Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Creatively speaking: Claire Beale on her new venture The Creative Salon

NDA speaks to former Campaign editor Claire Beale about her new venture, which aims to support and showcase what makes the advertising and marketing industries such powerful levers of growth.

It was the end of an era. But when Claire Beale left industry magazine Campaign after more than 20 years it was not by choice.

The former editor was a casualty of Covid-19 – her international role was made redundant in a restructure, yet now she couldn’t be happier about the opportunities ahead. Beale is one of the co-founders of consultancy The Creative Salon, which will bring to life her decades analysing the industry.

It is part members-only website, part physical salon and part advisory and training service for marketers and agencies. The business has pledged “at least 10% of our profits every year to organisations that are helping to nurture the next generation of diverse talent”.

But for the pandemic, she might never have left Haymarket “I really, really loved my job. I enjoyed it so much and thought that would be my entire life, working for the same company.”

When the news broke in July last year she was inundated with offers from advertising agencies and brands but realised she wanted to work within the industry and for the industry, but on her own terms.

“It quickly became obvious that I actually really liked having this ability to roam across the whole span of people and companies,” she says. “It was really driven home to me by their supportive [calls and texts], so pretty quickly I decided I was going to try and find a way to maintain some influence and be as useful and important to as many people as possible.”

At around the same time Sonoo Singh was leaving her role as Associate Editor of rival title The Drum. Together, they plotted their new company – The Creative Salon, a consultancy aimed at the creative industries.

“I reached out to her because I always knew that whatever I did, I didn’t want to do it on my own, because I take a lot of my energy from other people.”

Also on board is Jeremy Lee, who left his role as Campaign’s Contributing Editor last year. Between the three of them they have been writing about advertising and marketing for more than 70 years.

“We are going to focus on celebrating creativity, being vigorous advocates of marketing to drive business growth and to provide a resource to help young people come into the industry,” she says.

“Then there is a private website, which is members-only, which will provide our thought leadership and insider knowledge.”

It will be curated to give “desperately time-poor” members content to inform and inspire because “we think there’s already too much content being created for our industry”. Member companies will also have space on the site to showcase themselves and their work when it launches next month.

She continues: “The salon itself is a more private space. It will have a physicality to it, where we come together in small groups to talk about important, and not so important, things.”

It takes inspiration from the salons that emerged in Paris in the 17th and 18th Centuries and exclusive events aim to both “please and educate”.

There is also a Consiglieres strand where the ‘Salonnieres’ will provide bespoke consigliere services to help grow new business strategies and drive growth. These include personal brand-building for CEOs, CMOs and industry leaders; agency positioning and communications strategy; mentoring; media training; content creation; event conception and hosting; and a writing bureau which crafts everything from awards entries to marketing collateral and article ghost-writing.

“We have this moment in our lives now where we can choose who to work with, we don’t have a boss any more. I feel very strongly that all of us have worked for businesses, to make money out of the people in the industry that we love, but don’t love it back.

“We are all about supporting and championing the best people and the best companies and we have a genuine passion for what they do.

“I think we’re going to fulfil an important role in the industry in terms of being the champion of what the industry does and facilitating or helping the next generation of talent.”

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