Scots creatives’ 10-year journey to overnight success

Left to Right: Ian Greenhill and Jordan Laird (founders, Studio Something)

THEY are the Scots creative studio behind some of the most recognisable creative work in the UK, from the BBC’s FIFA World Cup 2022 title credits to the now ubiquitous ‘The Power Of Okay’ mental health campaign for charity See Me. 

Now the team behind Studio Something are in Germany to shoot a nightly BBC magazine show at Euro 2024 with two of the most recognisable names in UK entertainment – Gordon Smart and Martin Compston. 

It follows the successful launch of a campaign with one of the biggest sports brands in the world – the NBA – aimed at educating the UK public on the sport as the league ramps up its efforts to grow the game on this side of the Atlantic. 

Yet despite the phenomenal success, the studio’s name remains relatively unknown to the wider public, which to this point has been exactly the way Scottish co-founders Ian Greenhill and Jordan Laird have wanted it. 

Now with a team of 20 and working with household brands such as Coca Cola, Ooni, and Tennent’s Lager, as well as producing television including the celebrated Josh Quigley documentary Cycling Saved My Life and films for BBC One’s Football Focus, the Edinburgh headquartered creative studio has come a long way from humble beginnings working out of a Leith tapas bar in 2014. 

With nothing between them but themselves and their ideas, Greenhill and Laird, who met working as young copywriters at an advertising agency, took a huge gamble starting up on their own. 

However, driven by a simple desire to create great ideas that resonate for real audiences – people like them – they embarked on their near 10-year journey to ‘overnight success’. 

“It’s cool to be seen that way,” Greenhill explained. “But as almost anybody who finds themselves in that position would say – there’s a lot more to it than that.”

Studio Something arrived at a time when the growing capabilities of social and digital media were driving a shift towards brands creating their own content. Their unique take on scripting, directing, and production immediately caught the attention of Tennent’s, with a first project to create the high-profile Wellpark animation series in 2015. 

Laird and Greenhill, both from in and around Edinburgh, say tapping into cult followings and fan culture has been central to Studio Something’s success, leading to the firm making a significant impact in sport, and football in particular. 

As well as Football Focus and the BBC World Cup 2022 titles – loved by many and divisive to others – the studio is also working with English Premier League club Brentford FC, as well as being behind the cult Scottish football magazine show A View From The Terrace.

Late Night at The Euros with Smart and Compston, arrives alongside a show for Tennent’s, ‘ Get To Germany’. The five-part series follows a race between Scotland fans in winner-takes-all challenges for money-can’t-buy prizes.

Greenhill said: “We believe brands can be broadcasters by creating entertainment-first content to showcase their brand personality. We wanted to create something with a bit more to it than a traditional ‘ad’ and do something that really showcases the dedication of Scottish fans.” 

Laird and Greenhill’s success in connecting to fan culture previously led the BBC to an invitation to present to the broadcaster’s board on the future of sport and fandom. 

“They didn’t want loads of strategy and plans,” Greenhill continued, “they just wanted creative ideas and that is truly where I think we excel. We like to think that we come up with (and make) ideas our clients couldn’t do themselves. If we don’t, in a few years we will be irrelevant.

Those ideas are at the core of Studio Something. The ‘creatives’, a term the pair embrace where some others in the advertising industry do not, put a large amount of their success down connecting their ideas with audiences brands actually want to reach – an innate ability that stems from their working class roots in central Scotland. 

Greenhill worked a series of tough jobs from pest control to clearing crime scenes, before finding his niche after securing an internship at Leith, which happened to be judged by Laird. 

“I took a job cleaning crime scenes when I was 17 and did that for about four years, Greenhill explained. “Back then, I had no idea creativity was a career. 

“After that, I worked in a shop with a guy called Graeme who told me about an internship with an agency. I was writing a blog at the time, but I had no idea what advertising was. I applied for it and got it. If he hadn’t mentioned that to me, maybe I’d be doing something completely different.  

“You don’t need to be in poverty to have poverty of aspiration. A lot of people tell you a certain career is not for you, but there’s not a lot of people telling you to try. To try, you need that safety net and most people can’t afford the time and space to have a go at a creative career. The creative industry is under threat with limits to the funding, access, and training. How people get ahead is far too often who they know. 

“The US has historically been more of a meritocracy – hopefully with the rise of the creator economy, where anyone with an iPhone can create, the playing field continues to become more even for young people.” 

Laird, who grew up with his mum in Bo’ness on the banks of the Forth estuary – “not exactly a cultural hotspot,” he describes – worked a number of jobs including delivering takeaways, teaching kids how to swim, and selling classified ads in a regional newspaper. It was there where a boss inadvertently advised him to pursue his creativity after catching him skiving. 

“I’d written a story about the video game Championship Manager when I was supposed to be working. Someone accidentally printed it out and my boss found it, and after establishing I was behind it, just said ‘I really don’t think you should be working here,” he explained. 

“We certainly haven’t followed the most conventional route into the industry, but I think that has kept us grounded in what really matters to people,” said Greenhill. 

“We both found our way into advertising because that was the only creative job we could find that paid money. All we’ve really wanted is to make work that people – real people – will actually like, that becomes part of culture, and that we can be proud of.

“When we create work, we try to aim for making things that people like our mums, folk at the football with their pals, or in WhatsApp groups will care about, it’s not about creativity for other people in the industry. 

“When we made the BBC World Cup titles, the Daily Mail hated us, and The Guardian said we were off our head on drugs, but it was seen by millions and most of them loved it. The important thing was that people were talking about it. It’s fine to be divisive if it means you’re relevant. It means you’ve made an impact.” 

Studio Something, which also has a presence in Glasgow and London, has long term plans for international expansion, with hopes to open in the US and mainland Europe. Its success in new areas, and in particular television production, has left the company at what Greenhill describes as something of a crossroads – do they go all in on TV, or continue to work across ‘all things creative’.  

He said: “We can get tied in knots thinking about this stuff when really we’ve always sold the same thing from day one – creative. The creative guys. We are ‘doing’ creative because we’d get sad if we didn’t and we genuinely believe it works. Underpinning everything we do is a very simple dictum: make something people genuinely like.”

Late Night at The Euros with Compston and Smart on the BBC Scotland channel at 10.30pm throughout Euro 2024.

To find out more about Studio Something, visit 

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