Success for AJ and its clients

AJ clients featured time and again among the business winners celebrated this week at the inaugural Express Home and Living Awards.

At a sumptuous lunch for 350 in Covent Garden’s elegant De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, AJ found itself on the podium three times collecting awards for clients; more than any other agency attending the awards ceremony.

AJ’s Ann Gardiner and Jack Gillett

Alongside agency giants such as Mediacom and Mediavest, AJ punched well above its weight positioning its clients successfully in a range of categories. AJ’s well-crafted entries ensured its clients’ top-quality products and services were recognised up against well-known brand names such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer.

AJ’s co-owner and Client Services Director, Ann Gardiner, hosted the agency’s table at the Awards:

“I’m so proud of what AJ and our clients achieved here today. I am pretty sure our table won the most awards, which shows just how well we stack up against larger, London-based agencies.”

David Salisbury triumphed as Best Outdoor Building Supplier.  The judges recognised the company’s unrivalled technical innovation, describing its orangeries and outdoor rooms as ‘top quality, thermally efficient and designed to fit around customers’ lifestyles’.

New AJ client, Dream Doors picked up two awards, taking out the Best Money Saving Product and Best Kitchen Supplier awards.  This is great news for a company looking to improve results, having recently appointed AJ to revive its direct response campaign.  These awards underline its position as a leading supplier of stylish replacement doors, transforming kitchens at an affordable price.

AJ client finalists:

  • Best Money-Saving Product             Kinetico Water Systems
  • Best Money-Saving Product             Dream Doors
  • Best Outdoor Living Furniture          Out & Out Original
  • Best Outdoor Building Supplier        David Salisbury
  • Best Outdoor Building Supplier        Eden Verandas
  • Best Retirement Living Solution      Nationwide Mobility
  • Best Kitchen Supplier                        Dream Doors


The one-stop shop of advertising

The rise of supermarkets heralded the beginning of one-stop shopping.  The benefits of being able to buy food all in one hit were immediately obvious. The same is true for agencies.

Marketing budgets are rarely infinite.  How, where and when they are spent for maximum return are daily choices facing our marketing colleagues.  As we discussed in Media Buying: in-house or agency, deciding to employ outside specialists can bring tangible benefits.  The type of agency can also influence the nature of those benefits.  Full service agencies provide a range of expertise under one roof, including media, creative and digital, rather than offering one without the other(s).

Employing experts within each of the agency’s teams, the saying ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ is not true of full service agencies such as AJ.  To find out more about the skills of our artworkers, take a look at Good things do not always take time, Creative workshops: if it’s broke, fix it and Free isn’t futile.  Examples of our media buying capabilities are found in Making press advertising work, What’s your favourite position? and What’s hot in the heat?

A major disadvantage of using separate agencies is the lack of accountability.  As a full-service agency, AJ is fully accountable for everything it does.  No smoke and mirrors here.  Being located in one office, also means we coordinate creative and media much more easily; efficient communication particularly important in late space buying.

To find out more about how AJ could work for you, contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or

Taking a bold approach

The summer dresses are out in force in our office this week as we enjoy the latest burst of hot weather.  Fans of bold, colourful prints, the female members of the AJ team are thrilled we’ve just been appointed by women’s clothing brand, Mistral.

Offering British-designed casual clothing, Mistral uses prints, colours and styles inspired by the surroundings of the Wiltshire countryside in which their head office is based.

Mistral is in a growth phase, keen to attract new customers, with an eye on their competitors.  White Stuff shoppers, disappointed with the company’s latest styles and lack of prints, are a particular focus.

Mistral’s superb summer range has attracted amazing feedback from customers and they’re ready to shout about it.  AJ has been tasked with drawing in direct sales to their website and driving customers to the almost 20 Mistral stores across the country.  To do this, we’re planning a combination of press, direct mail and inserts.

In true AJ style, we’ll be testing, refining and optimising their media schedule, and can’t wait to begin……

Time to spruce up the garden

According to author, Margaret Atwood, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”  At this time of year, we’re busy preparing our gardens for the summer ahead.  To stay up with the play on the latest trends in garden design, AJ team member, Jack Gillett, visited this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

The Chelsea Flower Show offers inspiration and ideas on creating a look for your garden or outdoor space, however big or small, rural or urban.  Like a fashion show, what’s on display may seem unattainable to the average gardener, but it’s the concepts being displayed which trigger a thought or form the start of a plan.


With unparalleled knowledge and experience in the home improvements market, AJ’s client portfolio includes manufacturers of top quality conservatories, verandas, awnings and garden furniture, such as David Salisbury, Eden Verandas and Out & Out.   How these can blend with a garden is an ever-present element of the world-famous Show.  The BBC/RHS People’s Choice Award winner, the Morgan Stanley Garden, featured a stunning oak and limestone loggia surrounded by formal and informal planting.  It illustrated perfectly the opportunity for synergy between a manmade structure and the natural world.

With this year’s design trends at Chelsea also including water, textured walls, angular paving, copper elements and wall niches, there’s plenty to complement and enhance every garden and outdoor space.

To find out more about our work in the garden and home improvements market, contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or

Supporting charity spins AJ’s wheels

Members of AJ’s team took part in a 10-hour spinathon in central Bath at the weekend helping to raise over £10,000 for Bath’s Royal United Hospital Cardiology Unit.

AJ’s mentor, Rob Walsh, lost his brother unexpectedly from a fatal heart attack a couple of years ago.  His spin teacher lost her father in similar circumstances, leading them to hatch the idea of a spinathon to raise money for the local hospital’s charity, Forever Friends, and the British Heart Foundation.

Now in its second year, the event saw 50 spin bikes set up in the city centre under the direction of a team of spin teachers keeping the cyclists motivated.  AJ sponsored two of the bikes with six of the team taking part.

AJ’s owners, Ann Gardiner and Alice Buttling

“I enjoyed it more than I expected, even if a little uncomfortable by the end,” said New Business Director, Lesley Bowman.  “There was a great atmosphere and it was an invigorating experience,” commented Jack Gillett, Media Executive.  “I believe if you can, you should, so was very happy to sign up and support such a worthy cause.”

Jack Gillett, Media Executive and Lesley Bowman, New Business Director

Event co-organiser, Rob Walsh, said, “The people and instructors who took part were fantastic along with great support from family and friends. Even though it took a lot of organising, it’s all worth it when it’s for charity in memory of Ken and Neil.”

To make a donation:

It’s all about the people

Creative director and industry commentator Dave Trott couldn’t agree more.  “When you choose an agency, you’re not guaranteed a better result because they’ve got more technology and more data.  Your best bet is always people with brains and experience.  It’s never about technology and data, it’s always about people.”

Attinger Jack is not only a leading direct response agency, but also an excellent team of individuals, reflected in the feedback we receive from clients.  “It has been a pleasure working with you over the past 3 years – you are all amazing people.” Sydney Smith, Thomas Sanderson.

Leading the team at AJ are three key people in three key roles.  Media and Managing Director, Alice Buttling is now recognised as one of the best media buyers in the business and an expert at gaining the most for a client with whatever budget is available.  As Client Services Director, Ann Gardiner brought an impressive background running major accounts within established London agencies when she joined Attinger Jack in 2005.  She oversees all account handling and client management.  Tim Blackshaw provides the creative genius to Attinger Jack, leading the artworkers and designers and driving the best direct response creative in the business.

They are also acutely aware their most valuable asset is the team around them and treasure it.  They understand a happy, well-nourished team leads to outstanding work, satisfied clients and business growth.

The Team at AJ is driven to achieve the very best for its clients; whatever it takes is done.  Everybody understands how the AJ business model works and what’s needed to succeed as individuals.

Nurturing talent is an important part of the agency’s culture – a critical factor in building success according to Paul Frampton, chief executive of Havas Media Group, UK & Ireland. “Talent, chemistry and creativity are the lifeblood of success in any agency.  Businesses that genuinely engage and empower their talent have been proven to grow faster.”

If you’d like to work with this committed and talented team of professionals, please call Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or

Quarter one results start the year well

Attinger Jack’s first quarter figures make encouraging reading, giving the agency confidence its results-driven approach is the right one for its clients.

December is traditionally a hard month for DR agencies but AJ has seen increased profit for the second year in a row.  The agency puts this down to valid Christmas offers producing an increased ROI for many clients.  The resulting client confidence has produced increased spend and enabled AJ to do what it does best – grow existing clients’ business.

Large clients continue to be Aquability, Nationwide Mobility, Harrington & Byrne and Serious Readers, with new 2016 client, Cashmere Centre, entering this quarter’s top 10.

A developing area of activity for AJ is inserts.  AJ is working smarter in this area and exploring a variety of related substitutes when it suits the right clients, e.g. wrap throughs and backing boards/carrier sheets.  With a desire to continually test and review, this channel is opening up to offer a wider range of opportunities beyond the traditional.

Solus emails are also being used successfully with clients such as Eden Verandas.  AJ prefers to use publisher-distributed emails, buying a targeted database and supplying creative.  With integrated tracking methodology, click throughs, brochure requests and conversion rates are all monitored closely.  For some clients, this has a marketing percentage of just 5%.

The strength of AJ’s relationship with media owners continues to be an important factor in securing the best media deals, particularly late space offers, an AJ speciality.  The latest example is the new Interiors feature in the Telegraph’s Saturday, launched last week, in which AJ secured three of the nine spaces, including the hero image.

A growing AJ skill is to attract previous clients back to the agency, and as 2017 continues we hope to report back on how and why accounts have returned to us.  This is one of the most satisfying endorsements of a job well done; repeat business.

To find out more about how AJ can grow your business, contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or

Checking In

Complacency is an ever-present threat when agency/client relationships are going well.  To avoid the threat becoming a reality, AJ is regularly checking in with clients.  To supplement our on-going contact with clients, now and again we dig a bit deeper, examining all the elements of our service through a short survey. Here’s what they told us.

Creative and production   

Idea generation, responsiveness, speed, quality and approachability – all factors we asked clients to judge about AJ’s creative and production; all scored over 90%.  The best creative comes when clients allow us to truly understand what they’re trying to achieve, then trust us to create from a blank sheet of paper.

Media planning and buying

The 2017 Global Media Thinking Survey by media consultancy, ID Comms, identified two agency weaknesses as failing to ‘provide insight-driven strategic planning’ and not ‘identifying relevant data-fuelled insight’.  Our clients disagree, scoring AJ around 90% consistently for media planning and buying.  AJ’s planning process ensures results are optimised through testing and refining activity based on interrogating robust data generated from unique codes.  With access to client’s data, AJ can plan effectively and maintain press spend performance, growing return on investment.

Account handling/finance

According to FCB Ulka’s CEO Nitin Karkare a long-lasting client/agency relationship relies on factors going far beyond the hard metrics. He says, “The most important being do you really care for their business? Do you genuinely share their highs and lows? Are you available for them when they really need you?”  AJ prides itself on those ‘soft’ factors and so we should, hitting a perfect 100% on account handling and financial management.

Impact on your business

Karkare also says “Success is the biggest glue in any relationship. Every client wants a business partner who helps them win.” A client/agency relationship is going to be short-lived if the client can’t see tangible results.  AJ needs and wants to make a difference – and it appears we do, averaging 5.6 out of 6 for impact on client business.  Responsive creative, fresh ideas, cost effective media-buying and on-going testing all contribute to an improved ROI.

AJ thrives on client feedback, working hard to convert every 4 or 5 to a 6 (out of 6); we refuse to become complacent.  But don’t take our word for it, have a look at what our clients say about us – including this from one survey respondent:

“As you (probably) expect I’ve given you great scores. Filling it in just reminded me what a great job that you and Alice and your team do for us – without doubt the best supplier I’ve ever worked with – I really appreciate the time and effort (and talent) that you put into looking after us.” 

Richard Read, Serious Readers

On the up

School reports might fill some with dread, but not us.  We’ve received glowing results in Campaign’s School Reports 2017, hitting the top 10 agencies for increased growth.

Finding ourselves among the big boys, comprising agencies with up to 50 times our annual billings, we’ve entered the Top 100 agencies in the UK for the first time.  Unlike many around us in this rarefied atmosphere, we’ve seen year-on-year growth of 110%.

Based in Bath, we also feature in the Top 30 Regional Agencies, a specific list celebrating agencies outside London.  We moved up 5 places this year, and grabbed a podium spot for business growth.

These are exciting results for a full service Direct Response specialist agency, and reflect the hard work and dedication of the whole AJ team.  To find out more, contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or

Homing pigeons – new staff come home to roost

Attinger Jack begins 2017 with a full team having recruited into key positions and taken on extra resource to cover a growing workload. Three of the four new staff members have returned to the UK from all points of the compass, bringing valuable insights from their experiences abroad.

Hannah West – Media Manager

Hannah joins Attinger Jack with a background in marketing and media from UK and Australian markets.  She brings an array of experience from building successful acquisition strategies for many direct response clients over the years.  Having loved her five years in Australia, Hannah has now swapped flip flops for wellies.  She enjoys country walks, sunny bike rides and yoga, although still looks forward to planning the next adventure to somewhere hot.

Billie Arnold – Production Co-ordinator

Bath Spa University brought Billie Arnold to Bath from Gloucester in 2012.  After completing a year of a Fine Art degree, Billie transferred to do Graphic Communications, including a year studying History of Animation at the College of Columbia in Chicago.  Billie returned to Bath last year graduating with a 2:1, while also maintaining a successful job at GAP.  Now living in Bristol, Billie is enjoying her first taste of office life.  And much to the delight of her new colleagues, being a keen baker, Billie is a willing participant in the office Bake Off ventures.

Jamie Home – Media Executive

Having grown up in the Bath area, Jamie Home leapt at the opportunity to work close to home with Attinger Jack.  As a Media Executive, Jamie’s responsibilities include looking after TV advertising through BRTV and assisting the media team with the planning/buying process.  Jamie brings useful skills from a background in customer service, and, like Billie, is relishing being in a new environment called an office.

Jamie is a huge music fan and studied Audio Engineering at SAE in Liverpool.  Aged 10, his vinyl album collection started with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Led Zeppelin’s self titled; reportedly his father’s proudest moment. Jamie considers his buying Sean Paul’s Dutty Rock album on the same day far less cool.

Fiona Carruthers – Media Executive

Although a West Country girl originally, Fiona Carruthers joins AJ having returned home after 15 years in New Zealand.  Fiona’s background in marketing and communications, makes her well positioned to provide in-house PR and communications support to an agency with a good deal to shout about.  With expertise in tailoring communications to key target audiences, Fiona is enjoying working with a completely new range of clients – a far cry from her early days in nutrition.

When not at AJ, Fiona can be seen running or cycling around the trails, having developed a passion for off-road running in the mountains of southern New Zealand.

To discover more about the team at AJ and what we can do for you, contact Alice Buttling-Smith or Ann Gardiner on 01225 758222 or email or