News & Blogs

Gumbo Live - Scott & Jit

Lee Ramsay
Lee Ramsay (former) Head of Innovation

Regular readers of our blog will have read about the work we have done in the past with GumboLive, a creative millennial think-tank based in New Orleans that helps to stimulate original thought on client briefs. In January Gumbo played host to Alex Moore and Rhian Withers, two young talents from our London office, who spent a month in New Orleans working to enhance our client briefs from inside the Gumbo HQ. Read about their experience here.

The exchange was hugely successful, with invaluable outcomes for our clients who saw their campaigns transformed by the new way of working. So the natural outcome was to continue this style of immersion with two more willing members of our team.

Step forward Scott Bilbe and Jit Patel.

The Gumbo concept is that inspiration can come from anywhere and anyone and, rather than sitting in our office in Farringdon, it is crucial that we keep our eyes open, expose ourselves to as much innovation, opportunity and inspiration as possible so we can find that original, untapped niche that will work for our client. 

How Gumbo influences our work

We don’t just work on briefs for client campaigns but also compile creative ideas for new business pitches and for prospects, so the brands we get to brainstorm around are many and varied.

Having a dedicated Gumbo team based at Initiative ensures we do not become encumbered with previous client experiences. We are not confined to the boundaries of what we know the client likes – or doesn’t. We can think laterally and creatively, without being hindered by the knowledge that this client prefers, for example, a certain form of media, or has traditionally only used offline as opposed to online. Having fresh eyes and minds on a project is the essence of what Gumbo was set up to offer.

The trigger for a new Gumbo project is when the campaign team comes to us with a brief: these briefs can be just a paragraph or even a single key sentence can often send us down the path of our best ideas as we remain unhindered by detail and specifics.

So far our search for insights has taken us to the Museum of Childhood, where we discovered we are all still just big kids; our search for new environmental technology led us to the Museum of Design; and the Society of Genealogists library helped us to ignite the excitement of looking into the past at our roots and culture.


An Insight is the first thing we turn to. With a limit of 21 words, an Insight will outline a client objective.

The word limit here is crucial. It means the Insights and Ideas are punchy and easily digestible yet informative. In short, they live up to Initiative’s mantra of FBDS: Fast, Brave, Decisive, and Simple. Keeping to the word limit is, we have found, an art form in itself.


Jit and I create an average of 15 Blackjacks which we will then present to the client team – or the pitch team if we are working on new business.

Working on more of a localised scale, rather than being based in New Orleans across the ocean from our clients and colleagues, has helped us to receive more detailed and constructive feedback. Reading through ideas together in the same room as the client means there is nowhere to hide. Feedback that is good, bad or even ugly is all welcomed. We can handle it and if it means we come back with better ideas and insights for a brand then everyone's a winner. Egos are left at the door and the work is all the better for it.


From this we then work up around three or four Blackjacks into Sparks, a one-page document that takes us deeper into the details of the execution and delivery.

 A second round of feedback takes place with the client. Here we flesh out all aspects of the Spark and answer any questions. There is nothing better than seeing your ideas played out across activation and strategic execution!

Yes, some of our ideas are off the mark, but for every idea that goes the distance and becomes a campaign, or helps win us a piece of new business, this innovation new approach lives on.”