Scottish businessman and advertising legend, John Denholm, has taken over the post of Ambergreen Chairman from Derek Gordon. This news comes at the end of a year during which Ambergreen has continued to challenge the limits of internet marketing and explore new applications of search, working with some of the most exciting and innovative online brands in the world including Electronic Arts (EA) Games, National Australia Group, Thomas Cook and Talk Talk.

In a career spanning three decades, Denholm is undeniably one of the best known faces in Scottish advertising. Starting out in marketing management with Boots and Scottish & Newcastle he jumped the fence when he joined Hall Advertising before launching his own ad agency in 1984, The Leith Agency. The Leith Agency, part of the Cello Group, is the most successful agency in Scotland.

Today Denholm retains a non-executive post with the Leith Agency and is MD of Denholm Associates where he is focused on developing Scotland’s fastest growing recruitment agency.

Ambergreen was an early pioneer of search marketing, clearly understanding the powerful potential of this fledgling industry and securing its position at the cutting edge.

Ambergreen has always been regarded as the intellectual powerhouse of search. The agency applies marketing and business planning principles to identify the needs and goals of a company. And parallel to that, it conducts rigorous market analysis to precisely understand its client’s market so it can create a tailored market beating strategy.

Firmly in possession of the intellectual firepower needed, Tino Nombro and Grant Whiteside, co-founders of Ambergreen, are widely respected as top players in the intelligent application of search marketing.

Denholm has been invited to join Ambergreen at a time when the search marketing sector is polarising into two camps. With a pile ‘em high, sell ‘em low approach on the one hand and sophisticated strategy underpinned with academic, technical rigour on the other.

The rapid growth of the sector has attracted the big media buying conglomerates. Bulldozing into search they offer a basic, unsophisticated and clumsy service that does not deliver value.

It is critical that Ambergreen distance itself from the ‘shiny suited’ ad salesmen and sustain their status as a high calibre specialist agency, trusted advisers offering expert counsel.

Denholm explains: “Search is following a similar path to that of advertising, with the big media buyers simply trading on the fact they are big and can throw technology at a campaign. In the highly complex and constantly changing sphere of search, it is vital that agencies have the talent and skill to help clients. Trusted advisers as opposed to volume dealers.”

Until now search has been about technology and algorithms. The last few years has seen a paradigm shift and today the long term success of any search agency lies in its understanding of how brands work online and offline.

Ambergreen blows away the smoke and mirrors of search by speaking in plain English and explaining complicated concepts in clear and simple language. Search has come from nowhere in a very short space of time and continues to evolve at the speed of light. This has left companies confused and so prey to proposals that don’t deliver value. At a time like this a company that is knowledgeable, trustworthy and honest is worth its weight in gold.

Denholm continues: “Again this reminds me of media buyers who bamboozle clients with talk of coverage frequency and TVRs. All of which is quite interesting but not hugely important in terms of brand building.

“I am intrigued by Ambergreen because they specialise in creating order out of chaos. By explaining in clear and simple terms the exact return on investment search marketing will deliver they translate the language of search into useful brand building advice. Having been on the client and agency side I know the difference between bullsh*t and a grown up, intelligent, plain speaking approach to business.”

Denholm has been brought in to provide new eyes to the business as well as his years of experience in traditional and new media marketing. Ambergreen’s efforts have always been fixed on the client and getting results for the client. This means that while today Ambergreen is not the biggest UK search agency it has built a lasting brand, one that will survive changes and turbulence in the market.

Denholm brings a fresh perspective that will allow the company to grow, while still providing the high quality of service it is known for. With The Leith Agency and Denholm Associates, Denholm has demonstrated a successful track record of growing successful businesses. He now aims to achieve the same for Ambergreen and to grow it into a world class search agency.

Denholm concludes: “They are the good guys: smart, straight forward, honest and the best at what they do. Their clients trust them because they deliver what they promise. They are the intellectuals of search.”


Sarah Lee

Published on: 12:00AM on 15th January 2008