and the agency they represented, closed when I went past this morning.



  5. Very sad day. Never good to hear of a business closing its doors especially in the creative industry and more so when the staff has great talent.

    Everything happens for a reason they say so, I do hope all concerned focus on the positive opportunities that present themselves. Good luck.



  6. Very sad. At its height 1576 had a very strong and close knit team. And I think that team bond was its real strength. As the team unravelled over the past few years it never seemed to knit itself back together. In the end most of the team just left and although I’m sure David struggled valiantly on, it seems to an onlooker that perhaps the sum was indeed greater than the parts.


  7. I’m sorry to hear this. We had great fun last century shooting campaigns for Direct Holidays and Glenmorangie and the agency really did have an open, exciting, creative culture in those days. Thanks to everyone I worked with @ 1576 for the happy memories and congratulations to Mimi – as one door closes another one opens…


  8. Gill C – I remember the journey back from Inverness better – Mark G mooning you and Barbara from the passenger seat of my car. Some things you just don’t forget.

    And we did some good work, by good people and sometimes for good people

    That moment was class was it not. At the Barnton Roundabout. I thought Babs was gonna have a heart attack. We nearly wet ourselves. It wasn’t particularly grown up of me was it?



  9. It’s a crying shame but Smudge and the others will move on. Hopefully, being talented and a nice person still accounts for a lot.Maybe without a perceived ‘advertising’ axe to grind, he’ll enjoy it more. A good idea is a good idea, is a good idea, after all. He’s good at ideas! Best of luck. I’ll join the queue to buy him a pint when I see him!


  10. It’s always sad to see a good agency go down. I remember some right good work and always enjoyed pitching against 1576. I’ll raise a glass of something to you this evening.


  11. It’s slightly humbling to read these posts and thanks for taking the trouble to write them.

    Telling the staff was hard,but the news was taken with great dignity and sadness.

    1576 was a great company , and did have many fantastic people walk through it’s doors – staff, suppliers and clients alike.

    Although the past nine months or so have been very hard , I’m glad I gave it a go.

    I look forward to receiving these pints I’m reading about.

    Oh and any job offers……. new business, art direction that doesn’t require computers, cleaning, that sort of thing.



    And welcome Poppy to the world!


  12. Sad, very sad. And also scary. At The Union we had an awful start and were always envious of the great start and great work 1576 had/did. It just goes to show that this industry, in Scotland, is particularly gruesome and hard work, and often very unfair. It is not helped by the terrible way we are often treated, and the fact we appear to get passed over in the rush to go to London. 1576 had some incredibly talented people who would not be out of place in the best agencies in the world. Good luck to all 20 people – I’m sure things will work out.


  13. Very sorry to hear. No matter what skills we have or what people we have around us, we do walk a very fine line between success and failure in this industry. And I think every agency head knows what part luck (sometimes lack of it) can play in the way things pan out.


  14. Bugger.

    As a previous client, a previous member of staff and hopefully still considered a friend – i was gutted to read of the demise of 1576.

    At their height, I loved their passion, creativity, ideas and arrogance!

    Give me this unique dynamic anyday to inspire and produce truly fantastic work.

    I was proud to work with them and for them and I look forward to reading of David and his team rising from the ashes!

    What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.
    Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Keep growling Smudge!


  15. I am shocked and feel very sad for David and his team. They did a lot of work for me and it was always fun to work with these guys. I remember when they asked us to fix giant size couches to billboards for the launch of Sky Scottish. I thought they were mad but it worked. It is a reflection on the fragility of the Scottish marketplace when such a talented team can’t carry on. Best wishes to them all and I am sure they will get snapped up by others. David needs to develop some feathers and become a phoenix and rise again.


  16. I’d just like to add my contribution to the rest of the comments here.

    We here at Whitespace owe our existence to Mark, David and Adrian helping us get started – and through the first few years of business. Eleven years on, and a now very different company to how we began, it still brings a smile to my face to think about some of the shenanigans in the basement at Rutland Square – especially the garden parties . . . For all these things, and helping us get going I thank the 3 of you – especially David for coming up with such a great name on the spur of the moment in the pub!

    However, great things do come to an end and if it’s any consolation there’s a great opportunity for some very talented people to get their teeth into something new. All the very best those affected.


  17. David, as someone who has gone through the same agonies that you are experiencing, may I add my best wishes to those on this page (or whatever you call this I’m writing on). I know you’ll be asking yourself “Why?” and trying to think if you could have done something different. Losing something that has been such a big part of your life for so many years is really hard to take. And the more of yourself that you invested in the business, the harder it is now.

    But please put things in perspective. Many years ago sitting in my armchair totally depressed and thinking the same thoughts as you are now, my eight year old came in put his arms around me and said “I love you dad”. I burst into tears and he ran away thinking he’d done something wrong. What he did, with that jesture, was remind me what is important in this life. Family and friends.

    The warmth of the messages on this blog (see I knew what it was) are the things you’ll remember in years to come. Taking the tough decision you’ve taken, is the first step on the road to a new life. Good luck.

    I don’t know about anyone else but that brought a lump to my throat.



  18. I seem to have missed off a sentence at the end of my message (which might have something to do with drinking too much Brains this lunchtime in the valleys).
    So please add….Which is what makes the top agencies really standout. Hic


  19. I’ve been away all day – just got in – and Mike (my husband/ex-1576er/ex partner of David – in the creative sense that is) told me the news. I came to Edinburgh nearly twenty one years ago in search of work. In those days, it was Hall Advertising and Marr Associates that were doing all the tasty stuff outside of London and Manchester. Then came The Leith Agency, Faulds and later 1576. To think that all but one of these now still exist is sad indeed. I, like my co-director Russell, would like to say thanks for helping us get started and the for the early years in Rutland Square. All the best.


    the pleasure was all ours…



  20. ah bums!

    i am gutted, for so many reasons but the big two are:

    1: You lot taught me everything. All of you in very different ways but all of it kept me happy to come to work in the morning and very, very sad when i finally had to leave 1576 (a difficult decision – I even cried – which as you know Mark I never do.)
    2. but mainly because I am not down there to join in all the buying and drinking of drinks that will be going on. (This is also making me cry – I hate to miss an opportunity to get drunk and crap on about the olden days)

    Mark- thankyou for writing such a beautiful and heartfelt entry.
    David – I am thinking about you (but not in a sexual way) and hope i do get to buy you a pint sooner rather than later.

    With love and respect



  21. Very sad to hear the news. I remember well when David, Adrian and Mark first arrived to set up downstairs from The List. Inspiring, brave, brilliant and talented, they grew quickly and moved onwards and upwards producing great work and always full of fun. We missed you when you left the High Street for Rutland Square and we’ll miss you even more now. I send very best wishes to David and all the team. Robin


  22. I was very sorry to hear the news.
    1576 made a big impact and will be missed.
    Talent and hard work always wins through , it just sometimes takes a bit longer than you would like..
    Best wishes and good luck to David and his team as they embark on a new journey.


  23. So sad to see an agency of such standing go down in battle. It feels like a tragic victory for those ‘no-one ever got sacked for buying Microsoft’ clients who don’t appreciate the talent and professionalism on their door step. Great blog Mark- as a mere passer by I will still drink to those closer in and especially to young Poppy.


  24. Posting disgracefully late, I know, especially considering I got the news almost the instant it happened from an ex 1576-er who happened to be conducting a research group in our studio as the event unfolded.

    What can I say? What do you say at times like this? Smudge was the first creative hiring at Leith, hand picked from the best art college talent on offer at the time. I know if Rodge and I hadn’t snapped the bugger up lickety-split, one of at least half a dozen other top Embra shops would have done. By the time those two Johnny-come-latelies, Mark and Adrian, arrived a few years later, Smudge had left much more than his fingerprints (and more than a few squirts of excess Spraymount) across most of our client list, winning recognition and gongs a-plenty for his not inconsiderable creative efforts.

    As for Mark and Adrian, Mark’s reputation for being able to forge unbreakable relationships with his clients has grown large. Nearly as large as his belly. Meanwhile, Adrian’s rep as a conceptual thinker and all-round copywriting guru has mushroomed. Much like his ego. (Sorry, Adrian, I’ve been drinking.)

    Nobody can describe that awful feeling in your guts when some of your best people walk out into the big wide world to mark out their own territory, tomcat like. But inevitably, from a 20/20 hindsight perspective, the resignation of Smudge and Bunter (can’t imagine how Mark attracted that epithet for himself) came as a total surprise. Adrian, of course, had earlier done a bunk to the company known within Leith at that time as the F word. And, it has to be said, gone on to do some of Scotland’s finest creative work. But John, Rodge and myself would have been complete hypocrites had we done anything but wish them anything but the best. Our wishes, it seems, were more than granted.

    The Scottish ad business is nothing if not fragile, as Mr Emslie commented earlier, and as most, if not all of us have experienced at one time or another in our careers. If you think about it, though, sometimes this weakness is our industry’s greatest strength. How many incredibly good things have come out of the very worst moments? Strength in adversity is a phrase than springs to mind right now. Corny as hell, but unerringly relevant at a moment like this.

    Smudge, stick a pint or several onto that fast-growing tab. Yes, it is the end of an era, and we’re all sad because of that. But it’s also a beginning.

    You’ll see.


  25. The Liquidator is going to shut down my internet connection very shortly, so I’ll be brief.

    Thanks again for all the positive comments, they really are quite uplifting. I dont know Jim Marshall at all really , but that was some post. Of course work isn’t the most important thing in life, and having had a great weekend with Alexander and Collette that has been made very apparent.

    Not sure what i’m going to do next, but clearly going to stay in this game.

    If anyone wishes to contact me I think my new email address is going to be davidlloydreid@gmail.com (Anyone who knows me will appreciate my limitations in technology!)

    Anyway – they have arrived.

    Better go!



  26. Working in an agency is Fun and can be hard.
    Running an agency is hard but can be fun.
    The trouble is most people don’t realise how hard.
    My best wishes and thoughts go out to all those who find themselves unemployed and in difficulty.
    If there is any thing Sara and I can do to help
    please get in touch with the IPA office.
    We’re always here to help.


  27. Guy

    Congratulations on your new role at TMP. Actually, I beg to differ. I don’t think you’ll need much help in the creative department, although you may well need some help in the account management department!


  28. Well, even down here in London, the news still filtered through. I’m a big believer in talent, and while it may seem depressing at the moment, the guys who were left at 1576 were talented, loyal and great at their jobs. Those kind of people succeed as David also will. David, as I said in a text on Thursday night, you’re a good soul and I believe in karma. Good luck to you, mate, and if you want a crash course in digital…. ask one of the boys at Blonde!



  29. I was really surprised and sad to hear the news about 1576. I may be crap at staying in touch even with people I like, but I often think of my days in Scotland, and the ones spent with 1576 were happy ones.

    I can honestly say that any shoots I now go to here in Sydney seem downright dull and non- eventful compared to those I went on in Scotland. And I will never, ever forget my first train trip with David up to Inverness (the woman who didn’t belong in first class … the toilet door that wouldn’t quite lock).

    It’s a sad reflection on Scotland’s ad industry that 1576’s doors have closed.


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