A wander to WONDER
Martin Fullard heads to East London to meet Ben Turner, MD at creative agency WONDER London
I emerged from Old Street station in London hot and thirsty and with a dying need for a quick caffeine fix. As I ambled into Shoreditch, where familiar chains are seemingly unwelcome, I took my business to next best thing: a ‘Veggie Pret’ (me neither). Anything goes in Shoreditch: it’s a haven of expression and a place where the unique comes to life.
A fitting place, then, for a creative events agency.
WONDER London was set up in 2012 by Ben Turner (pictured above), a man whose foray into events began promoting student nights around the UK, right through a couple of seasons in Ibiza and to the Ministry of Sound. At the latter, Turner managed corporate sales before then joining an agency and then setting up WONDER.
Usually when someone starts their own agency in events they must settle for smaller clients, but not Turner.
“I was working as a freelancer, but after a conversation with an old client at Google I was given an opportunity to do some events for them, and WONDER emerged from that,” he says. “In the first year we did 50 events for Google, and now we do some of the biggest work that they do across the EMEA region. We have 35 full time staff, with 70 in total [freelancers and part time staff].”
Google is not a bad client to have on your books, but that’s not the only familiar brand. Turner adds: “We work mainly in the technology and digital media sectors, and, alongside Google, with clients such as Vodafone, Playstation, and the BBC.
“We do all types of events but currently are mostly working on B2B events, with around 60% of our work being conferences; that’s across both the UK and wider EMEA area. We do a lot of European tours and the rest is made up of exhibitions, launches, and networking events.”
Turner attributes these clients’ attraction to WONDER to creative design solutions, the agency’s culture, the physical output of their events, and, crucially, the strong project management and delivery.
Turner says clients want metrics like never before. He says: “In the past, some clients have been focused on brand awareness, but they weren’t able to track ROI. We provide that data.”
So what challenges does Turner foresee over the next two years? He says: “Brexit remains an unknown, and we obviously need to be aware of it. Budgets, too, will likely bring a challenge as people are today expecting more for less. I don’t mean budgets will go down, but rather people want more bang for their buck. And one I think will be more common is bigger agencies [marketing and advertising] buying up small agencies to arm themselves with a better offering which is more event specific.”
I look out of the meeting room window and note the varied ages; the agency floor looks young. “We’ve always been a promoter about getting young people in, we’re a young company ourselves in terms of the management – we’re all under 40,” he says proudly. “We’re still in touch with where we come from, and we’ve had some great success stories with some of our full timers.”
WONDER produced Google Cloud’s largest ever event in EMEA with 12,000 people attending the event at ExCeL in London on 10-11 October.