The Glasgow-based firm’s chairman Malcolm McPherson said the chief executive role “is a significant element in Big’s plans for continued growth, driving forward a range of additional steps to strengthen our position as a forward-thinking, top-performing creative agency”.
He added that Barr – who succeeds Steve McLaughlin – “has played a central role in the company’s success over the past decade and more and has an in-depth understanding and knowledge of all sides of the business” – citing PR, digital, marketing and creative.
“He is the right person to lead us on the next stage of our evolution to become one of the UK’s leading integrated marketing and communications agencies.”
Barr, the firm’s director of digital, design and marketing, joined as an account director in 2007 after senior comms roles at KPMG and PwC.
He led a number of the agency’s major PR accounts and was appointed a board director in 2010. Barr has spearheaded Big’s diversification into digital, marketing and design, with direct responsibility for some of Big’s key accounts.
Barr said: “I’ve now spent more than half of my career at Big and am hugely excited to take on the role of CEO. Clearly it is a challenging time, but marketing and communications services have never been more important for organisations.
“The current climate means businesses are going to have to work harder than ever to recover from the economic shock suffered as a result of the coronavirus. The encouraging thing from my perspective is that we are already working with our clients to prepare for that recovery.
“At its heart, BIG has always been a creative agency and the talent within the business at the moment is stronger than it has ever been. We made the strategic decision to invest heavily in digital marketing and creative services over a decade ago and during that time BIG has evolved from being a PR-led business into a true full-service agency.
“Over the last few years, we have witnessed an increasing trend of clients looking to take advantage of a one-agency approach. There are huge efficiencies to be gained from a client perspective, and given the current climate, I anticipate that trend will accelerate. Our ability to offer a full suite of marketing, PR and creative services under one roof gives us a real advantage.”
Big has also appointed associate directors Gayle Grant and Euan Blair full board directors and promoted account director Charlene Sweeney to associate director.
Grant is Big’s head of energy, based in the company’s Aberdeen office, and joined the firm in 2010 from a Manchester PR agency. She has helped Big expand its oil, gas and energy client base.
Blair joined in 2015 and now leads the agency’s digital marketing team and creative studio, while Sweeney, who heads some of Big’s most prominent PR clients, is promoted to associate director. She started at the business in 2010 after a career in journalism.
McPherson : “Both Gayle and Euan have made significant contributions to the growth and development of Big and we believe their knowledge and energy as full board members will be major assets for us over the coming years. Charlene Sweeney is also one of Scotland’s leading PR operators and her promotion recognises the central role she plays at Big.”
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